And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39 (ESV)
When God interrupts my plans, choosing to surrender my will to His is usually not easy. In fact God has never promised us an easy path if we follow Him. Jesus certainly never made it easy for people to truly follow Him while He was here on earth. When He called the disciples to follow Him, he demanded that they immediately give up their way of life, their occupations and even their families at times. He told them that if they wanted to follow Him, they must daily die to self.
But what God does promise is that if we surrender to His will, He will be with us all the way, no matter how difficult things might get. Listen to these promises of God:
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)
For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
Psalm 37:28 (ESV)
Jesus even promised that we would face tribulation in this world if we choose to surrender to His will. But in the end it will all be worth it:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 (ESV)
3. Become what God has called me to be
God called Joseph and Mary to be the earthly parents of His very own Son. Can you imagine what a frightening task that must have been for them? Joseph hadn’t even finished their house. Where would they live? And they weren’t prepared to raise a child yet – alone the Son of God. They had never raised a child before. James Dobson had not yet written his books on child rearing so they couldn’t read those.
So why out of all the people in the history of the world did God choose Joseph and Mary to raise His Son? We certainly don’t all the reasons, but certainly one reason is that God knew they would be willing to become what God had called them to be.
In particular, Mary found favor in God’s eyes not because of who she was, but because of what He was going to do through her. She was no different than any other teenage girl of her day. Like them she was a sinner who would only find salvation from those sins through the son she would bear. The fact that the Messiah would be born to her was fully an act of God’s grace in her life, not anything that she merited or deserved.
But what Mary demonstrates is that God’s grace is operational in the lives of those who respond to Him in faith. Although His grace is available to all, it is only effective in the lives of those who choose to trust in Him.
The same was certainly true for Joseph. Although he was a righteous and compassionate man, he, too, was a sinner who needed the salvation that would be provided by a child born to his wife – one that he did not even father.