Take a walk with me through some of the towns where the story of Jesus took place. Along the way you will meet people who struggled to understand what God was doing. In each town we will learn something significant about what it means to believe God. I’m sure the individuals had doubts, yet they were certain that God had a plan and would carry out His plan. As we walk through these towns, take notice, you may catch a glimpse of yourself and what God is doing in your life.
The first town we come to in the story of Jesus is referred to as “a town in the hill country of Judea.” (Luke 1:39) This unnamed town is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to confirm her belief in God’s power to do the impossible. The town was most likely Hebron, also known as the city of priests, but the most important thing is not WHERE Mary went but WHY she went.
Mary was seeking the truth. Truth can be unsettling and sometimes hard to believe. Truth by its very nature causes disturbance and raises questions. When the angel came to Mary and told her that she was highly favored and would give birth to Jesus it was a hard-to-believe truth. She had never slept with a man. Frankly, even now, 2000 years later, it’s still unbelievable. But she did believe that God could do the impossible and so do we. I love her response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38). Simple. Direct. Powerful.
We like to talk about Mary’s acceptance of God’s will as though the case were closed at the moment of her belief. Yet, Mary needed confirmation of what she had been told. This is where the story gets interesting. Mary sets off for the hill country, where her cousin, Elizabeth lived. Why did she do that?
Because, she needed proof that nothing is impossible with God. When the angel was talking with Mary he told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was old and barren, was six-months pregnant. “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:36, 37)
Mary needed proof, assurance, verification; call it what you want, but God knew that it would be helpful for Mary to know that He was doing impossible things elsewhere too! Mary didn’t waste a second. She went immediately to see if Elizabeth would confirm the truth that she had been told by the angel. As soon as Mary entered her cousin’s house the indication is that she yelled out a greeting, just like we might do when we arrive after a long trip to visit family. What happened next was magnificent! When Elizabeth heard her cousin’s voice, her baby moved inside her, and she said:
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)
Now let’s rewind the story.
The angel told Mary that she was highly favored by God (Luke 1:28). To be highly favored means “to cause to be the recipient of a benefit, bestow favor on, or bless”. It can also carry the idea of receiving unfair preferential treatment. Sounds like something everyone would desire. Yet, the highly favored becomes the greatly troubled.
While you may find it difficult to believe, you are also highly favored by God. I am not making that up. The only other place in the New Testament where the word meaning “highly favored” is used is to describe Christ followers. (Ephesians 1:6). Just as Mary was highly favored, so also because of Christ we are highly favored or “made acceptable.”
“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
This unknown town represented a place where truth was confirmed. Confirmation to truth sometimes comes in the most unlikely places. It didn’t matter that Elizabeth lived in an obscure place, it mattered that God knew where she lived. When God calls you, it matters not where you live. God will find you and use you from that place. Be obedient to him wherever you are. Be Christ in your family, your work, and your town.
What was confirmed about truth? It was confirmed that God was working out His will in more than one place at a time. God was at work through both Mary and Elizabeth. It was confirmed that God was working through them for the good of mankind. Mary returned home strengthened after her long visit with Elizabeth, able to go back to Nazareth and brave all inevitable suspicion. Here is a big thought: God still works through his people for the good of mankind.
Everyone experiences doubt. Just as Mary needed Elizabeth to confirm what she had been told, we sometimes need others to confirm truth for us. Mary did not seek confirmation because she did not believe God. On the contrary, Mary sought confirmation because she DID believe in God! Sometimes we need confirmation too!
Read this out loud, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” God still does the impossible. Believe it. Believe truth. Believe God.
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“I’ve known Dan for over 30 years and this book is a beautiful watermark of his faith. It is an enlightening read that reminds you that God desperately desires to use you in EVERY chapter of your life. He skillfully communicates that trusting fully in God’s love and promises are the keys to successfully getting through the adventures he calls you to. This book challenges you to walk bravely into the arena of your life and to listen carefully for what God is calling you to do!” Kim Carbia – Career Coach and Author of “Faith And Unemployment”