The story is old but ever new by the vibrant colors of it: blood red with courage, true blue with faithfulness, and white hot with passion. It begins in Nazareth where the believers were considered sub-par, a bit too influenced by the many caravans who passed there. Those of Jerusalem’s higher order thought the trampled dung of the streets was only a reflection of the condition of the people’s hearts living there. Nazareth may seem an unlikely place for the story to start. However, those of us who know the end of the story are not surprised. Jesus never was afraid of outcasts or the filthiness of their sins. He seemed to find gold where no one else would ever look. But let’s get back to the beginning of the story.

God trusted His greatest plan to a teenager, placing His seed of hope in the soft folds of her virgin womb—not a super woman but a tender young woman with the fresh dew of dreams moist upon her cheeks. Who would have thought that a young woman promised to marry would lay aside all her personal plans and goals to fulfill God’s plan? This story must amaze those who choose promiscuity, abortion, divorce, and sometimes estrangement for “personal” happiness. The angel’s visit came as a surprise but Mary didn’t hesitate. She didn’t wrestle with the cost; she didn’t fret and fuss with self-pity over her calling; separation from family didn’t hinder her; even the possible distrust of her espoused wasn’t a roadblock in her decision making.

How did she do it? There was no one to ask how to handle the whispering behind her back. There was no one to mentor her on becoming the mother of God. And Joseph! What young husband today would be willing to abstain from the sacred bed for months that he not pollute the plan of God?

That first Christmas was raw with giving rather than getting.

That first Christmas was raw with giving rather than getting. That first Christmas was about commitment. It demands that I ask myself if the colors of my commitment to Christ are also bold and bright. Or have I slipped into the dull shades of half-hearted commitment? Do I begrudgingly sacrifice for Christ secretly wishing for the pleasures of sin for a season? How cheaply would I sell out, if faced with the wrong temptation? Though young, Mary cut her way through the jungle of pitfalls and decisions of a “me-me-me” society. With trepidation I place myself beside her and ask if I would be willing to give up personal goals for God’s calling. Would I leave family behind and travel to a new land, if God should ask it of me? What if Christmas would take me to a stable? Would complaining be my response?

These questions deserve my careful and honest self-evaluation. I hope that Jesus would find in me what He found in Mary—a commitment to Christ that might cost the world but in the end bless me beyond measure and perhaps be a light for those who come after me.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, ESV).


Nancy Arrowood assists her husband, Larry, as pastor of Apostolic Tabernacle in Seymour, Indiana. She has authored a devotional for ladies entitled, Consider the Lilies. This article was reprinted from Reflections magazine.