When my youngest sister was about to give birth she decided she wanted to have the extended family present. I have five sisters and I think at least two of them were there in addition to the midwife, so I was clearly not needed.
So I sat in a comfortable chair and worked on a crossword puzzle and then on an anagram puzzle. I looked at these letters, N A Y G O. As I was working on this, trying to figure out how to order these letters into a word my sister had a contraction and screamed. Just at that moment it came to me – AGONY. I turned to my sister and said, “Thank you,” and went on with my anagrams.
This is a true story but I do have to tell you that the birth of her child was very emotional for me. I had been up all night long with her, timing her contractions. When the baby was born she held her daughter in her arms and it was beautiful. As I drove off to go to work I had a tape of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and played that which seemed to express the emotions I felt.
I was also present when my two daughters were born. It is a strange thing for a father to watch his daughters becoming more and more evidently pregnant. I thought about them as little girls and it was very strange to watch them and know that a new life was developing in their womb. They were in their twenties when they gave birth. How much more strange would it have been if it was in their early teenage years that they were pregnant and giving birth?
I am so used to hearing that Mary was a virgin when the angel appeared to her and informed her she would bear a child that I don’t stop to think about what it must have been like for her. Mary was not a mature young woman when the angel Gabriel visited her. She was not even in her late teens. She was barely a teenager when these events took place. She was probably between 12 and 14 years old, at most she was sixteen years old.
At the time the angel appeared to her, she was betrothed to Joseph. What did this mean? Joseph’s parents had spoken with her parents and made the arrangement that it would be good for their children to marry, although she and Joseph had to agree with the choice.
Betrothal was much more than the modern equivalent of being engaged. It was celebrated in a feast when presents were given to the bride and often to the bride’s parents. This was a formal commitment that was made and lasted one year until the actual marriage took place. After the betrothal ceremony, they were legally married. During the coming year the couple were known as husband and wife but they did not live together. They did not have the right to be united sexually. And to break this betrothal required that the husband give his wife a divorce.
So think of Mary as a young teenage girl. She and her girlfriends would meet and speculate about the available men in the village they could possibly marry. They were young girls with the bodies of young women. When her friends had noticed Joseph looking at Mary as he passed by or when he came into the synagogue, they giggled and talked about what kind of a husband he would be. When Joseph’s parents made a visit to her home, it was probably not much of a surprise.
Did Mary like him? Did she have a crush on him? Did she blush a bit when he looked at her? He was older, a carpenter. He had seen her when she was younger and then as she developed into a young woman he had looked at her with new eyes.
This was all very exciting for Mary. She was poised on the edge of adulthood, on the edge of new experience. When she became betrothed to Joseph, she was now separated from the other girls who giggled about who they might marry. She was now a married woman.
Older women in the village also looked at her with new eyes. She was now included in their conversations, not all conversations, some would have to wait until she consummated her marriage with Joseph, but she was now welcomed into the adult community.
She was betrothed to a young man with a good job who liked her. She had the approval and respect of the community. She had the anticipation of her upcoming marriage. She had many reasons to be happy.
All of this was thrown into jeopardy when she was visited by the angel Gabriel.
Gabriel appeared to her one morning and told her, “Mary, I have good news, bad news and worse news. The good news is that you will bear a son. The bad news is that this will happen before you get married at the end of this year and the worse news is that Joseph, your betrothed, will not be the father of this baby boy.”
This is not an exact translation of the Greek in the text, but it shows the problems with this announcement.
The account in Luke is familiar to us and we love Mary’s response (Luke 1:38)
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
But what went on in Mary’s mind after Gabriel left? Should she tell Joseph about this visitation by Gabriel? What would he think? Would he believe her? Would he think she had lost her mind?
What would happen if she did not tell him? It would be fine for a few months but sooner rather than later it would become obvious she was pregnant. What if she began to be sick in the mornings? Other women watching her would notice and begin to ask questions. Mary could wear loose, flowing clothing but it would be harder and harder to keep it a secret.
