Pure Gospel Grit

by Mindy Kiker

The Annunciation by Randy Williams
Flickr.com_/photos/realimagin/33945654273_CC BY NC 2.0

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 (AMP)

Who is this young woman who said, “Yes,” to God and served Him with a steadfast heart, even though life took her into unexpected territory? When I ponder the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, I am astounded by the strength of character that she exhibited at such a young age. Think about the confidence she exhibited in her conversation with the angel Gabriel who arrived out of nowhere to tell her that she was going to become pregnant and bear God’s Son. What?

That ranks up there with the most outrageous thing that happened to me today!

When I read the gospel account of Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, I put myself in Mary’s shoes with some difficulty – this is definitely a Cinderella-and-the-glass-slipper moment. As I try to squeeze my bulging foot into the dainty glass slipper, I have to admit that it is not a good fit.

Here’s the honest truth: when a Word of God conflicts directly with my current circumstances, my gut reaction is to disbelieve God. Of course, I have not yet encountered Gabriel — perhaps that makes it easier to believe a Word. However, I suspect that even if I encountered a brilliant angel, I would still doubt.

Besides, Gabriel was not exactly bringing good news. Mary, a betrothed but not-yet-married young lady, had no business being pregnant. When I remember back to my formative years in a good Bible-believing church, getting pregnant before marriage was the kiss of death. Anything but that, I perceived in the youth group teaching, even though no one used those exact words.

Mary received this “good news” with some surprise. The scriptures say that she was troubled, and wondered what mysterious message this angel was delivering.  I am gratified to note that before Mary uttered her famous statement of agreement, she did ask Gabriel to explain how her pregnancy could be possible since she was a virgin.

She listened attentively to his explanation, and then responded, “Yes, let’s do this.” What powerful inner strength gave her an unshakable confidence in her God when He was proposing something so shocking? Surely Mary knew that being in covenant with God was the only way to find safety and security, even if His offer seems outlandish to our human wisdom:

“Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s ‘weakness.'”(I Corinthians 1:25, The Message)

This true servant knew deep in her heart that life is gained by losing it. God has overcome the world (John 16:33), and yet His overcoming power shows up in our lives only to the degree that we are yielded to Him. We have a free will, and God respects our right to choose. He will not overpower us with His invitation to follow Him (Revelation 3:20). He longs for us to lay down our lives willingly, to give up our rights and our plans; however, the choice is ours. Jesus offers tough truth to His disciples, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

This is pure gospel grit, and it comes with a question: What needs to give way in your heart before you willingly lose your life for the sake of Christ? As we ponder such life-altering questions, Mary becomes more startlingly impressive by the minute.

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