“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49).

Lord, in my mind, I’m back in the land; and I’m reminded of Nazareth, of the unexpected and the unexplained. Mary shared her thoughts with the angel when told she would be the mother of God: “How is this to be as I am a virgin?” Besides the fact this young girl had the courage to engage in a one-on-one conversation with a celestial being, to me there is no question as to Mary’s personal concern: “I’m a small-town girl. How am I going to explain my pregnancy to my family and community?”

Your answer to her was to detail only what other plans You had in store—amazing things, including her giving birth to a Messiah for the world. You never addressed her worries. You simply asked for obedience. After all, You are God; You provide all that is necessary to accomplish Your desires. Mary responded in a remarkable way. “I am your handmaiden (your servant) Lord; do with me as You will.”

The unexpected is Your expertise Adonai—as Mary witnessed…as I have witnessed. To the unexpected, we typically respond in very expected ways: How can this be? How can I possibly do what You’re asking me to do? Why are You asking me to do something so difficult, so different, so…unexpected? Now, once again, You are asking me to serve You in an unexpected way, one I would not have predicted. You know how Patti and I hunger to lead a group to Israel. You know our excitement regarding the land and Your people. You have heard our prayers and seen our action. Now You reply:

“I have other plans for you.”

What are You saying? Are we not obedient enough, not prepared enough, not…qualified or good enough? Suddenly I realize I have phrased my response in the negative. Instead of seeking out Your greater purpose, my temptation is to suggest You are telling me no when in fact, You are saying, “There is more to this than You can possibly imagine.”

Mary comprehended this. She understood You are a big God. I read of her understanding; even after being ostracized by her betrothed husband, Joseph, she exclaimed to Elizabeth, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit cries out within me.” In other words, “I’ve found joy in the midst of chaos.”

Mary didn’t ask for the position she received. She received the position You asked her to fulfill. Can I, Lord, look beyond my selfishness to Your purpose? Can I stop trying to justify my desires because I think they are in Your best interest and offer myself isntead for whatever You request? As the angel said to Mary, “All things are possible with God.”

El Shaddai, once I shared with others our realization that our planned trip to Israel would have to be postponed, two fascinating things occurred: First, a number of people exclaimed, “Good, because we’d like to join your journey, but it’s not possible this year—next year looks much better.”

Second, my son called and said he and his fiancé plan to come home from Korea to marry during the time we were to be in Israel.

Were people saying the timing was not good just to make us feel better? Is the timing of my son’s wedding coincidence? I believe not. You’ve known all along what plans You have for us; now that we’ve gotten out of the way, You will show us how great those plans are.

At the time Mary sang her Magnificat, she still was condemned by her culture for her situation, and she had yet to understand or see the full extent of Your intentions. Yet she was overcome with joy. By her example I anticipate great things and now recognize my joy in obedience.

So, we thank You, Messiah. You once again have reveled how vast and yet how personal You are, how all encompassing, yet intimate. The unexpected joy at such a time as this causes our souls to magnify You and our spirits cries out: “I am loved and ready to obey!”

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