Mother Mary and the Courage to Accept Your Calling

Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate how well-written biblical fiction can bring the Bible to life for me. Characters’ emotions, struggles, and victories become very real and relatable.

The first such novel I encountered was back in the 70s when I read Two from Galilee: The Story of Mary and Joseph by Marjorie Holmes. The book impacted my ability to see Mary as a human being instead of someone who was so spiritual—so close to God—that accepting her mission was a no-brainer. “God, you want me to be the mother to your Son, the Savior of the world? Sure! No problem!”

It’s sometimes easy to focus on Jesus, his birth, and what that means for us and minimize the role Mary played in his life. Scholars estimate that she was probably between the ages of 13 and 16, but she could have been even younger. Maybe youth carries the advantages of not knowing better, because even at my age with my experiences and maturity, I’d be terrified. Also, as an unwed virgin, she couldn’t try to pass off the baby as being fathered by her husband. Mary had to face Joseph, her intended, with the truth.

What if you were chosen to carry the Christ child? How would your fiancé—family—friends respond? Would they think you were mentally ill, had an affair or a one-night stand, that you’d joined a cult, or that you were punking them for a reality TV show?

Would we be willing to travel the way she did while pregnant? It’s hard enough to waddle around in the comfort of our own homes during the later months. The back hurts, you can’t bend over, and it’s difficult to just get out of a chair. I can’t imagine traveling for many miles—either walking or riding a donkey, bouncing up and down, jostling left and right.

But Mary accepted it all. Despite the difficulties, moments of fear, or wondering if she was really up for the challenge. I can imagine she might have needed to remind herself what the angel Gabriel had told her …

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 26-31, 38 NIV)

What if Mary had refused her calling? What if she’d walked away from her purpose? God knew she would accept, but if she hadn’t, he would have found someone else to take her place.

God may also ask us to do something that feels overwhelming. Fear may hinder or even paralyze us at times. If we choose to walk away from what God’s purpose is for that moment—or for our lives—two things could possibly happen. He might give the job to someone else and not give us another chance. We might also risk losing out on an opportunity to make a huge impact on other people’s lives.

When God leads us to a job that seems impossible … we may want to think about courageous Mary, close our eyes, and listen to our heavenly Father’s reassuring voice reminding us to fear not. Remember, we’re not in it alone. He’s right there with us!

 Have you ever felt God leading you to do something that felt a little scary? How did you handle it? If you’re dealing with that kind of fear now, what can you do to rid yourself of some anxiety?


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