Wednesday, December 21, 2016
When You Wonder What God Wants
Luke 1:28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Mary was a very young woman and was caught off-guard by the visitation of the angel Gabriel. He begins with a verbal greeting that leaves her wondering about his words. The first word, “Greetings” is used here, but also by Jesus when he meets the women after his resurrection. In both cases it signals a call to women to enter into the gospel story in a very profound way. The word “favored” is also used for others such as Noah, Moses and David, all called to participate in reveal the character of God to this world. The phrase, “The Lord is with you,” is also said to Gideon. Therefore, the words were common and yet the meaning was not and it left her perplexed, wondering what it was that God wanted.
We may not have a personal visitation by the angel Gabriel, but God is still in the business of visiting and communicating with his children through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This past week I had the privilege of worshipping with an incredible group of about 500 young people from the continent of Africa. They had gathered for a youth conference just outside the city of Johannesburg. Every morning there was a 6am prayer gathering. As the week went on the group began to dwindle. This was understandable as they were up praising the Lord with concerts until late at night and often only drifted off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. However, the faithful few were still there the last morning, at 6am, ready to learn more about prayer and spend time with the Lord. It was in that space that we were ushered into a time of listening to the voice of God. Instead of a one-sided conversation (such as prayer often can be), we became still and asked God to speak and to lead. The young people were a blessing to me as they actively sought to know the will of God in their lives.
We should be wondering what God wants from us, and we should be desiring his leading. Mary was found by the angel in solitary place where they could have a serious conversation. She was willing to listen and ponder what she had been told.
One of the best things that happened to me last week was a lack of internet. I’d been running at high speed for weeks on end. Suddenly that all came to a screeching halt and I couldn’t even access my e-mail. Instead, I got up at 5:30 in the morning so I could join the group at 6 — and I practiced listening. And yes, in the midst of that I began to wonder what it was that God wanted from me. Could I be quiet enough to hear his still small voice?
God is at work and moving in our world, but we have to be willing to listen and wonder what God wants. Mary walked forward in radical obedience to the will of God. Many of the young people from the African Continent last week heard the call of God in a new and powerful way and responded last week. I believe God may just use them to change the world! When God speaks we must listen, but act with a heart of obedience, even when we are wondering about what he wants.
Lord, please help me to listen and yes, wonder about your leading. But at the same time, walk in obedience. Amen.