“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
It’s that time of year again. Christmas. Advent. I can’t count the number of times I have read this passage (above) in celebration of Christ’s birth. Each time I do, I’m freshly amazed and blessed. Awe-struck that God went to such great and beautiful lengths to rescue mankind, and privileged to personally know the “reason for the season” when so many are drifting through this month on a love-hate relationship with the most commercial and demanding time of year.
Each year, I’m also reminded that the Truth of Christmas—the Truth of Christ is not meant to just supply us with head knowledge, something we just feel good about knowing. Every truth in Scripture is meant to bless us personally as the Spirit breathes on it afresh, changing us from the inside out.
Today, He pointed out something in this section of Scripture I hadn’t ever noticed before.
The angel Gabriel comes to greet Mary with the proclamation that she has found favor with God, and proceeds to tell her that she will bear the Son of God. He goes on to declare many things about who Jesus will be: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But he doesn’t tell her exactly what’s going to happen in between.
If I were presented with such a massive assignment, I would definitely be needing more details.
Is He going to know He’s the Son of God?
When will other people know?
What do I tell everyone?
How do I raise the Son of God?
Mary has just one question here: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
This is where God will have to overshadow her, do the impossible, fill her lack with His Power. This is the key point in every move of God where people recognize it originated with God and therefore requires God’s Power to be accomplished.
God promises to do the impossible, but He doesn’t fill in all the details for Mary. Only that He will provide. He will work His will. She must simply obey. And trust Him.
I think of the things I have said yes to, and how frustrated I have felt when God presents me with a big-picture assignment that sounds amazing, and then hands it to me without filling in details. Questions flood my mind and heart.
Why can’t someone else do this?
When is everything going to fall into place?
How am I going to handle this?
What is this going to cost me?
But Mary’s story reminded me that I’m not the only one.
God’s response to Mary’s questions, the ones she asked and the ones she didn’t, was Himself. His Power. His Love. His Great Story of Redemption that she was a part of.
God isn’t being cruel or unreasonable when He doesn’t provide all the information for an assignment. Maybe all you have initially is the soft whisper of His Holy Spirit encouraging you, prompting you to make a move. But whether you receive a gentle word or an angelic visitation, God is inviting you into His Story—so much bigger than what you can see right now. He’s inviting us to lean into Him for everything we will need and anchor ourselves in the belief that nothing set by God can be impossible.
But it doesn’t stop there. In His Kindness, God points out to Mary that her cousin Elizabeth is already pregnant with the forerunner of the Christ. Mary immediately sets out to see her, and the faith of both women is strengthened. Elizabeth declares: “Blessed is she who believed what the Lord said!”
We will be blessed also, if we hold fast our confidence, firm to the end.
So be encouraged in anything the Lord has asked you to do—the assignment that seems never-ending, the dream that’s on hold, the daily obedience you’re walking out. God is with you in it, to perform His Mighty Work. Trust Him with the unknowns, because you’re a part of something so much bigger. Something the angels will sing about.