Saturday, August 25, 2012

What If...?

Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! 
Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of trying to predict the future?  And if you did try, did you imagine the future as turning out positive or negative?  When you recited the scenario over and over in your mind and how did it turn out?  And how did you feel with your supposed outcome? What emotions were stirred?  Did you have peace or did you have fear?  Did you have confidence or did you doubt?
     The unknown is uncomfortable, isn't it?  So we like to guess at the future.  The problem is, apart from divine revelation, we cannot know the future.  We don't even know what will happen one minute from now. We like to know how things will turn out.  We like to know that our effort, our plans, the events of our lives will turn out well.  And we worry.  We worry about whether our kids will do well.  What if they fail school?  What if they get abducted on the way to school? What if we fail at parenting?  We often develop scenarios in our minds about their future.  How often are those scenarios positive?  How often are the fearful?
       We ask all sorts of "what if" question.   What if someone rejects me or gets mad at me when I try to help them or tell them the truth? What if I lose a friendship because I stand up for God or choose not sin?   What if people do not like me if I speak about my relationship with Christ?  What if they make fun of me?  What if I admit where I am struggling and people only laugh at me or talk about me to everyone else?  What if?   What if we lost our what ifs and begin to live by faith?

      As I was reading about Mary this morning, I saw a woman who had every reason to fear.  She had major "what ifs" she could have asked, didn't she?  What if Joseph, her parents, her entire community rejected her?  What if she was caste out as unfaithful and a fornicator and she was stoned?  What if...?  Instead, we see a woman, faced with a miracle happening to her body, where God Himself would impregnate her virgin body with the Seed of His Spirit and within her womb would develop the Christ, the Son of the living God.  For a young girl, I bet that was a lot to wrap her mind around.  Yet, how did she respond?  "Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word."  Wow!
     How could she respond like that?  Did she not know it was scientifically impossible to get pregnant without having sex with a man?  Did she not realize it was unwise to get pregnant at all as young betrothed Jewish girl?  Yet, she responded in full assurance of faith.  How could she do that at such a young age? And how did God know she was the one He could trust with His only begotten Son?
     Mary knew God.  I think it's as simple as that!  And He knew her.  He saw her life in the quiet of her small town in the privacy of her home. He saw her in her relationship with Joseph and He blessed her.  There were many "what ifs" Mary could have uttered and we would have said she was justified to ask and question and doubt. After all what God was asking would change the course of her life forever.  Yet, she just said yes.  Let it be done as you will.  I trust you God.  I know you love me. I know you are true and right.  I trust you, even though it changes everything.  Even though people could hate me and it's beyond anything my brain can wrap around. Even though it's humanly impossible. Nothing is impossible with you.  Let is be done.

What benefit have you gotten from "what if" thoughts?  Usually, if I allow my thinking to go toward "what ifs" my thoughts do not go to the positive.  I don't know about you, but my thoughts go to the tragedy that might happen, a bad outcome. Usually thoughts like that stir up fear, worry and doubt leading to instability and the feeling of being tossed to and fro by the surf of the sea.
     What if we knew that God was working all things out for the good of those He called according to His purpose?  What if we believed that even events we do not understand and that seem impossible, God will work it out according to the counsel of His will and for our good...every time! ?   What emotions would you feel?  Would peace replace worry?  Would an expectation of God's leadership to work out impossible events?  I think we would experience the joy of walking by faith and growing to trust and love God even more as He proves Himself faithful time and time again.  
     Let it be done to me according to your word. I want to have the faith of Mary.  How 'bout you?  To get this faith, let's press into Jesus, the author and perfecter for our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross for our sake.  Mary suffered as she saw her son die at the hands of evil men. Yet there was joy in the morning when He was alive again and she knew that He was truly the Son of God who came to take away the sin of the world.  I want to know God like that.  

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