When I was about 16-years-old, I started asking God why. 
I had grown up in the church; surrounded by and immersed in all things Jesus. I could quote hundreds of scriptures by heart and pretty much tell you where to find all of the others if I didn't have them memorized. I spent more time at church than anywhere else, and I had more "Christian-ese" t-shirts than I would ever like to admit....

If you asked anyone, they would tell you that I was a Christian and that I believed in God. If you asked me, I would have told you the same thing. That was my reputation and to the best of my ability, I carried and upheld it well. But around that age, I started wondering why. I remember asking God on several occasions, "What is the point of all this?"

I was almost certain I believed everything that I made claims to, I just couldn't quite seem to figure out what the purpose was. They weren't the sort of questions that doubted the validity of God or His word or questioned His presence in my life...but still they were crucial questions that needed answering if I was to continue walking with Him. I wanted to see that everything I believed was for a reason outside of myself. I was dying to know for sure that this faith thing was bigger than just me. In so many words, I was asking God to take everything I knew and use it for a greater cause....

I am sure Mary had a background similar to my own. Most likely she had grown up memorizing the Torah and celebrating Jewish traditions. I am sure she was known as a pure, upstanding girl with noble character. I am sure she wondered sometimes what it all meant and if there was some greater purpose for her life. Undoubtedly all of that left her with a great reputation in her community. 

But how she responded in this moment determined if any of that mattered at all.
When Mary chose to act in faith and trust and obedience because she knew who God was and she had been learning Him for years, Mary set a forever example of what God desires for all of us. 

He desires that we would know Him so well and trust His character so whole-heartedly that no risk or reputation or fear or doubt or misunderstanding of His request would hinder us from obedience. He desires that we would live and walk in His plans and purposes. He longs for us to see that He can do the impossible and the unimaginable with a ready and willing heart. 

She didn't question God's abilities or His plans or His wisdom. She didn't weigh the risk against His request nor did she question the point or the purpose. 
She simply said yes. 
I am sure in that moment her mind and her heart were racing. Undoubtedly she was shaking and terrified and filled with questions and concerns desperately trying to make sense of it all. BUT she knew her God. She knew Him so very well. She trusted Him in the very deepest parts of herself. 
This is the moment that counted most and she knew that. She embraced that.

I like to imagine the what ifs...
What if Mary had said no? 
What if she had taken a deep breath, considered the risk and the damage to her reputation, and let fear overtake her? 
What if she had convinced herself that the whole thing was way too crazy to be real...it must have just been a crazy dream and thus decided to ignore it all together? 
What if she had let her lack of understanding and unanswered questions stop her from obeying?

Of course God would have found another way. Of course He would have used another person to fulfill His plans, but how His heart would have ached to see that Mary missed out on being a part of His grand plan in such a big, beautiful way. The truth is, He could do all of it without us, but His greatest desire is that we would be a part of the story He is telling. In order to do that, we have to trust that He is the author and that He sees the bigger picture and that He knows better than us the role that we have been made to play. 

I love that she chose to make that moment count. I love that she ignored all of the doubts and fears  and the loud, "WHY?" pulsing through her veins. I love that she obeyed without understanding and yet without hesitation. 

Might we all be praying for a Mary heart.
I could easily write a book about Mary. Good thing someone else already has! Here are a few quotes from that book that have always stuck with me and that I hope will inspire you as we move forward in this Christmas season....

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