I like to consider myself as being a thoughtful person. I try to listen to both sides of an argument when my children are fighting. (Usually, I end up screaming more than thinking…but I'm working on it!) I honestly try to think of how my husband may be viewing a problem before I approach him with my point of view—which is always right…so why bother. 😉 It is important to be thoughtful.
But how about being thoughtfully obedient? Does this even exist? Some people think that obedience is based on blind faith; but I don't believe that's so. I feel like obedience needs to be thoughtfully executed, so it must be based on “informed faith.” Mary, the mother of Christ, is a perfect example of one who was thoughtfully obedient.
We find a few hints about Mary's personality in Luke 2:19. After hearing what the shepherds had been taught about Christ, many people marveled at their sayings, but “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Again in Luke 2:51, after being told by Christ, her 12 year old son, that He would be about His Father's business, she “kept all these sayings in her heart.”
Mary's a thinker!
I've always loved reading how Mary was thoughtful because, even though I try, I know that I'm not a woman who keeps things in my heart. I tend to blab. I'm Italian. I yell a little bit, then talk loudly, and finish it off with “heated discussion.” Mary, however, is introspective. I'm not suggesting we become silent (although it may help me with my “foot-in-mouth-disease”), but I think we can learn from her example. She took the time to think.
And not only did she think, but she obeyed. This pattern leads me to believe that she was acting on “informed faith” when she chose to be obedient.
In Luke 1 Mary receives the revelation that she will be the mother of the Savior. When Gabriel announces her divine role, she wonders how it is even possible. (There she goes, thinking again…)
We need to recognize that when Mary asked, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” she didn't ask out of doubt or pride. Mary was introspective, and the idea of her having a child while being a virgin simply wasn't computing. It had never, in the history of the world, happened before. She had to think about her choice before committing to anything.
The Lord didn't expect her to obey blindly. After Mary asked for more information, Gabriel explained the way that she would conceive. I can only imagine that this explanation was also a little…hard to follow. Gabriel doesn't leave the discussion at that explanation. He also lets Mary know that Elisabeth is miraculously pregnant, and he reminds Mary that, “with God, nothing shall be impossible.” Mary receives His testimony with faith, and then makes the informed decision to obey by saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Mary, mindful of the responsibility she was about to bear, chose to be the Mother of the Savior.
I'm not expecting to be the mother of the Savior any time soon. But I think that we all can learn from Mary's example. We can choose to be informed, faithful, and obedient. There are times we'll be asked to obey — even when it is difficult, hard to understand, or seemingly impossible. What will your response to such a situation be? What has it been in the past? I hope to become more like Mary, able to respond, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”
Have you ever had an experience where you knew you needed to faithfully obey? Have you ever handed yourself over to the Lord in a way similar to Mary? What do you do to increase your “informed faith” so that you are better able to be thoughtfully obedient?