Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman!  The Lord is with you.”  Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  “Don’t be frightened, Mary’,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to bless you!” (Luke 1:28-30).

Mary was reported to be a young teenager at the time and her reaction was probably similar to how many of us would have reacted—confused, disturbed or frightened. 

We can often make the mistake of elevating those we read about in the Bible into someone who is unbelievable or even fictional.  Not trying to discount who they were or what they accomplished, but I sometimes forget that they were real people, not much different that you or I.  The difference is in the response to what God asks of us. 

Gabriel disclosed to Mary, both she and Elizabeth would become pregnant.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.  May everything you have said come true” (Luke 1:38).

Just as in the case of Joseph, Mary’s response was immediate obedience and acceptance.  Mary’s faith was also undeniable, as noted by Elizabeth.

Elizabeth said, “You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen” (Luke 1:45).

Joseph and Mary lived their lives in faith and obedience.  It was not glamorous or extraordinary, however, what they were able to accomplish within their lifetime was extraordinary because they were willing to accept whatever God asked of them.

We all face challenges this Christmas season.  It may be relationally, financially or physically.  It is how we react to these challenges that determines who we are.  Are we righteous, just and good in how we treat others?  Are we being obedient to the Lord in loving and listening to Him?  Are we fixing our thoughts and our minds on Jesus?

How is God speaking to you this Christmas?  To rejoice in the blessings of the year even though rejoicing is the last thing you want to do?  To reconcile with family members or friends even though you have been estranged for a number of years?  To give of your time or resources even though it seems as if you have none to give?

Whatever God is asking you to do this Christmas pales in comparison to what was asked of a young couple thousands of years ago. 

This Christmas, don’t hope for something magic to happen; put your hope, faith and thoughts upon Jesus.  Joseph and Mary were ordinary people used in extraordinary ways.  We too—even as singles!—can be used in a similar fashion, only if we listen and are obedient to the Lord.

 Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in's Singles Channel.  An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to