Summary: Mary can teach us to trust God with reckless abandon
– adapted from Caught in a higher love by Carolyn Baker
Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals who ever lived, conquered almost the entire known world with his vast army. One night during a campaign, he couldn’t sleep and left his tent to walk around the campgrounds.
As he was walking he came across a soldier asleep on guard duty-a serious offense. The penalty for falling asleep on guard duty was, in some cases, instant death; the commanding officer sometimes poured kerosene on the sleeping soldier and lit it.
The soldier began to wake up as Alexander the Great approached him. Recognizing who was standing in front of him, the young man feared for his life.
"Do you know what the penalty is for falling asleep on guard duty?" Alexander the Great asked the soldier.
"Yes, sir," the soldier responded in a quivering voice.
"Soldier, what’s your name?" demanded Alexander the Great. "Alexander, sir."
Alexander the Great repeated the question: "What is your name?" "My name is Alexander, sir," the soldier repeated.
A third time and more loudly Alexander the Great asked, "What is your name?"
A third time the soldier meekly said, "My name is Alexander, sir."
Alexander the Great then looked the young soldier straight in the eye. "Soldier, either change your name or change your conduct."
Names are important, they hold meaning, and bring back memories both good and bad. In 2004 the most popular names for boys and a girls were; Emma, Madison, Emily, Kaitlyn, and Hailey for girls and Jacob, Aidan, Ethan, Ryan, and Matthew for the boys.
Did you notice that Judas and Jezebel did not make the list? As a matter of fact they did not even crack the top 1000. But do you know the girls name that has been in the top 50 the longest?
Mary. Now why do you suppose that is? I don’t know why someone would name their daughter Mary anymore that someone would know why I would name my sons Trafton and Rylan. But I like the name Mary, it rings of gladness. God chose A young woman named Mary to be the mother of His one and only Son. What an honor! What a blessing! God noticed her, and her reputation lives on today as the epitome of what it means for a mother to trust God. Her name lives on today because of the way she responded in faith to God’s will in her life.
Before God revealed to Mary her unique place in the world, she was on a different track altogether. She was in the middle of building what she believed would be the good life with her fiancé, Joseph. Like the rest of us, she was busy making her own plans. As quite a young woman, Mary was called to give it all before she -really even got started. God called her to let go of her own plans and to enter into his will
Mary’s story opens quietly in Scripture as a Jewish teenager probably 14-16 years old engaged to a carpenter. She was embarking on one of life’s major adventures: her marriage. No doubt she and Joseph, like other young couples, had discussed their wedding plans and dreamed about the rest of their lives together as husband and wife.
Then suddenly, on an ordinary day, God sent an unmistakable message to Mary. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary with startling news. It was a disturbing surprise, to say the least, in the middle of all the plans she was making with Joseph. God spoke directly to her ears and to her heart while she listened intently to every single word.
Let’s read the story together in Luke 1:26-38 and then we will pray.
The angel announces the will of God for Mary’s life. He tells her that she would conceive a son, that his name would be Jesus, and that he would be great. I am sure this was a bit confusing for Mary. She felt confused and afraid as she focused on the very question that any virgin would have asked, "How can I have a baby without a husband? This is a physical impossibility."
And don’t you just love Gabriel’s answer? "This is God’s work in you, Mary. Nothing is impossible with God"
Nothing is impossible. It is not impossible for a virgin to give birth, It is not impossible for a savior to come from the house of David, and it is not impossible for the world to find forgiveness and grace. At least not with God, for this is God’s work.
And to prove the power of God Gabriel let Mary in on a little secret. He told her about another woman in whose life God was working. He told her that her childless cousin Elizabeth, who was too old to have a baby, was already in her sixth month. And suddenly, Mary was jolted out of her own plans, not just for the day, but for the rest of her life. She awakened to the reality that God had something quite different in mind for her and that he could-and would-accomplish his plans through her.