Open Hands: What Mary Means for Control Freaks Like Me

Her heart stops.  Could this really be happening?  What did God see in her that He would ask such a thing?  What would the villagers think?  What would her fiancé think?  “Lord, help my troubled heart.  May I lay everything at your feet”.  

Every year we hear the story of the first Christmas how a virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit.  There was a census taken over the entire Roman world, so every man had to go to his hometown to register.  Joseph was from Bethlehem, so he took his wife there where she gave birth to Jesus.  

Trusting God doesn’t always make sense

We’ve heard this so many times that often we forget the mystery and wonder of the story.  But there is one question that strikes me every time I hear the Luke 1 and 2 recited.  How did Mary feel as she was asked by God to carry the Savior of the world?  

Before Jesus came to atone for our sins, the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) was set in place to keep Israel set apart and holy.  If any of the laws were defiled, severe punishment was inflicted.  Because God hates sin and no perfect sacrifice had been made at that point, the Law had to be followed with great care.  

“If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones (Deuteronomy 22:23).”

This must have been running through Mary’s mind as the angel appeared to her and told her she was to give birth to a son.  She was a virgin, betrothed to a man named Joseph.  

“‘Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Song of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:31).”

Can you imagine being in Mary’s place?  You are going to give birth to the Son of God. You are pregnant, but you are a virgin.  What will your fiancé think when he sees that you are pregnant?  What will your family say?  They will think you are crazy when you tell them that you are carrying God’s son!  And of course, what will society say?  Adultery is not taken lightly.  You will be stoned!  

Undoubtedly, these are the thoughts that went through Mary’s mind.  Yet what did she say?  In Luke 1:38, Mary responds, “‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”’  Her hands were open to God’s will.  She didn’t argue.  She didn’t doubt God’s sovereignty and power.  She gave up control and laid down her will at the feet of God.  No one would ever look at her the same ever again.  She would be an outcast.  Her submission could bring forth death.

Letting go and letting God take control

How incredible was her response!  I am encouraged and inspired by Mary’s testimony. She let go of control and let God work in her life.  

I’ll admit, control is an area that I struggle in.  I try to manipulate situations to play out the way that I want.  I have a hard time letting other people lead because I want control.  And ultimately, I have a hard time giving things to God.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we have the ability to control things when in the end, God is the one who is sovereign.  

December 18

Mary realized that she had no right to doubt God’s plan.  She knew that He had the power to work in her situation that seemed impossible.  He could have chosen a married woman.  But no, He chose Mary.  Throughout the Bible, we see that God works in situations that seem the most impossible in order to show His power.  

Mary got it.  She understood this truth.  Her response is a beautiful reminder to me.  

“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).”

Mary didn’t complain about her situation.  She praised God!  Instead of grumbling about the hardships she was about to go through, she saw the Lord’s goodness in choosing her to carry Jesus, the Savior of the World.  

Are we willing to let go of our plans?  Are we willing to give to God the control that we may think we have?  Are we will willing to do things that God asks of us, even if the world thinks we’re insane?  Even if the world wants to kill us because of it?  May God work in our hearts so that we can take our hopes, dreams, and fears, and lay them at the feet of Jesus.  Let us relinquish control as we bow before our Savior.


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