Luke 1:38 – And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (NASB)
I don't even remember her name, but I vividly remember the conversation. She was a middle-aged woman, and I was in my early thirties. She spoke English as a second language. We were acquaintances and had agreed to get a bite together before evening church services. From the little I knew about her, I understood that she was new to faith in Christ and was hungry to know Him.
As we sat across from each other, chit-chatting about nothing in particular, I wondered about her life. Her face was lined, her body wiry and weathered, her posture demure. I'd never seen her with family, never seen her engaged in animated conversation. There was something about her — perhaps her body language — that bespoke a life of heartache or hardship. Maybe she just seemed alone.
Without preamble, she asked me, "Will you mentor me?" Yikes! I was flattered that she would ask me this, and I told her so. I thought about what it would undoubtedly mean. It would mean drawing close in friendship and fellowship. It would mean making time after work. It would mean allowing myself to care. It would mean struggling through language barriers and perceived cultural and communication differences. It would mean getting comfortable with teaching a woman who was older than me. It would mean that I'd better trust the Lord myself.
I'd been widowed not long before, and my heart was in a thousand sharp pieces. Allowing closeness with anyone would mean getting jabbed by those sharp pieces. Plus, while my faith was still real, I was angry with God and feeling guilty for my anger. I felt like a phony. I could go through the motions of a Christian walk, but could I mentor a new believer?
"No, I'm sorry. I can't do that." I tried to explain to her that I didn't feel like I was a good enough Christian to mentor anyone. I needed to get my life together first. While I made my excuses, I assumed I knew that the Lord wouldn't want me to take on such an important role. I never even bothered to ask Him what He wanted.
Many years later, that "No" still rises up to haunt me at times. I've asked for and accepted the Lord's forgiveness. I try not to think too much of the "what ifs": what if I'd said yes — the faith exercises, the bond of Christian love, the healing of past wounds, the deepening of faith that could have occurred.
What would a proper response to the Lord's request have been if I had known that this was something God had wanted me to do?
"Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word" — these are the words that Mary spoke when she learned that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
I'm amazed that Mary, a mere teenager, had the humility to answer as she did. I can't know what went through her mind. Did excuses rise up? Did she imagine herself unmarried and pregnant? Did she wonder if her fiancé would approve? Did she think that she wasn't good enough? I don't know. All I know is that her response indicated a deep respect for the word of the Lord. Essentially, she took her heart and placed it securely, completely, in the hands of the Lord. There's no indication of her boasting about being blessed amongst women or boasting about how unworthy she was (an upside-down pride).
Dear readers, has the Lord asked us to do something that seems too hard, that requires risk, that takes us into the dangerous territories of the heart? We have the free will to say "No", to consider our unworthiness as a way out. Why not instead say, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word"?
Prayer: O Lord, we are sorry! Thank You for second chances. Give us the heart of Mary. May we be bondservants of You, not of the false god: Me. Amen.