Thursday, February 3, 2011

A World of Difference

“Mary asked the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?’” (Luke 1:24)

Do you remember Zechariah’s question in response to Gabriel’s announcement that he and Elizabeth would have a son? “How can I KNOW this, for I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years?” Compare that with Mary’s question to Gabriel in response to his announcement that she was going to have a son: “How can this BE, since I have not been intimate with a man?” Some might see their questions as essentially the same, but Gabriel’s respective responses indicate clearly that there was a world of difference. Zechariah was afflicted with a 10-month laryngitis, so to speak; he was rendered unable to speak until John was born. Mary was given an explanation. This indicates that Zechariah was questioning whether having a baby with Elizabeth, given their conditions, was even possible, while Mary was simply asking how this was going to happen in her case. Zechariah’s response was an un-faith response. Mary’s response was a faith response.

Gabriel added a statement at the end of his explanation: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (verse 38) That is a call to faith to us today.

We may at times find ourselves in situations that appear to have no possible positive outcome. It may feel like we’re having to climb Mount Everest barefooted and with no oxygen: the impossibility of the situation looms far larger than the possibility. That can leave us sitting on our haunches and wondering, paralyzed by the impossible. Generally, that is the point when we begin asking God how we can KNOW for certain that He wants us to do this thing (un-faith), or the point when we begin asking God HOW we can do what He is calling us to do (faith). There is a world of difference between these responses. God is hoping we will choose the faith response.

Father, We think of Christmas, and we recognize that it is very much about a faith response. May that be our response. Amen.

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