Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
December 24, 2017
God uses ordinary people in unexpected ways
God is known for doing the unexpected. Choosing Mary to be the mother of God is one example. Mary was nobody, poor and young, probably no more than 13 to 15 years old. She lived in a village known only to prophets. Yet God plucked her out of nowhere for a special assignment.
Mary’s pregnancy was odd. An angel announced it to her. Not just any angel. The big one, Gabriel, explains to Mary that the Holy Spirit, not a man, would be responsible for her pregnancy.
Gabriel tells Mary her son will be no ordinary baby. He will be “the holy one,” and called “the Son of God.” Most young girls would have said, “Are you kidding?” But, according to Luke, she made no such reply. But I imagine it was the doubtful look on her face that caused Gabriel to quietly explain that “nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary’s response is remarkable. She says to Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Little wonder that Mary’s humble surrender to God became such a powerful example to believers in every age.
Did her commitment waver? I cannot help but wonder. She remained in poverty. Her status did not change because had been chosen to become the mother of God.
Shunning kings and castles, God arranges for his son to be born in a barn. I cannot help but wonder if Mary said to Joseph, “Is this what it means to be favored by God?” But Luke insists that did not happen. Instead Luke sums up Mary’s attitude in a song, called the Magnificat, with Mary saying, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Herein is Mary’s awesome example.
We are not likely to express our commitment to God with such exalted words as those used by Mary in most translations of the Bible. So I love the way a modern translator like Eugene Peterson in The Message interprets Mary’s song:
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one look at me, and look what happened –
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were
left out in the cold.
How is Mary’s example helpful? It reminds us that God uses ordinary people in unexpected ways. He invites us to serve him in the trenches, in the common affairs of daily life. He seldom calls us to do “great” things but to do simple things with great love – take soup to a sick friend, visit a lonely person in a nursing home, encourage a struggling friend, provide food and clothes for the poor or visit someone behind bars.
God uses our ordinary lives to accomplish his will today – when we are willing to say what Mary said, “Lord, I am your servant.” He may not send Gabriel to talk to you but he will use you as he did Mary – in unexpected ways. + + +