Surrendering to God’s Sovereignty
Have you ever struggled with God’s sovereignty? We want to believe we have faith enough to know God’s will is the best plan. But saying we believe in God’s sovereignty and living like we do are vastly different.
I had the opportunity to grow in this area recently. My husband needs eye surgery. After the surgery, he will have to lay on his face for a week and not be able to fly for a month. The problem with his eye was appearing to worsen, and surgery was scheduled for the week before Christmas. When I heard the news, I felt myself sinking into a mirey pit. Not because my husband needed the surgery (we already knew that it was coming), but that it would have to be right before Christmas, canceling our plans to go to Virginia to be with our kids for the holidays.
Trying to be reasonable, I prayed, I asked friends to pray, and I told God just what I thought about this obnoxious surgery ruining MY plans. I let the worry and anxiety of not being able to see my kids steal the joy right out of Advent, the time I should be preparing my heart for celebrating the miraculous birth of our Savior. I woke up on the morning of the pre-op appointment wrestling with God. There was no use hiding my feelings from Him; He knew I wanted to be with my kids and was frustrated that our plans may be canceled. He knew my heart was hurting. After repeating my prayer and realizing I sounded like a broken record or a whiny child, it dawned on me that He really did have my best interest in mind, that He is sovereign, that all this wrestling was just wearing me out. I was able to finally pray, not my will but yours be done.
He wanted me to hand over what I was so tightly clinging to, something I really had no control over anyway. When I surrendered to His sovereignty, the tension and anxiety started to drain away. Faith is the absence of fear. Peace is the absence of panic.
We have many examples, in scripture, of saints asking for their will but surrendering to God’s will instead. Paul asked for the ‘thorn in his flesh’ to be removed. Jonah had to be in the belly of a great fish for three days before deciding to be obedient. Even Jesus asked, “If it be your will, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but yours be done.” One of the most meaningful examples of surrendering to God’s sovereignty is written in Luke, chapter one.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; [e]blessed are you among women!”
29 But [f]when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I [g]do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said,“Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
An angel appeared to Mary and told her that she had been chosen of all the women on earth to bear the Christ child, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. All she would have to do was give up her reputation, become an unwed mother, endure scorn for being an unwed mother. We don’t know how long the conversation really went on. If I was Mary, it would have been a long conversation, because I want to have all my ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions answered. But Mary asked a couple of questions and then replied with one of the most powerful statements recorded in the Bible, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
What if Mary would have said “Heck no, get out of my house Gabriel.”? What if she would have let fear overtake her faith? What if she had wrestled with the angel instead of surrendering to the sovereign will of God? We would still have a Savior. Mary still may have been his earthly mother. But oh, what a blessing she would have missed out on if she would not have opened her heart and said “Let it be to me according to your word.”
About 40 years ago, Mark Lowery wrote a song for a church program that has gained great popularity in the past several years. His normal jovial self considered the question if Mary really knew what she was getting herself into when she agreed to carry the Christ-child. The song, “Mary Did You Know,” asks the wondrous and the devastating. Did Mary know that when she kissed the face of her baby, she was kissing the face of God? Did she know he would die to save all mankind from their sin?
God does not often reveal his future plans for our lives, because it would be too overwhelming and heartbreaking to take in unless He had prepared us for that moment in our lives. Mary, however, did have the benefit of knowing the prophecies in Isaiah about the Messiah.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book,
And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. Isaiah 29:18
I offered my back to those who beat me
and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face
from mockery and spitting. Isaiah 50:6
He is despised and [d]rejected by men,
A Man of [e]sorrows and acquainted with [f]grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our [g]griefs
And carried our [h]sorrows;
Yet we [i]esteemed Him stricken,
[j]Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded[k] for our transgressions,
He was [l]bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes[m] we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord [n]has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from [o]prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
So, chances are, Mary did know. She most likely knew the joy and heartbreak that was prophesied, in Isaiah, of the life… and death of the Messiah. Her precious baby boy was going to change the world. He was going to bring great joy and suffer great pain and anguish. He was going to bear the sins of all mankind. And she still said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
During this season, we try so hard to make things just right. Sometimes, it seems like the harder we work to make the perfect holiday, the more disappointment comes from unmet expectations. We try to buy the right present, prepare the right food, sing the right songs, decorate to our hearts’ content. I love to do all the above, but if I am missing the reason for the celebration, I am missing the greatest blessing of all. He came so that we might have life, life more abundant. His ways are better than my ways and surrendering to His sovereignty is the greatest gift I can give Him for His birthday.
Dear Sovereign Father,
Please help me to keep my eyes fixed on you. Help me to not hold onto my earthly dreams and plans so tightly that I snuff out the blessings your sovereignty, even through pain, will bring. Thank you that 2000 years ago, Mary was joyful in obedience to your will and gave birth to the Christ child who would be our Savior. Thank you for the gift of salvation through your Son, Jesus.
In His Precious Name, Amen.
I pray you all have a blessed Christmas season, remembering why we celebrate the birth Jesus. And by the way, my husband’s surgery was postponed until January. Thanks, in advance, for your prayers.
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One thought on “Did Mary Know?”
Wonderful insights about God’s sovereignty and the tension between knowledge of what’s best and faithfully accepting it in obedience
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