The Shelter of God’s Will

4 12 2014

“There are no teaching jobs available.” That was the conclusion I came to at the end of my senior year of college, after over 10 years of dreaming of being a teacher.  I remember as I walked home from the career center, discouraged and uncertain, that a thought came to me that I could go to seminary.  I loved scripture, and teaching, and yet, in my view of the world, ministry opportunities as vocation were limited to men, unless I wanted to be a pastor’s wife, which I didn’t. But in the midst of an unexpected change to my career plan, a seed was planted, and a new journey began.  It took me through the business world, into the marriage and parenting world, and then into the business side of church, which then led me to seminary.  It was a circuitous route to vocational ministry, but it was a dramatic shift from what I anticipated my life would be like.

We have all most likely had those moments when something happens and we realize that our lives will be different than what we expected.  Sometimes the change is immediate and dramatic; other times it stirs and germinates for years, but we still end up somewhere we didn’t expect.

Imagine the shift in Mary’s life!  A young Jewish girl, following the tradition of her people and, no doubt, the direction of her parents, is engaged to be married to Joseph.  Her path was the traditional path, and there was no reason for her to imagine anything different.  And then, she was visited by an angel of God, sent to bring the message to her that she was favored, and because of that chosen to bear the person of God in human form.  This change to the trajectory of her life was dramatic and immediate, and impacted not only her but those she loved.  Before she was the mother of Joseph’s children, she would be the mother of God Incarnate, and Joseph the step-father.  This was not what she imagined.  This change took courageous faith and obedience.

And she obeyed.  And we read in Matthew that Joseph as well submitted himself to the unique purpose that God had for his wife-to-be, accepting that the work that God wanted to do through her had implications for him as well.  In a highly patriarchal society, it was the willingness of Mary to break with those structures to be obedient, and because of her boldness, a new kingdom was borne through her.

Mary’s sacrificial obedience was not lost on her holy Son.  In Luke 11:27 & 28, we read, “a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’  But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’”  She was blessed, not for the physical characteristics she had to offer the reproductive process, but because she heard the word of God and obeyed.  And that is an example that we can all follow.

What dramatic changes have you seen in the course of your life?  How have those changes impacted others and how did they respond?

Who in your life can you encourage to live into what God has for them, even if it costs you?

What have you heard from God lately, and how well are you obeying?


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