I frequently make the observation that a sovereign God, Who personally interacts with humanity and involves Himself in the affairs of His creation, will in no way be hesitant about intruding into your life. If we can for a moment pry ourselves out of a mindset of self-centeredness, God’s freely summoning us from our own agendas to attend to His instead makes complete sense.
Sometimes we have some room to determine whether or not we will accept such interruptions or reject them. Sometimes, however, His interruptions are thrust upon us and we’ve only room to decide if we shall embrace them or resent them, required to walk on difficult paths and suffer troubling circumstances no matter what we might have chosen for ourselves.
Of course the Scriptures are replete with examples of this pattern. Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Job, Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, and dozens of others, all personally experienced an unexpected encounter with the Living God Who didn’t mind crowding out their finite plans and ambitions with His own amazing agenda. It was a good thing that He did, too, for each of them. The things they may have thought that they wanted or might have hoped for were as petty and small in comparison with God’s plans as are driveway gravels to a treasure chest full of baseball sized diamonds.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, for example, found her own life thrown into such upheaval that it would have been very human to despair.
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God…. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:26-35, 37-38 ESV).
If you’ll look carefully, you’ll not see God playing a tape from the Mission Impossible television series, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” in spite of the fact that Mary was being irresistibly pulled into an “impossible mission.” First of all, the Lord was moving in her life in a way that did not require her “help” to be achieved. The Scriptures say that Mary was a virgin, for instance. I believe the Bible. I have met some folks who have trouble believing it but it seems to me that disbelieving this is a sign of jaded cynicism within us, fostered perhaps by a world of disappointments and lies.
But I have to say that the miraculous conception of Jesus is much more in keeping with the entirety of the Bible and in character with God Himself than would be any attempts the world may make in trying to “de-mystify” the Virgin Birth. The gray matter in our heads has been coached and coaxed to always try to deconstruct Biblical reports of God’s supernatural workings in the world. Thus, when reading the Bible about Jesus being conceived without the physical involvement of an earthly father, our “eyes of flesh” begin to read between the lines. We think, “Yeah, right. She got pregnant and was trying to cover her tracks.” This was, sadly, the very idea that was entertained by Mary’s peers and even briefly by her betrothed husband.
Now, to choose to disbelieve in the Virgin Birth just because it seems impossible is a dangerous game. The implication is that you’re not convinced that the “power of the Most High” is real… or worse, that God is detached from His creation and effectually powerless to work in our world or intervene in our lives. And if we were to choose to believe something like that, it would then naturally follow that whole Scripture story is untrue… or that enough of it was untrue so as to make the whole thing unreliable.
But that isn’t why one should believe in the Virgin Birth if he’s not inclined to implicitly trust the Bible anyway. Consider this… Jesus’ coming into the world and His mission had one specific aim… that of laying down His life for ours so that our sin could be forgiven justly. But if Jesus had been born naturally with an earthly father as has been every other living person on planet earth (save Adam), then how could His sacrificial death work for anyone but Himself given that we are all heirs of and participants in a corrupted human nature? Also, if He had had an earthly father, how could He be called the Son of God?
Oddly enough, this is exactly the sort of detail to which God pays attention. For all these very important issues to be resolved, there was only one solution. The Lord would do what seems to human logic to be an impossible feat: He would cause a virgin girl whose heart was tender to His calling conceive a baby in whom the contamination of our sinful selfishness had not entered. Remember that God is not nor has ever been restricted by human logic nor has He ever been worried about conventional wisdom. Simply put, God is jealous of His glory and in working out such a great salvation for humanity, was going to make absolutely sure that these “little things” that you and I in our practicality would never have worried about much. Given then the assumption that God always works to perfectly reveal His glory and also that His limitless power can accomplish anything He chooses, I therefore find it much more reasonable to agree with the Bible’s claim that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived.
Now, back to the original point. How do YOU respond to God’s interruptions in your life? What will you do right now with the knowledge that God desires to work personally in your circumstances? Will you challenge it? Will you turn your eyes away and spurn His invitation to experience His power and grace in your life? Will you choose to trust God with your circumstances and believe that He seeks to use them to draw you closer to Himself? Will you surrender your will, pride, and desires to Him so that He can produce a legacy that will help others also to know Him personally and experience His love at work in their own lives?
May it be so. May you yield your life to Him and trust His goodness. May you come to Him and know from first hand experience the blessings of the Most High. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected]).