She could try to seduce Joseph so he would think it was his child. But would Joseph be seduced? And if he was, how would their future relationship be affected? And was Mary the kind of young girl who could seduce?
What kind of marriage would they have if she did not tell him about this? What if she had imagined all of this and she was not pregnant? What should she do?
The angel Gabriel had told her that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant in her old age. So she went to Joseph and asked him if she could visit her cousin. He agreed and she made the three day trip up to the hill country of Judea.
What was she thinking during those three days? If it was true that she was pregnant, what did it mean that she would bear the son of the Most High? How would she ever convince Joseph that she had not slept with another man? But most of all, was this really true? Was she pregnant?
As she approached the town where Elizabeth and Zechariah lived, people she met asked her where she was going and when she told them they said, “Did you hear that Elizabeth is pregnant? In her old age God has blessed her with a child!” Everyone was talking about Elizabeth and Mary thought about how soon, if she was in fact pregnant, everyone would be talking about her – not about the miracle of her pregnancy but the scandal of her pregnancy.
So this young teenage woman, full of questions, anxious thoughts, and confused wonder came to Elizabeth.
When these cousins met, it was the Holy Spirit who made the introduction and gave Mary the confirmation she needed to hear. (Luke 1:41–45)
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
This introduction was a gift to Mary who heard confirmation from the Holy Spirt through her cousin that what she had experienced was true and Mary responded with her own song of praise. (Luke 1:46-49)
My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
For three months, Mary stayed with Elizabeth. They talked, prayed, and thought about what options Mary had. How was she going to tell Joseph what had happened to her? How could she expect him to believe her? How would he respond? It was a gift for Mary to be able to confide in Elizabeth and to receive her counsel. But time was running out.
A woman begins to show she is pregnant in the middle of her fourth month and as Elizabeth neared the time of her birth, Mary was three months pregnant. Mary could not afford to wait any longer and it was time for her to make the trip home and face Joseph.
On her return trip she had three days to think about what she would say when she returned to Nazareth.
How could she convince Joseph that her unbelievable story was the true story? “Joseph, an angel appeared to me and that is why I am pregnant.” How could she expect that anyone would believe that story?
Elizabeth knew and believed Mary’s story, but that was because the Holy Spirit had made the announcement. It was a spiritual act that enabled Elizabeth to know and believe. Perhaps Mary and Elizabeth prayed that the Holy Spirit would speak to Joseph as he had spoken to Elizabeth. Maybe Mary returned to Nazareth full of faith and convinced that the Holy Spirit would speak to Joseph before she arrived.
Regardless of what Mary was thinking and regardless of how she told him, Joseph reacted negatively.
His betrothed had betrayed him. She talked about an angel visiting her and that is why she was pregnant, but that was just a crazy story. Perhaps she had been attacked and in her mental trauma from the attack she made up the story to explain what had happened.
The bottom line is that she had slept with another man and was pregnant. How this had happened, he had no idea. Was it a stranger who passed through town? Someone she met on her trip? He was confused. He knew Mary and she was not the kind of girl who would have sex with someone else but the reality was she said she was pregnant. She showed him the growing bump in her belly and he knew he could not be the father. However it had happened and whoever the father was, he could no longer be married to this woman. He had to get a divorce.
Joseph must have felt like he had been hit by a truck (or in his day, a fast moving team of oxen). He was hurt and angry – there are a lot of emotions he must have felt. But his maturity and compassionate heart showed in that he did not run out and tell people about what Mary had told him. If he had done this, the town leaders would have waited to see if this accusation was true and when it became clear she was pregnant, she would be condemned as an adulteress and stoned to death – or at least she would become a disgraced outcast, reduced to begging on the streets.
Joseph thought about it and decided he had no other option but to divorce her. But because he was a righteous man, he did not want her to be publically exposed to disgrace and shame so he decided to divorce her quietly.
People would wonder why he had divorced her. She would still have to deal with the pregnancy but he would not be the one to expose her.
