Mary was the first disciple. She is also the model of perfect discipleship. I have learned the three essentials of discipleship from her. When the angel Gabriel told Mary of God’s plan for her, she asked, “How can this be since I know no man?” When Gabriel described to her what and how it was God’s plan for her was going to happen, Mary humbly said, “Be it done to me according to your word.” And at the wedding in Cana, Mary instructed the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
A Sense of Awe and Wonder: “How can this be?”
Life is awesome and full of wonders and surprises. One only has to look at nature or the universe to be filled with awe and wonder. So much beauty. So much diversity all around me. And in the scheme of things, I am not needed. The world wouldn’t be any better nor any worse if I had not appeared upon the scene. There is no compelling reason why I should be here. Yet, I am here. “How can this be?”
Life is unmerited, undeserved, unasked for and freely given. And here I am. It is so easy to succumb to the cynical and skeptical view that I do not amount to anything. In the vastness of the universe, I am but a tiny speck of organic matter. Yet something deep inside me keeps telling me that I am no random event. I did not come about by chance. I, in fact, matter. “How can this be?”
Everything is gift. I look back at my life and there are just too many delightful things that have happened and are still happening for me not to realize there is an Unseen Presence who directs and leads me in life. Early in life, I had some ideas on how I would like my life to be. But at every turn, things were not just meant to be as I would have wanted them. There is Someone who is writing out a better life story for me than I can imagine for myself. “How can this be?”
“How can this be?” There is a loving God who cares and looks after me. And He has directly involved Himself in my life.
Sweet Surrender: “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Yesterday, I wrote of the the miracle that has happened in the life of my friend Lambert. From what could have been a tragic story of a lonely and lost widower, God has wrought out an inspiring and touching story. As I was watching the story of Lambert unfolding, I would often catch myself saying, “No, this can’t be happening. It is too perfect to be true. It is not going to happen. It should not happen. It cannot.” And yet, there was God’s handiwork written all over it. He wants only what is good for us. And what is good by God is the best that could possibly happen to me.
In prayer and silence, I have often encountered this Ultimate Reality that is my Source. I have encountered Him in His threefold nature. As Father, He has blessed me with the gift of life and because I am alive, everything is possible. Then, I share in the brokenness that His Son endured for us. But I become a better person as I am renewed and strengthened by the indwelling of His Spirit in me.
Believing that God is directing and leading me in life, I surrender my will to His. And with Mary, I humbly pray, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Self-imposed Submission: “Do whatever he tells you.”
The People of God lived by the law as handed down to Moses. There were the ten commandments. And there was a strong emphasis on justice. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. No more and no less.
When God the Son took on our human form, He taught us the commandment of love. For God and for the neighbor. He did not abolish the law. But He brought it to perfection. The ten commandments were mostly prohibitions: Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not . . . . Jesus instead asked His disciples to get into actions and do acts of love, kindness and compassion.
Jesus did not tell his disciples, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” Or, “You shall not steal.” Instead, He told them “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. With the spirit of simplicity and poverty, one will never want for anything and thus will never covet or steal the possessions of others.
Jesus did not tell his disciples, “You shall not kill.” Instead, He told his followers “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Instead of waging wars or dealing hatred and violence, He wants his disciples to be the children of the God who creates and makes whole again that which is broken. He heals instead of kills.
So as a disciple of Christ, I do as Mary had done before me: I submit myself to God’s will for me. And I am strengthened by the promise of Jesus to His followers:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”