I have a friend who is a writer and speaker focusing on women's issues. Every year she chooses a word from Scripture that she meditates on throughout the year observing how God brings the particular word to pass in every day life. I thought it was a good idea so I decided to pray about a word for 2017. The word that came to me appeared in a devotional I am reading called "Dwelling Places" (Words to Live In Every Season) by Lucinda Seacrest McDowell. The word I selected is "chosen." The author talks about how Mary was chosen by the Lord to bear the Messiah even though her circumstances made it appear that she was an unlikely candidate. A poor young woman around age 14 that was already betrothed in marriage to Joseph. Yet Mary did not question what qualifications made her a suitable choice rather she humbly offered herself to the Lord's service. Towards the end of the meditation, the author quotes from a novel entitled "Two Steps Forward" in which a spiritual director responds to the woman she is mentoring after the woman tells her director how she feels inadequate because she is not perfect. The director responds, "None of us are. That's what grace is all about. But like Mary, you've been chosen to be the dwelling place of the Most High. By God's grace, God's favor." (italics mine) I was overwhelmed as the words of that spiritual director resonated in my soul. The notion that like Mary, I have been chosen to be a dwelling place for God's Holy Spirit to accomplish His will through me even as He did with Mary. As a child I was not very athletic and I remember the countless number of times I was one of the last to be chosen for a team sport during gym class. However, God does not require any prerequisites to be chosen to serve Him. In fact Jesus makes it clear to His disciples in John 15 that God does the choosing, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit--fruit that will last--and so whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you." (John 15:16) Each of us has been given the free will to make choices both good and bad in our lives. God Himself also makes choices which are always good and among His greatest is the reason we will be celebrating on December 25th. God chose over 2,000 years ago to send His Son into the world to save us and restore the broken relationship between God and humanity. Mary wasn't thinking about gifts or parties when the angel Gabriel came to her. She was focused on a decision to choose to do something that would change the rest of her life. In choosing to accept God's gift to her, all humanity has been blessed. This Christmas season may we take time to refocus our hearts and minds on choosing to receive once again the greatest gift given to humanity, our Lord Jesus Christ. In accepting God's gift to us, we are choosing to be the "dwelling place of the Most High. By God's grace, God's favor." I am chosen, appointed, a fruit bearer. All glory to God!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!