That’s Not What I Planned!
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38 (NIV)
Have you ever had a great plan with every intention of accomplishing what you set out to do only for that plan to change within minutes, and hear yourself saying, “This is not what I had planned to do today?” I find few things more frustrating than to discover that my calendar states I’m to do one thing, but my day leads me to something else. It’s one thing to have a change of plans for a single day, but what if your dreams of life as a 20, 30, 40 or 50-year-old haven’t turned out as you had imagined? With each faded dream and dashed hope, it may feel as if you are living your worse nightmare rather than your dream life. You may reflect on your life and discover you are in the very place you once feared, and your shattered dreams may lead you to question God’s goodness. When life doesn’t turn out as we hoped, it’s easy to find ourselves in a panic and full of determination to do whatever it takes to change things. As you seek change, you may never entertain the possibility that some things are out of your control.
The Christmas story reminds me how quickly Mary’s life must have changed. A visit from the angel Gabriel changed the entire course of her life within minutes. It’s easy to skip over this familiar story without focusing on the emotional trauma Mary experienced because of being chosen by God while at the same time being devalued by her culture. Before you dismiss this as just another “Christmas devotion,” put yourself in Mary’s place. The God whom she had faithfully served and worshipped was the one who responsible for her public disgrace. Mary knew she was a virgin but was faced with the reality of being pregnant. Try explaining that to your parents! Not only would her pregnancy change the direction of her life, but it also affected the lives of everyone she loved. Certainly Joseph would believe she had never slept with another man! Within her religious community, her pregnancy would bring stoning and death, not love and acceptance.
Do you wish you could ask Mary if she ever questioned God’s love when she had to slip out of town amidst gossip and disgrace? I wonder if Mary would tell us that God had a plan, and His plan was greater than her plan. Do you think Mary would consider being chosen to marry Joseph was small compared to being chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah? Do you think she regretted trusting God when she heard Jesus teach in the synagogue or received news that He had forgiven an adulterous woman of her sins? I don’t think so! Our God has a plan, and His plan is to give us hope. Our hope is the same hope that was offered to Mary, and His name is Jesus!
There will be times when Jesus will disrupt our plans and offer His plan for our lives. Surrendering to His will may mean giving up a good plan and replacing it with what He knows is best for us. We may have to borrow Mary’s reply to Gabriel and say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said!” If you fear what may happen when you totally surrender your will to God, take a moment to ask yourself what could possibly be greater than what God would give you? Mary gave up the wedding her parents had prepared and became part of God’s plan to be known throughout eternity as the mother of the Messiah. This may seem like a no-brainer since we are able to see the whole story, but remember Mary didn’t know what the outcome of her obedience would bring! And we don’t know what God has in store for us if we will trust Him! God always gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him. We are called to trust and obey; there’s really no other way!
Further ReadingGospel of Luke; Acts 1:14