Mary was an ordinary girl with an extraordinary heart for God. And God took note of this and through her our Savior entered this world. We can learn so many things from Mary’s life, but today I am going to look at the three things that she teaches us about faith and courage.
Have you ever struggled to follow God when He is calling you to something? Maybe it means leaving behind a life of comfort or giving more money than you feel comfortable with. Or maybe it means giving up something in your life or saying goodbye to loved ones. God calls us to many things and we need to be ready to respond.
Keep reading to discover how to respond in faith and courage to God’s call as Mary did.
1. Willing Heart
Mary was a teenage girl pledged to be married. One day she was greeted by an angel and told that she would give birth to the Son of God. Can you imagine yourself in her shoes? Maybe you’re walking home or sleeping one night and suddenly an angel appears and rocks your world.
Mary’s response shows us where her heart was.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1:38
She was willing. She was willing to follow God’s call. We don’t know what would have happened if she responded differently. But we know that because of her willingness, through her life our Savior was born. How many times have we heard the call of God and responded with hesitation? Whether in an audible voice or a prompting of the heart, I know I often fear the outcome of following God into the unknown.
Willingness to follow God’s call requires a deep trust that can only come through intimacy with Him. We cannot leap if we don’t believe that God will be there.
So how do we develop this willingness?
The answer is in spending time with God. Through a growing intimacy with our Lord, we can learn to trust His promises. We must continually spend time with God in order to find the courage to follow Him.
I know when I left my teaching program to write, it was God’s call that was prompting my heart. And it was only when I spent time with Him daily that I was able to discern this guiding. But even still, on days where I do not spend time with Him, reading the bible, praying and listening, I begin to doubt and fear what’s to come. It’s only when I am intimate with God that I can truly trust Him and find the courage to follow Him wherever He leads.
2. Seek Affirmation
After Mary hears the message that she will give birth to the Son of God, she hurries off to see her cousin Elizabeth. This plays an important role in Mary’s journey. She spends three months with Elizabeth.
Just take a moment with me to imagine what she was going through. Pregnancy was beginning to change her body and the reality of her calling was taking place. She was probably questioning what she had heard from the angel and whether or not God really called her to this. And in this time, Elizabeth humbly housed her and encouraged her.
With all that she would face in the years to come, it was crucial for Mary to be encouraged in this time. This affirmation and encouragement would give her strength to fully submit to God’s call and to be obedient to Him.
Sometimes God asks one of His children to walk a very difficult path to bring Him glory. Mary was the ultimate example of this, bringing our Savior into this world. How many around you are asked to walk a difficult path?
When we look at others from an outside perspective we can never know why they are suffering. But God calls us to encourage one another and to bear one another’s burdens (See my post: How to Really Carry Other’s Burdens). Elizabeth did this for Mary.
Sometimes you will be called to be a Mary and to step out in faith and to follow God, but other times, you will be called to be an Elizabeth and to care for and encourage those who are asked to walk a difficult path for God’s glory.
Take a look at those around you and consider what you can do today to encourage someone. Maybe you can send them a note or a text of encouragement or maybe you can offer to help them out in some way.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
3. Humble Praise
The third and one of the most important responses to God’s call is praise. After Elizabeth’s affirmation, Mary sings a song of praise (Luke 1:46-55 ).
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46
Praise sets our hearts on God’s love and provision. Mary was aware of the prophecies of the Messiah and she knew that God was using her to bless generations to come. Her heart was set on things above. And she responded in humility. Mary lowered herself before the Lord and allowed His will to be her priority.
When we come to God in humble praise, our hearts will be opened to His guiding. When God speaks to us, we must bring our hearts to this place of humble praise.
In doing so, we will be the vessels in which God’s glory is shone. We can follow Mary’s example and respond to God’s call with praise by preparing our hearts. When we are intimate with our Savior, we will be ready to receive the call and to step out in faith and courage. And when we do, we can praise God that He is the one who blesses and provides.
Praising God can come in many different forms. The first we think of is often worshiping in a Sunday service. Many of us stand in church on Sundays and sing songs of praise to the Lord. This is a wonderful way to recenter our hearts on Him before the week begins.
But praise does not end there. We must continue to praise God throughout the week. Through prayer, music, and our daily actions we can praise Him every day.
Take time to pray each day, beginning with praising the Lord. Spend time worshiping Him in private. I know I love to put on worship music when I am alone and sit quietly and praise Him. Writing is another way to praise Him. Writing a prayer of thanksgiving or a song of praise.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
Psalm 95:1-3, 6
Following God’s call in faith and courage requires that we have a willing heart, seek encouragement and affirmation and praise God in all things. God’s call isn’t always what we expect and many times it involves walking through suffering. But when we humble ourselves before our Lord we will find the courage and faith we need to follow Him. And He will bless us and through us, His glory will be magnified.