Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. Luke 1:45
Jesus keeps quietly, gently inviting me to follow Him into places I’ve never been. Places with people. Creative environments with artists. Even into unfamiliar business trails. He keeps asking me to say, “Yes.” “Yes,” to His request that I follow Him into a vast unknown kingdom land.
In reflecting on the birth of Jesus, and Mary and Joseph’s part in this great event, I saw the Christmas Yes. I saw it was Mary and Joseph’s response to God that made Christmas come alive for us all.
They were waiting. Looking for the One who had been promised to come. Isaiah prophesied Jesus’ birth 700 years before He was born. Generation after generation had waited. Until all they knew was waiting. Until the day an angel came to Mary.
In that one moment, that one choice, Mary’s life was forever changed. As was ours.
As Mary said, “Yes, be it unto me according to your word,” in that minute she must have known where her yes could lead her. She must have known she could be shamed and rejected by her family and friends. Shunned by her betrothed and the community. Although the prophecies spoke of the virgin birth of the coming Messiah, who would ever believe that it could be her?
In spite of any of her doubts, Mary honored God more than all those others and said, “Yes.” From then on, this seed God planted in her was His work. He formed this child in her womb.
And then I thought about Joseph. About the angel that kept showing up in his dreams and giving him messages from God. I found four records of his encounters with an angel as he slept. In every case, Joseph’s response was the same: he immediately got up and obeyed the directions given. This was Joseph’s yes. Complete, immediate obedience.
The Ungiven Yes
I thought more about my own, “Yes,” to God. When He speaks to me of His plans or purposes for my life, His dream seeds. Is my response, “Yes, be it unto me according to your word?” Or when He speaks quietly, softly nudging me to make more room for Him in my life, is my response to immediately rise and do what He said?
As He comes to me planting promises of who I am in Him. Of where we will go together. And my “yes,” like Mary’s, is an abandonment of trust that opens my life to His work within me. His forming of something within me I do not recognize and cannot see until I say, “yes.” Then, in expectation, I watch Him create this work in me. I wait as He births this promise. This “yes” requires only that I believe in what He has said.
I realized I was fairly good at giving Mary’s “yes”. The one that signifies a level of trust in God. In who He is and in His power to do the work. I say, “yes,” knowing the how and when is up to Him. What I don’t do so well is Joseph’s “yes”. The “yes” that requires obedience. I say my “yes,” expecting God to do the rest. I saw that in Joseph’s “yes”, he understood there was a responsibility to God, to Mary, and to Jesus and he was committed to do whatever God said to steward these lives placed in his hands.
I found Joseph’s immediate, obedient, “yes,” so amazing. I don’t always do that. I tend to ponder and then wonder if I really heard from God. I wait, sometimes thinking perhaps I need confirmation. I may look for a Bible verse. Many times I just forget about the words because I am not sure they are real…
In my author journey, I have not seen that God’s call on my creative life requires a commitment. That there is a responsibility attached to my “yes”. That when I say, “Yes, I trust you,” I am also receiving an assignment to go and do. To follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit and act.
I was so convicted by Joseph’s, “yes.” I had to sit with God and repent for the many, many times I did not acknowledge His word to me. I prayed for empowering grace to trust and obey. Trust like Mary did. Obey like Joseph.
Trust and Obey
There’s a fullness in the lesson of Mary and Joseph’s faith in God. There was an expression of trust and an expression of obedience. Mary surrendered to God’s work within her womb. There was not one thing she could do to form the Messiah child within her body. God planted the seed of this child. She had faith in His word over her life. She had an absolute trust He would fulfill all that He said. Her only part, as far as I can see, was her “yes”. Her willingness to be what God called her “favored one.” Mother of the Messiah. Her response was one of surrender. As God chose her, she chose Him.
One “yes” in our lives is our willingness to be what God calls us, whether it’s artist, author, craftsperson, singer, poet or architect. To trust in the word the Lord has spoken to us about what’s in us. To surrender to His life within us.
Joseph’s instant obedience to the word of the Lord was a different expression of faith in God than Mary’s, but without his immediate action, the mother and child would have been in danger and could have died. It’s obvious that God knew when He chose Joseph, He had found a man whose heart was committed to God.
I am inspired and convicted by Joseph’s “yes” to God. I know I need to listen more clearly to God to understand better what is His work and what is mine. What is He birthing and what am I being asked to steward in obedience?
Another thing that struck me was the context of Mary and Joseph’s faith. After generations of waiting, He was coming. The Messiah. Their trust and obedience opened the way for the birth and protection of the son of God, Son of man, Jesus.
We sit in a similar place today. Waiting. Waiting for the Beloved Savior to return. Foretold so long ago, we have almost despaired, but He’s coming back. All that God said will come to pass. Our “yes” today, our faith and obedience, ushers in His kingdom. Advances His kingdom in us and through us. Our “yes” gives Him permission and room to fulfill His word to have a bride without spot or wrinkle. To form in us and act with us in bringing Jesus to the world in the way that He dreams. Each one of us has a Christmas Yes waiting for our response. A “yes” of trust and a “yes” of obedience.
In the Name of Jesus, I bless you as you trust and obey. May the seed of your “yes” be watered this day with the love that falls from heaven and brings new life to you and all God’s planted within you.