Americans are usually in “accumulate” mode. We buy, receive, and hold on to whatever we can. Giving it up, or letting it go, is hard. Hardest of all, however, is giving up control.
Truth be told, we really aren’t in control of our lives. So many people, things, and events have an impact on us that, in the end, we are more often controlled than in control. And when this fallen world has control, we feel the pain and anguish that comes with it: greed, jealousy, fear, and hate.
But when we put God in control of our lives, and really live that way, we receive blessings beyond our wildest imagination: peace, joy, hope, and strength.
One young woman – actually, just a girl – found that out one day more than two thousand years ago.
Her name was Mary. Mary of Nazareth. Many Bible scholars say she was only about twelve or thirteen years old when she received the surprise of her life:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38, NIV
In this miraculous event, God, through an angel, announced His plan for the salvation of the world. But God never pushes His will on anyone. Despite being all-powerful, God is also all-loving, so He needed Mary’s consent.
And she did.
In words translated differently by the various Bible publishers, Mary gave up control of her life to God. Thy will be done, she said. And you and I have eternal life because of her choice.
Now the choice is ours.
God’s will, or our will?
The words of Mary echo throughout salvation history. The followers of Jesus who chose the Son of God over safety and security said those same words with their lips and with their lives: “Thy will be done, Lord.”
The countless martyrs who have literally given up their lives rather than deny their faith in Jesus Christ did the same: “Thy will be done, Lord.”
Even our Savior, when teaching us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-10) or agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was crucified (Luke 22:42), surrendered to His Father: “Thy will be done.”
Now you and I have that same opportunity – and that same choice.
Our will, or God’s?
Our way, or His?
And our souls, as well as the souls of our loved ones, hang in the balance.
And so it begins.
Christmas, the holy day on which we celebrate the birth of the Son of God, is only a few weeks away. In it, we not only remember that day so long ago, but we also recall the words of Jesus that He is coming back (Mark 14:60-62, Matthew 24:30-31, Luke 21:25-28).
In light of it all, perhaps you are excited. Perhaps you are anxious. Or perhaps you are gripped with fear.
No matter where you are emotionally or spiritually at this moment in time, and no matter what you have done or failed to do in the past, God is reaching out to you today and asking you to let Him have control.
Control of your life.
Control of your future.
Control of your eternal destiny.
As a human, you have every reason to be anxious. What will God do? What will He want? What will that mean for you?
None of us has the answers to those questions, but we do know this: there is no one – no person, power, or force in the cosmos – more powerful or more trustworthy than God.
Yes, we must take a chance. We must take a leap of faith. Just like the disciples – and the apostles – and the martyrs.
Just like Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Today, leave fear behind, and let God transform your life. I promise you that, in the end, you will be victorious, and, along the way, God will give you whatever you need so that you have peace, joy, hope, faith, strength, and courage for a lifetime.
Because surrendering to God is not about giving up or giving in; it is about letting go and letting God.
-- Dr. John Morris