Straight from a Willing Heart
By Lisa Elliott
As Christmas approaches, my heart automatically turns to one of my favourite women in the Bible. That woman is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She and I have connected time and time again as I’ve taken time to process, pray, and “ponder things of God and treasure them in my heart” (Luke 2:19, 51).
Mary and I connect on so many levels:
- Like Mary, both of us had a personal encounter with the Lord as teenage girls.
- We both know what it is to have our souls pierced (Luke 2:35).
- We both know what it is to watch a son suffer and die.
- We both know what it is to turn our mess into a message of hope that will “ripple” and reach generations to come (Luke 1:46-50).
Like in Mary’s life, time and time again, the Lord has shown up in unexpected ways stepping into my ordinary life on an ordinary day and extended extraordinary invitations that have led me to unforeseen circumstances.
The Lord has asked both of us to do the impossible made possible only by Him; the One who works best in impossible situations. It’s been in the context of these impossible situations that Mary has helped me identify and overcome two significant fears that I’m sure we can all relate to!
1. Fear of Inadequacy – “not-enough-ness”
There have been times when I’ve wrestled with my identity in Christ. I’ve been greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting and invitation He’s extending to me. I’ve questioned the Lord’s calling in my life. I have felt like He’s chosen the wrong person.
I’ve used Mary’s words, “But how can this be?” seeing as……” and I go on to explain all the excuses why this can NOT be! Giving Him every reason why I cannot possibly do what He’s asking of me (Luke 1:34). That’s when all my deepest fears and inadequacies come pouring out: the fear of failure, rejection, and “not-enough-ness”.
Through Mary’s example I’ve learned:
- It’s not who I am but Whose am I? – Not simply favored but highly favored, chosen, and called. (Luke 1:28, 30).
- It’s not about what I canNOT do – but what Christ can do in and through me. Nothing is impossible with God! (Luke 1:37).
- It’s not about what lies ahead – but about my humble obedience and simple faith in the fulfillment of His promises (Lk 1:38)…. Which leads me to my second fear:
2. Fear of the Unknown
Fear of the unknown is a very real thing. It is debilitating, paralyzing and stifling. And sadly, if we give into it, we’ll NEVER know the good that can come out of it. We will never know what “could have been” if only we hadn’t given into our fears.
I could never have guessed where the Lord would lead me to fulfill my calling: church conflict, burnout, ministry to pastoral couples dealing with all kinds of challenges, painful ministry transitions, the demands of hurting churches full of hurting people, and perhaps most profound of any of the above; the death of my own 19-year-old son after a year of battling leukemia. Whatever has been involved in my calling I’ve learned the importance of turning my misery into ministry.
- Mary has taught me the importance of simple, willingness to comply with God’s plan—whether I understand it or not. None of us knows what the future holds. But we know Who holds the future.
- Mary has shown me the importance of surrounding myself with those who come alongside, encourage, listen, and speak into my life. Those who “get it” or “get me”. People like Elizabeth was for Mary (Luke 1:36-56).
- Mary’s journey reminds me that the Lord is not only with me, but He’s empowered me with His Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
Perhaps what Mary has taught me most is that being called is really not about me at all. It’s about the glory of God. As I wrap this up, let me just use Mary’s words,
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation (Luke 1:47-50).
Come, magnify the Lord with me.
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org