So now we come back to Mary. She had an overwhelming experience with the angel Gabriel which turned her world upside down. Joseph had not believed her and she was going to be thrown out on her own. She could not stay in Nazareth. She had to leave. Where could she go?
Could she go back to Elizabeth? Elizabeth and Zechariah believed her and would take her in, but even in their community she would be an unmarried woman with a child. She would be a disgrace even in their community and people might turn against Elizabeth and Zechariah for taking her in. She was in a terrible situation with no apparent solution.
But God had not abandoned her. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: (Matthew 20:20-21)
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph came to Mary the morning after the dream. Mary saw him coming and was nervous about what he would have to say. Was she going to be exposed? Was she going to be thrown out into the streets?
But then he told her an angel had appeared to him in a dream that night and now he understood and believed. Did she cry? Tears of joy? Tears of relief?
She was not alone. She would not be left alone.
Mary and Joseph talked through the options. She was pregnant. In a very bizarre, most unusual circumstance, she was pregnant and how were they going to deal with it?
The first thing they did is decide to ignore the one year waiting period and Joseph took her to his home as his wife.
This set tongues wagging. Why did Joseph all of a sudden take Mary to his home? It must be that they had been having sex and she was pregnant and he was trying to cover it up.
It did not take long and now both Joseph and Mary faced the criticism of the town. They saw her belly and did the math and discovered she had been three months pregnant when Joseph took her to his home. They speculated about what Mary had been doing for the three months she was away. There was a lot of material for the gossips in town to work with.
When Joseph discovered he had to go to Bethlehem for the Roman census, he did not want to leave Mary behind to give birth without him being there to protect her from all the gossip. So he took her with him on a 160 kilometer trip that took them about a week.
They arrived in Bethlehem and as a descendent of David he was given a royal welcome. All he had to do is to tell them, “I am Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph.” and all the way back to “the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David.” Joseph was from the royal line of David and he had relatives in Bethlehem who were children and grandchildren of Heli and Matthat.
I can tell you the name of my father, his father, his father, and his father. And because my great-great grandfather is a historical figure I can go farther back than that. But most of us are limited in how far back we can go in our ancestry. My youngest sister married a man from Somalia and he was able to recite the list of his ancestors for ten to fifteen generations. As a child he learned this genealogy and it was used to place his position in Somalian society.
So Joseph introduced himself and his pregnant wife. One of his relatives welcomed them into their home and because their guest room was already occupied, they stayed with their relatives in the family room. Hospitality in the culture of Palestine had and continues to have a much higher sense of importance than in the Western world. In the honor and shame culture of Palestine at the time of Jesus, to have turned away Joseph and Mary would have been a cause of shame to the entire community of Bethlehem. The culture of hospitality demanded that they make room for Joseph and Mary, which is what they did.
They stayed there for some weeks before the time came for Mary to give birth and when she gave birth, the women of Bethlehem who were experienced with this gathered around her to help her through her first birth.
My guess is that she and Joseph decided not to tell people how she became pregnant. Why stir up that scandal? I wonder if the women helping her give birth noticed that she was still a virgin. I have so many questions.
Mary gave birth to Jesus and as she lay there with him in her arms, she had a lot to think about. As a man, I am not able to enter into that world, but I have noticed the powerful emotions that come with birth. I have known women who worried they were not going to love their baby but then instantly, after the baby was born, they became fierce protectors of their precious child.
We sing the Christmas song, What Child Is This?, and wonder at who Jesus is. Mary and Joseph must have looked and looked at this baby boy, trying to see if there was anything about him that revealed his miraculous conception.
And then the shepherds arrived with further miraculous news. A multitude of angels had appeared to them telling them to come to this home to see their savior.
What did the other people in the room think when they heard this? What questions did they ask? Did Mary and Joseph tell their story then? Or did they still keep it to themselves?
But the miraculous events in the birth of Jesus kept on coming.
