The Act of Obedience

She was a teenage girl engaged to be married. She and her fiancé were waiting to consummate the marriage. And then she received a visit from an angel who shared with her that she had been chosen for a very important role in history. She was going to have a baby, the Son of God. And she agreed to do this with just one question. How can this happen since I am a virgin?

Mary believed the words of the angel. She accepted the fact that she had been chosen to carry the Son of God in her womb. She agreed to be his mother. She didn’t argue with the angel. She accepted all the knowns and the unknowns. She had no idea how this baby would upend her life. For the rest of her life. But she laid down her will and plans for a simple life and followed the will of her Heavenly Father.

I wonder. Did Mary, a teenage girl, ever wonder why she was chosen to be the mother of the Son of God? Oh. She may have wondered. The Bible says that she pondered things in her heart. She knew her son was different, but she followed God’s plan.

Mary was a woman after God’s own heart. This was confirmed by her visit to Elizabeth, as she sang allegiance to Him in affirmation of her obedience to this heavenly request.

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Luke 1:46-55

God chose you out of all the people of the earth as his cherished personal treasure. Deuteronomy 14:2


Joseph has his own side of this story. When he learned that Mary was pregnant, he knew he could divorce her. Because having a child outside of marriage could bring ridicule and shame on her for the rest of her life. And she was only a teenager. Did he want to raise another man’s child? Joseph considered divorce, but he was a good man. He was a godly man. And when an angel appeared to him in a dream, Joseph learned that Mary had been faithful to him. This child was God’s. Joseph believed the angel, and he willingly agreed to obey God. He would not divorce Mary. Joseph agreed to marry a woman who was pregnant with someone else’s child. He would not walk away from her.

Joseph later had other dreams where God gave him instructions. Each time, God warned him to leave his location or not to move to a specific place. God was guiding Joseph to protect the life of the child who didn’t carry his DNA. He never once questioned God’s commands. He obeyed without hesitation.

Joseph was a man after God’s own heart. He was the stand in earthly father to the Son of God. Imagine the thoughts he must have had when he laid his head on his pillow at night. What am I doing? Who do I think I am? Trying to be a father to this boy who is God. But he never backed down from the assignment.

I wonder. Did Joseph ever doubt that he had made the wrong decision? Did he wonder if he could do the job that he was tasked with? Did he wonder if he was capable of being father to a boy who was God himself? Oh. He may have. But he didn’t walk away from the call. He didn’t back down from obeying God. He walked into the path God set before him and kept on walking the road of obedience.

Obedience to God’s leading doesn’t mean that trials and troubles won’t come our way. Oh. They will. And they will be many. But the peace and joy of knowing we’re doing as God commanded will sustain us through those trying times.

God is sovereign. He has the power, authority and wisdom to do anything he chooses. He prepared Mary and Joseph to take on the task of parenting this child of heavenly royalty. God knew what he was doing in asking these two unsuspecting ones to birth and raise the holy Son of God. And they trusted him without question.

Oh. God has not asked me to do the hard task of raising his son. He doesn’t need to. He favored Mary and gave her that responsibility. But the role he has for me is still as important. In its own right. Because it’s the simple yet complicated act of obedience that sets us apart as his own. Yes. Obedience is simple yet very complicated. Simple because all we need to do is say yes. Complicated because the path is unknown and perhaps uncertain. But the Way Maker is the one who will provide the certainty and the courage. He’ll make the way when there seems to be no way. Our task is simply to follow.

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.

C.S. Lewis