Monday, September 6, 2010

Choose to Be Chosen

From a woman's perspective, I have often thought about what it must have been like for Mary to be singled out by God for the most extraordinary and important job of all time. In return for her acceptance of that job, she was criticized and ostracized by people who knew her. Her life was one of pain and heartbreak, yet she carried out her mission willingly. Was there any blessing in the midst of her sorrow? Of course there was! Reading the song she sings in response to God's request (Luke 1:46-55) reveals her great joy and humility, having been chosen by God for such a high calling. She knew she would be misunderstood, but she was willing to bear that shame for the God she loved and trusted.

God also chooses each of us to carry out His plan to reach all people with His love. He doesn't promise us that, in serving Him, we will receive happiness, health, wealth, or even popularity. In fact, if we look at the lives of people He has called to serve Him over the centuries, we will see that they were most often hated, misunderstood, and even abused -- many were killed. God's own Son lived and died surrounded by controversy and nonacceptance.

Why then, do we expect it to be any different for us? Why should we be surprised when the world rejects us or mistreats us, or says harsh words about us? God did not call us to be loved by the world, but to be obedient to Him. He called us to love those who hate us. He called us to be faithful in the face of adversity.

Does that mean our lives are void of blessing? By no means! On the contrary -- our lives are filled with blessings that only God can give. His wisdom, His peace, His love, His promises -- all this and more are poured out on those who trust in Him and are obedient even unto death. Mary's life was filled with the blessings of God as she cared for His Son, even while a sword was plunged into her heart, knowing that the world had no understanding or acceptance of who He really was. It was her devotion to God; her faithfulness to Him that gave her peace even in the worst of times.

In The Message version of the Bible, Psalm 1 puts a contemporary spin on the issue of God's desire for our faithfulness:
"How well God must like you -- you don't hang out at Sin Saloon; you don't slink along Dead-End Road; you don't go to Smart-Mouth College. Instead you thrill to God's Word, you chew on Scripture day and night."

God chose Mary because she was devoted to Him. Mary accepted because she knew that God was a God of love. She knew that she was blessed among women.   She chose to serve Him with all her heart even when it meant she would be misunderstood and mistreated. I have yet to suffer the kind of heartbreak that Mary suffered. I pray I never will. Yet, if God requires such suffering of me, I know her example will give me strength. I know I will always be loved by God even if the whole world should turn against me. I can be confident of this because He has promised it in His Word and because He has shown it in Mary's life and the lives of so many who have gone before me. Like Mary, I can shout to the world:
 I'm bursting with God-news;
 I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
 God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
 I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!  (Luke 1:46-47, The Message)