As obedient Jews, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple for his dedication. As a indication of their poverty, they came with two pigeons to be sacrificed rather than a ram. And as they walked into the temple there was further evidence that their son was the Son of the Most High and the savior of Israel. Anna and Simeon came up to them in the temple courts and spoke to them. (Luke 2:28–35)
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. What did all this mean? What did Simeon mean when he prophesied that a sword will pierce your own soul too?
We don’t know much about the next number of years. After living as refugees in Egypt for two or three years they returned to Nazareth. Mary and Joseph had other children who were half-brothers and half-sisters to Jesus. The scandal of her pregnancy receded and they slipped into some form of normality.
At the age of twelve Joseph and Mary were reminded that there was something special about Jesus when he stayed behind in Jerusalem talking with the teachers in the temple and he told them: (Luke 2:49)
Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Sometime in the next twenty years, Joseph died and Mary was now a widow.
Her other children married and she had grandchildren, but Jesus was still single. He worked at the family carpentry shop and Mary tried to persuade him to take an interest in the younger women of Nazareth but Jesus was not a normal son.
Then he made his move and set off on three years of ministry. Reports of what he was doing came back to Nazareth. He preached in Nazareth and was rejected. And the gossips revived their stories. They talked again about the scandal surrounding his birth and the family was embarrassed. When the stories became too much for them, they set out to try to bring Jesus back to Nazareth and help him throw off this public ministry.
But Jesus delivered a stinging rebuke that must have hurt Mary’s heart: (Mark 3:32-35)
A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
A couple years after that Mary was standing by the cross, watching her son being crucified.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
The Pieta by Michelangelo that is on the cover of the bulletin, is my favorite sculpture. I saw it first at the New York World’s Fair when I was thirteen years old. There was a moving walkway that moved slowly past the Pieta but it was not slow enough for me. I stepped off the walkway to the side so I could look and look and the guards had to come and tell me to move on because I was standing too long looking at it.
I saw it again the summer of 2006 in Rome where it sits behind bulletproof glass in St. Peters at the Vatican.
Made from one piece of marble, it is stone that breathes. Mary has a youthful face and it is as if she is a teenager hearing the words of Simeon, And a sword will pierce your own soul too. This statue is a picture of the fulfillment of that prophecy. Holding her dead son on her lap, Mary’s heart is broken.
The Bible says Jesus made a resurrection appearance to his brother James. It says nothing about Jesus making a resurrection appearance to Mary.
But I wonder if some things are too personal, even for Jesus, to have recorded in Scripture. I would guess that Jesus also made a resurrection appearance to Mary, the woman who had given birth to him, whose breasts had nursed him. Mary, the mother of Jesus who had watched her son die a painful death, now met him as the King of kings and Lord of lords, as her Lord and Savior.
What an incredible life this woman lived!
How do we make application of her experience to our own lives?
Let me say first that the people God works miracles in are human, just like us. When we read about them in the Bible, it is important that we understand that they are human with the same human frailties we have. Just like us, they worry, are anxious, have fears, have insecurities, are embarrassed for things they say or do. We need to do this with other biblical characters but especially with Mary.
Mary is, after all, the mother of Emmanuel, God in the flesh. So very early on, in the second century, the view of Mary was elevated. Ascetics who viewed sex and marriage as symptoms of original sin elevated Mary to the status of being a perpetual virgin. They said that she remained a virgin for the rest of her life. Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, said that despite the evidence in the four gospels that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters, he accepted the view that Mary remained a virgin. He said that if Jesus is the only begotten son of God, Jesus must also be the only begotten son of Mary. Pope Martin in 649 AD announced that when Mary gave birth she did not experience the pain of childbirth. Jesus miraculously moved from inside Mary’s womb to being held in her arms without all the physical aspects of giving birth.
Mary has been elevated to a spiritual level that denies her humanity and the problem with that is that she becomes distant to us. She becomes less approachable to us.
