Jennifer Slattery Christian Blog and Commentary

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Quiet, Confident Obedience

(Taken and adapted from Wholly Loved daily devotional, Drawing Near, coming soon in book form and available now on Crosswalk's devotional section.)

Whenever I read the Christmas story, especially Jesus' mother's response upon learning she'd soon concieve, I'm challenged and convicted. I fear, had I been in her place, trying to understand all that lay ahead as a pregnant teenager living in a highly conservative culture, I likely would've argued.

"Are you sure I'm the girl for this? God really should choose someone else to carry His Son."

"Is there any way we can wait--at least until after my fiance' and I are married?"

And the most dominating thought of all, unfortunately, likely would have been, "But what will my friends and neighbors think? What if they don't believe me when I tell them this child came from God? What if they assume, well ... you know ..."

My pride routinely battles against me and my efforts to live for Jesus. I don’t often put myself in a servant’s position. I’m even more diligent to avoid situations that might make me look bad. In Bible study, I’m reluctant to ask a question I think everyone else knows the answer to. I’m tempted to avoid opportunities I feel ill-equipped for, and I certainly don’t want to invite judgment and ridicule from family and friends.

Humans worldwide have a driving desire to “save face.” In fact, in some countries, people are shunned or even killed for harming the family’s honor.

Considering this, I can’t help but wonder about the emotional strain Mary’s condition must’ve cost her family and herself. A young, unwed mother, with child. Living in a small, rural village where everyone likely knew everyone’s business, what kind of whispers and haughty looks did she endure each day?

“She claims the Holy Spirit impregnated her. A likely story!”

“Who’s child do you think she carries?”

“Did you see the way she talked with Bartholomew the other day? You don’t think …”

Mary risked a lot when she said to God’s angel, “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

And notice, she didn’t ask for any guarantees or qualifiers: “I’ll obey, so long as my parents believe me” or “… my friends will stand beside me.” Or, “I’ll carry this child, if only you promise my fiancé won’t come to hate me.”

If you’ve read the story, you know the angel visited Mary’s fiancé also, but this was after the fact. After Mary had told him and he’d determined to end things quietly—when he could’ve publicly shamed her and had her stoned.

But Mary said yes anyway, and in doing so, this quiet teenage girl demonstrated courageous, selfless obedience.

This Christmas, how might God be calling us to do the same?

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