Troubled by Grace
Luke 1:26-34 (NIV) 26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
While the grace of God is undeserved and surprising, it can also be unsettling. The grace of God disrupts. It interrupts our routines and plans. For Mary, everything was at stake. The promise itself was humanly speaking, ridiculous. “How can it be?” Mary asked. Virgins can’t conceive! Even if it were possible, her integrity and indeed her life would be greatly affected, if not lost. If she survived death by stoning—a punishment meant for girls who conceived out of wedlock—, her marriage would not survive. The man, who had betrothed her, would most likely give up the idea of marrying her. What was this angel up to?
Grace can be unsettling, especially when we try to understand it from our human frame of reference. How can it be that God can save a sinner like me? How can it be that heaven has interest in someone like me? Not only is God about to surprise you by disappointing you, he is about to give you a new agenda – HIS AGENDA – for your life. He is about to take away your small dreams and give you HIS DREAM. He is about to take away toys and give you the real thing. God’s choice of us is entirely because of his favor. It has nothing to do with how smart we are or our backgrounds or even our spirituality.
We all have feelings of inadequacy when faced with the reality of what God would want us to do. But you are not alone. Think of these Bible giants:
- Moses: Send someone else.
- Jeremiah: I am too young I don’t know how to speak
- Mary: I am a virgin (what you are suggesting is not only too difficult, it is impossible)
If what you think God has called you to do does not overwhelm you, then think twice. It takes God to do what God has called you to do.