When we begin to view her as human as we are human, then her story becomes even more incredible, more wonderful. Yes, she is the mother of Emmanuel, God in the flesh, and deserves to be honored, but she was also a young teenage girl to whom Gabriel appeared and who submitted to what Gabriel said would happen.
Seeing the humanity of people in the Bible is important for us and this is true also with Jesus. We believe that Jesus was God in the flesh, but he was also human, and when we see his humanity, we see who he is more clearly. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to see Jesus in his humanity. In Hebrews 4:15 we read,
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are. This is so important for us to remember as we are tempted. Was Jesus ever sexually tempted? If not, then he was not really a man. Because Jesus is God in the flesh, we tend to make him more divine than human. But Jesus was fully human and fully God. That is one of the great mysteries of our faith. We cannot diminish the divinity of Jesus without making him less than he is. We cannot diminish the humanity of Jesus without making him less than he was.
Read in the Bible about Mary and Joseph, read about Jeremiah and Isaiah, Josiah and Hezekiah, Deborah and Gideon, David and Saul, Ruth and Naomi, Paul and Barnabas, Mary and Martha – and be blessed as you realize these could be like people you grew up with, your neighbors, your extended family, people who are flesh and blood like you. They were not extraordinary people. They were ordinary people like us that God used in extraordinary ways.
God reached into the lives of these people just as he has reached into your life. They were not more exceptional than you, they are like you.
A second application is that when God offers you a gift, even if it is unexpected or unwelcome, it is always, always best for you to accept it in submission.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
In 1999 when I was put in contact with Mike Russon at RIC it seemed that I was in contact with someone living on the other side of the world. I had no idea what I was getting into when I arrived in Rabat but I am so glad I submitted to God’s direction for my life.
I’ve talked about this before, but in terms of spiritual gifts, if you close yourself off to any of the gifts God wants to give us, you are shutting off God’s work in your life. If God wants to give you the gift of tongues or prophecy and you reject his offer, in what way is that wise? If these gifts are offered to you by God, they are, whether you know it or not, what you need in your life.
If God wants to give you the gift of evangelism but you are reluctant to receive a gift that will have you talking about your faith to strangers, push away your reluctance and submit.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
One of the Moroccan believers, we will call her Miriam, was praying with her husband when she received a vision that she should visit two women she knew but who did not know she and her husband were Christians. In her vision, she was told she should go to them and tell them she and her husband were Christians and that Jesus loved them.
She asked her husband what she should do and he told her she should obey the call of God. This was not an easy call. What would happen if she told these women she and her husband were Christians? Would they get into trouble with the police or the neighbors?
But she obeyed and went to the first woman. When she told her she and her husband were Christians and that Jesus loved her, the woman began to weep. For a week she had been having visions that Miriam was going to come to her with good news and now she knew what that good news was.
Miriam went to the second woman and delivered her message and the woman responded, “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?” and another new sister entered the kingdom.
When God calls you to go somewhere, go. When God calls you to do something, do it. No matter how inconvenient it is for you; no matter how ill-timed it is; no matter how embarrassing it will be for you; no matter the obstacles, Go! Do what God asks you to do!
God will never offer you a gift or an opportunity that will be harmful for you. It may make you uncomfortable, it may make your life more difficult, but it will be a blessing, not a curse.
Mary did not have an easy life. Her submission came with a price and she suffered for her submission. But in the end, when she met the resurrected Jesus, don’t you think she thought it had all been worth it?
A third lesson is that when God gives us a gift, we need to give it back to him.
Mary was not able to hold on to Jesus. She had to release him to accomplish the purposes for which he was born.
The obvious lesson for parents is that you need to release your child to God. We are not given children so we can control them and shape them into what we want them to be. Some parents try to do that and the result is broken relationships and warped children. We need to view children as buried treasure and we need to discover what this treasure is. We need to find out who our children were created to be, in what way they are gifted, and then encourage them to develop their talents.
