Are you willing?”

I felt God ask me this question recently. Over the last few weeks, it’s continued to echo in my heart, and as I’ve reflected on the Christmas story, I’m in awe more than ever of Mary, a woman who was willing.

When the angel Gabriel surprised her with the news that she would become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God, Mary was perplexed. After the angel explained in further detail how this miracle would come to pass, Mary said, “This is amazing! I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me” (Luke 1:38 TPT).

3 Ways Mary Was Willing

In this account, I see three big ways Mary was willing:

Mary was willing to seek God and develop intimacy with Him.

I believe that, even as a child, Mary’s tender heart was turned toward God. I believe she loved God and spent time cultivating her relationship with Him. Though she was initially afraid, I think as she listened to Gabriel, she became aware of God’s Presence—a Presence she had experienced many times before. Her willingness to say yes came from sincere trust in a God with Whom she was intimately familiar.

Mary was willing to believe.

Jesus said, This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29 NLT). God is looking for women who are willing to dream big and believe that everything is possible with Him.

When Gabriel appeared, Mary had questions. “How could this happen, I am still a virgin!” (Luke 1:34), she said. Yet, despite her questions, she didn’t doubt that it was possible. She was willing to believe Gabriel’s message, and she professed her belief by declaring, I will be a mother for the Lord!”

Mary was willing to surrender to and sacrifice for God’s purpose in her life.

As we grow up, most of us develop mental narratives outlining how we expect our lives to unfold: After high school I’ll go to college, then I’ll get married, then I’ll get a job, then I’ll have kids . . . Usually, we aren’t too happy when the narrative gets disrupted.

Mary likely had her own version of this narrative, yet when God made some major alterations to her story, she was willing to adjust. She said, “I accept whatever he has for me.”

She surrendered her small plan in order to be a part of God’s Big Plan, and she was willing to sacrifice to do so. She nearly lost her fiancé, and she probably faced social rejection within her community. When she said yes to God, she knew these were possibilities. Yet she also knew the goodness of God’s purpose was worth the sacrifice.

Choosing To Trust God

Like Mary, I want to be willing to spend time developing intimacy with God.

Like Mary, I want to be willing to do the work of believing, even when what I’m asked to do or believe doesn’t seem to make sense.

And, like Mary, I want to be willing to sacrifice for my God-given purpose and lay aside distractions that would keep me from God’s calling on my life.

So when God asked me, “Are you willing?” my heart leaped with a longing to say, “Yes!”

But right alongside the urge to say yes was the shadow of fear.

Being willing can be scary—it’s saying yes to the unknown. However, it’s also saying yes to something we do know—that God is infinitely good, and His plans are better than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). The truth is, despite the sacrifice and risk, being willing is so fulfilling!

Knowing this, I chose to say yes to God the way I stepped off (I’m not sure I can honestly say jumped!) the high dive at my local swimming pool when I was 12 years old—trembling with trepidation, yet simultaneously confident that the thrill of the leap and likelihood of a safe landing outweighed the risk.

Of course, saying yes isn’t a one-time event. Walking with God is an ongoing journey, and every day He presents new opportunities to participate in His plan. So, casting fear and logic aside, I’m choosing to trust His heart and accept His invitations. Day by day, I’m choosing to say yes, over and over again.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Carina Alanson

Carina Alanson is a former professional counselor turned writer, editor, and coach. She is passionate about helping women live with purpose, grow closer to God, and enjoy everyday life. She lives in the subarctic town of Fairbanks, Alaska, where she enjoys scenic drives with her husband, snowshoeing, and reading by the fire. For more encouragement and other resources for vibrant living visit carinaalanson.com.