From a human perspective, Mary was just a simple peasant girl living a quiet, ordinary life. Yet God chose to bless her in an extraordinary way – picking her out of all women in all of history to raise the world’s Savior.

Mary found favor with God because of her obedient heart. And if your own heart is fully committed to God, you, too, can experience the thrill of God’s blessings. Just as He did with Mary, God wants to use your ordinary life to accomplish extraordinary purposes.

Here’s how Mary’s life can inspire you to live an obedient life that God will use:

* Don’t worry about your background. Be assured that God can use your life to accomplish great things no matter what type of background you have. Know that you don’t have to have a godly heritage like Mary did; God can and use you if you’re prepared to obey Him. Remember that God’s work in your life isn’t limited by your circumstances, but by the decisions you make. Decide to follow Mary’s example of trusting God in all aspects of your life, then expect Him to reveal His plans for you.

* Look for how God will work through your family. Be alert to ways God wants to pour out His love into your life through your family. Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias encouraged Mary as she began her journey as Jesus’ earthly mother. Ask God to help you notice ways your own family members are supporting you, and take time to thank them. Show all members of your family unconditional love, remembering that – like Mary – your love will powerfully influence those closest to you (often in ways you’ll never know). Celebrate joys and grieve disappointments with your family. Try to point each other toward God along the way.

* Look for how God will work through your marriage. Remember that Mary couldn’t fulfill God’s plans without Joseph’s help. Work with your spouse to support and encourage each other as you each seek God’s revelation and follow where He leads. Be willing to adjust your lives so you can fulfill God’s purposes together in unity.

* Trust God’s timing. Realize that, just as God sent His Son to Mary on earth at precisely the right time in history, God will act at exactly the right time in your own life to accomplish His purposes. Remember that God’s activity in your life is never haphazard or accidental; it’s always purposeful and timely. Understand that God will set every detail in place to prepare for His work. Be patient as you wait for God to set His plans in motion. When you do sense God calling you to action, don’t procrastinate. Respond like Mary did when she heard God’s call – right away, with a sense of joy and awe at the privilege of being included in His plans.

* Embrace God’s favor. Recognize that any encounter with God is special and shows His favor toward you. Don’t allow feelings of inadequacy to keep you from embracing the blessings He wants to give you. Just as the angel Gabriel assured Mary that God would be with her, remember that God will be with you, giving you the power to do whatever He asks you to do. Know that if you obey Him with small tasks, He’ll trust you with larger assignments. View every task from God as a valuable opportunity to know Him in a deeper, more meaningful way. Thank God for choosing to use you, and ask Him to forgive you for the times you haven’t responded to His call in the past.

* Get ready for divine encounters. Prepare your heart to hear from to God, just as Mary did. Expect God to reach out to you in ways that are uniquely tailored to you, revealing something about His special plan for your life. Eagerly anticipate encounters with God. Learn to listen for His voice speaking to you through Scripture, circumstances, and in other ways that He might choose. Confess any sin that’s blocking your intimacy with God, and ask God to create a clean heart in you. Spend time regularly in prayer and reading God’s Word.