Nearly nine months ago, I, along with 11 other women committed to journey together to a foreign country for a short-term mission trip. For most of us, this would be our first time in this country, and for me, my second time on an airplane ever, with the first being prior to September 11, 2001. Even so, in the midst of the nervousness and excitement of something that I considered wild and adventurous, we made our deposits and began training. We didn’t know what we were in for, but we had a vision for what our work would look like there, and with every session spent together, we felt more convinced of our direction.
While many of us were assembling our passports and completing the tedious process of applying for visas, we became aware of a missionary couple in our network that was denied entry into the country. This was both shocking and unusual. Soon, we learned that our visas would likely be denied as well. Given this news, the next weeks few were complicated, filled with highs and lows, and lots of anxious waiting. We were sure that this was a test of our faith, and we remained hopeful that God would make a way when they seemed to be no way. Yet, as it stands today, we will not be going.
I found it difficult to sleep during those weeks of waiting, as a number of scenarios flooded my mind. One night, as I was folding laundry at 1:00 a.m., I felt the presence of the Lord. This is what I heard… “You do not have to be somewhere else to be considered obedient in this season.”
God knew that the possibility of the trip being canceled was weighing heavily on my heart and mind. Not because I was eager to do the work that we had been trained for, however. I was wrestling with the thought that maybe I’d lose the chance to be obedient. It sounds silly to me now, but I felt as if I needed to get there to be obedient—to say that I followed Jesus well.
In my own perceptions and reality, there were certain things that needed to be carried out, done and accomplished. I was on a mission—literally. God orchestrated this group of women. He set us apart for this trip. If things were up in the air, then it had to be a mistake…a distraction. Then again, maybe we misunderstood God in the first place. There were so many questions and very few, if any, answers.
You might sense where this is going. When plans take a turn, are delayed, or when they come to a halt, there’s an overwhelming need for an explanation. The short of it is—I don’t know why this happened. What I do know is that obedience is not based on reaching a destination. God simply wants our heart’s yes.
Highlighted countless times in scripture, the favored and beloved Mary says yes to the highest call with stunning grace and humility, despite being confused and disturbed. After all, she was told that she would bear a son and that his name would be Jesus. Because she was a virgin, she couldn’t fathom the thought that she would conceive. Even so, she responded…
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
As the story continues, Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant, and of very old age. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth affirms Mary…
“God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?
You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.” [Luke 1:44, 45 NLT]
Mary faced circumstances that were unprecedented. She believed, and in her yes, she chose to worship, declaring,
“I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. I am not important, but he has shown his care for me, his lowly servant…”[Luke 1:46-48 ERV]
[Luke 1:46-48 ERV]
Perhaps the most stunning detail from Mary’s yes—she delivered the baby that would ultimately deliver her.
Reflect ~ When told that she was a favored woman, blessed because of her belief, Mary turned to worship. Worship was her first response. She acknowledged herself as a lowly servant girl, called by the Mighty One. The One who shows mercy to generation after generation, whose mighty arm has done tremendous things.
He exalts the humble, scatters the proud and haughty. He makes promises to His people and keeps them forever. Our soul’s response should be to praise! Our Spirit should rejoice!
Jesus, we see Mary and how her heart was beautifully aligned with yours…so much so, there was no regard for anything or anyone else. Her yes was followed by an impenetrable trust in you. That is where many of us are today. We’ve given our heart’s yes…but we are sinking in uncertainty, guessing in the peculiarity of events, and scratching our heads in disbelief.
Help us submit fully to you. Have your way.