In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26 – 33)

How did Mary find favor with God? What would a young woman, it is thought barely out of adolescence, do to find favor with the Divine? Of course, part of it was Mary’s personality and temperament. Maybe she kept the Ten Commandments faithfully, and kept the dietary and other laws diligently. Maybe. But I am reminded of what the Lord God said to Samuel when the older sons of Jesse were passed over; that the Lord looks at the heart rather than the outward appearances.

“Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Verse 34)

Mary did not question Gabriel on the coming of “the Son of the Most High” and that he would be given the throne of David. She did not even question why her! I like a woman who knows her own worth! She asked how should could conceive a child since she has not nor has plans to be intimate with a man.

“The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Verses 35 – 37)

Once the hows and wherefores were explained to her, she was agreeable to the plan.

“Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” (Verse 38)

Do you, beloved reader, accept what comes to you in your life? Even now, in the midst of all the problems and situations in the world? I do not mean to list them all; and depending on your location and life philosophy you may not even agree that the happenings of the last half decade or more are problems. That upset and grieve you, do you accept them and determine for yourself that you will trust in the Divine? Think on that question as I move to the next passage.

“Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:10-14)

King Ahaz was up against tough times. The enemy nations surrounding Jerusalem were threatening to attack. And as the saying goes, King Ahaz and all Jerusalem with him were afraid. The Lord God was trying to assuage his fears, but Ahaz said he would not think to ask questions and test the Lord God. And the Lord got peeved with Ahaz and gave him a sign anyway. Was it Mary? I doubt it because the sign was to be fulfilled in the short run and not decades down the way. But interesting that a young woman showed more faith and dared to question how things would work out for herself, when a mighty king when invited would not seek assurances for his nation. Male pride?

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” (Psalm 40:5-10)

Now I ask you, beloved reader, who spoke with more faith in the Lord God? A young woman or a mighty king? I know what my answer would be.

And, beloved reader, do you accept with faith and assurance what happens in your life? Do you seek out the plans of the Divine, and commit yourself to carry out what the Lord God has ordained for you? Questions worthy of answer as we draw close to the end of Lent. And as we continue to live in a world where panic and upset supplants faith and trust.

May you find a calm place in the safe keeping of the Divine. Selah!