Have you ever noticed how courage and humility don’t seem to go together in the same sentence, yet when we look closer, we often find them hand in hand? When I think of courage, I think of big and strong and bold, a warrior. On the other hand, when I think of humility, the first thing that comes to mind is soft spoken, meek, mild, timid, a servant. And yet, how many stories in the Bible feature an unlikely humble character who is called by God to step out in great faith and courage and do something beyond his capability or skillset?
In part 1, we find Mary, an innocent unassuming teenage girl, in fear and trembling as the angel Gabriel appeared before her with the most unbelievable news of any girl’s lifetime … In Luke 1: 28-32 we read, “You are highly favored, Mary. The Lord is with you.” Seeing the look of not only fear on her face, but possible absolute terror as she stood before this majestic angel, Gabriel shows sensitivity and compassion to her, ”Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”
Now here’s where the plot thickens. Upon hearing the most outlandish, earth shattering news, Mary, could have been dumb-founded. But despite the lump in her throat and an extreme case of “cotton-mouth” (come on ladies, go there with me) she seeks out a humble, and genuine question for this majestic being who has called her by name, “How will this be… since I am a virgin?” Good question, Mary. And I love how the patient angel responds to her with kindness and understanding of her apparent confusion. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
And after mentioning her relative Elizabeth who is now with child in her old age, Gabriel’s final words to Mary are, “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Let’s put ourselves in Mary’s sandals…the fear, the trembling, the cotton mouth, the confusion, heart pounding, palms sweating, the news that she will be pregnant outside of wedlock, the possible consequences that may arise out of this earth-shattering development…after all of this, here is her response of a lifetime in acceptance of the calling of a lifetime.
“I am the Lord’s servant”, Mary answered, “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38
Wait just a minute… hold the phone… “I AM THE LORD’S SERVANT?? MAY IT BE TO ME AS YOU HAVE SAID???”
A frightened little teenage girl, an inexplicable encounter that will radically change the course of her life forever, and her response is so humble, so tender, so submissive, so everything I want to be in this life. When God calls you to something beyond your imagination, how do you respond? When He taps your shoulder with His Divine finger, do you turn to Him and listen? Or do you run in the opposite direction?
I admit that I often question His calling. Me, Lord? Really? I don’t think you’re calling the right person. I’m pretty sure you meant for someone else to do this task. I’m not equipped … I’m not skilled in this area … I have no idea how to… and the list of excuses goes on and on and on.
Forgive me Lord. Forgive me when You call and I respond with excuses, or worse yet, I ignore. Forgive me when I do not place my fear in your hands. Forgive me for not trusting You. Give me humility to still my heart and listen for your voice. Give me courage to step out in boldness and great faith. Every day I ask you to give me the humility and courage of Mary.