This is also true organizationally. In March 2004 when we were granted the association to which RIC belongs, we met to pray. We gave thanks to God for this wonderful gift and then my friend Uchenna prayed, giving the association back to God. This is one of many valuable lessons I learned from Uchenna. We prayed and continue to pray that we will use this gift as God intends rather than use it for our own purposes.
The spiritual gifts God gives us are not meant to provide us with an income or to make us more powerful and influential. They are given to encourage the body of Christ to grow into wholeness. The spiritual gifts God gives us are meant to be used to help us serve the church.
Children, ministries, all the gifts of God are given to us to bless us and God expects us to be good stewards of the gifts he gives. But we cannot be good stewards if we hold on and try to possess the gifts God offers us. We cannot be good stewards of God’s gifts if we try to use them for our own selfish purposes.
A fourth lesson is that God can do far more in our lives than we can imagine.
It seems clear that Mary never fully comprehended what was said to her. She may have “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” but she had very human concerns as Jesus set out to do what he was called by God to do. She was not alone in this. None of the disciples really understood who Jesus was until after his resurrection.
Mary, her sons and daughters, the disciples all thought they knew who Jesus was, but God revealed him to be far more than they could ever have imagined.
And then they set out to do far more than they could ever have imagined themselves.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, became leader of the church in Jerusalem.
The followers of Jesus in the early church feared Paul because he was persecuting them, arresting them, and taking them to prison. He stood as witness when Stephen was stoned to death.
Did the early followers of Jesus pray that Paul’s heart would be turned to Jesus? When that is what happened and Paul came back from Damascus to Jerusalem, the believers did not want to meet with him and Barnabas had to convince them that Paul was truly a brother in Christ. God can do immeasurably more than all we can think or imagine.
Jesus sent out seventy-two of his disciples in teams of two to preach the kingdom of God to the towns of Israel. He gave them power to heal and drive our demons. When they returned they were ecstatic. (Luke 10:17)
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
They were able to do immeasurably more than they thought.
God takes ordinary people and gives them spiritual gifts that allow them to do more than they could think or imagine. He lifts people from a life lost to sin and transforms them into saints. He gives hope to people who thought they were buried so far down they would never see the light of day. He creates beauty from the ashes of shame and defeat.
I want you to know and believe that God wants to bless you with what is best for you. God is at work, giving you good gifts because he loves you and delights in giving you what is best for you. The Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts and when you use these, you will experience the joy of being able to work with Jesus as he builds his kingdom.
Many of you are just beginning your adult life and you have no idea what God will be able to do with you if you give yourself fully to him. I want you to know that there are no limits to what God will be able to do with you if you continue to submit to him, continue to grow in your experience of being loved by him.
A few years ago I received an email from a woman who was in the junior high group (ages 12-14) at Park Street Church when I was in seminary and helping to lead that group. She talked about how influential those years were for her and thanked me. This is amazing because in those years I was embarrassed about speaking in front of people and did not think I had the gifting to be a youth leader or pastor. Just after beginning to date Annie, when I was in seminary, I spoke at an Easter Sunrise Service and stuttered and stammered my way through my little message with a face bright red with embarrassment and was amazed afterwards that Annie still liked me.
God has done immeasurably more with my life than I could ever have thought or imagined.
If you think you don’t have much to offer, than fix your eyes on Jesus who wants to do great things through you. With Jesus you always have hope and a future. There will be difficulties, but Jesus has promised never to leave you or forsake you. Cling to Jesus and he will take you through the difficult times. Use your abilities and resources to build the kingdom of God and you will one day look back in amazement at what God has been able to do in and through you – immeasurably more than you can think or imagine.
I have anxiety about what I will do when I return to the US this coming summer. I am hoping and praying for something meaningful to do with my life. I am praying that I will be able to use what I have learned over the past twenty years in a way that will bless others. I need to hear this message myself, that God is able to do immeasurably more than I can think or imagine.
Life is a glorious adventure and when you move out in obedience to God who loves you, life in all its abundance will be your experience.