“May it be to me as You have said”
by Rev. MaryAnne Connor
We’ve all heard the phrase that God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In my case, God asked me, an ordinary person, to do something completely out of my comfort zone. Remember the fierce snowstorm back in 2004? God asked me to drive to Whalley, North Surrey’s inner city in the middle of those frigid, whiteout conditions, to help desperate people on the street who had no shelter from the storm. That’s how NightShift Street Ministries was born.
I said ‘yes’ to God even though His assignment came at the most inopportune time of my life. And it turned out to be my toughest job ever! But through my doubting journey, I’ve learned that there is ‘nothing impossible with God.’
You’re likely wondering what does my ‘yes’ have to do with a Christmas message that typically focuses on a shining star, the baby Jesus in a manager, sheep, shepherds and three wise men.
Perhaps there’s been a time in your life that you’ve been asked by God to do something that you haven’t wanted to do. Did you doubt, like me, and argue that you couldn’t do it? If so, you’re in really good company. The Bible has countless examples of ordinary people like you and me who were doubters. Ordinary people like Abraham and Sarah and Moses who started out as ‘doubters’ but through their eventual obedience, were able to accomplish the impossible for God.
What about Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth who doubted when the Angel Gabriel gave them a impossible assignment from God? The impossible happened. Elizabeth, in spite of her barrenness gave birth to John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Gabriel delivered the ultimate God-assignment to an ordinary teenage girl named Mary, who, like every other good Jewish girl, dreamed of becoming the mother of the long-awaited Messiah – after marriage. Mary’s parents had chosen Joseph for her husband, a hard working carpenter and a godly man. Custom decreed that the couple would live apart for 12 months and remain pure during their betrothal period. Mary dedicated her time learning how to be a good Jewish wife and mother while Joseph focused on building their home.
Imagine Mary carrying out her chores one day – maybe quietly humming to herself while doing laundry – when she is surprised by a visit from a complete stranger, an angel sent by God delivering bewildering news!
Let’s try to imagine what it would be like to walk in Mary’s shoes as we read the following passage in Luke 1.
“The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and 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. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (And her reply)“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said”. Then the angel left her.”
Can’t you just image the thoughts racing through Mary’s mind? “How could I be pregnant? I’ve been with no man! This is impossible!” But Mary didn’t back down in spite of her doubt. She was obedient and in her quiet Mary way responded, “How will this be since I’m a virgin?” She didn’t put her marriage plans first, she simply answered in total submission “I am the Lord’s servant”. And then she spoke the nine world-changing words that altered the course of history, “May it be to me as you have said.”
Mary said yes and risked everything. She knew the devastating consequences – the shame, the loss of her reputation, the condemnation from her family, friends and entire community, her future life with Joseph.
What about you? Are you faced with making a choice today for God? Or question His plans and purposes for your life? How great does ‘doubt ‘ play in your willingness to obey and trust Him? Perhaps like Mary, you feel that you are nothing special and couldn’t possibly be used by God.
God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus – not because she was perfect and deserved it but because she was upright. And like Mary, He showers His favour on us when we step into obedience and say “yes”. Our yesses don’t have to be to huge God-assignments like Mary’s. It could be as simple as loving our neighbour when we don’t feel like reaching out to another rather than ignoring the need.
My yes changed my world. What about yours?
“May it be to me as you have said.” Merry Christmas everyone.
Best-selling author MaryAnne Connor is the founder and president of NightShift Street Ministries, a multi-denominational non-profit providing outreach services 365 nights per year helping those seeking escape from the streets into renewed and purposeful lives. Her transformative memoir, The Shift, can be found on numerous Amazon Top 100 Bestseller lists such as Christian Leadership and Christian Stewardship.