Discerning God’s Will
May 18, 2016 Year C
There are three stages in which we all go through when we are trying to discern God’s will. In this exchange between Gabriel and Mary, Mary struggles her current situation. She is a virgin and yet she is pregnant. Why is this happening? What is going on?
God sends an angel to show Mary that she is in the center of God’s will. At the same time, Mary goes through a process of discernment. She goes through three stages:
THREE STAGES OF DISCERNMENT
1. Fear (Luke 1:29)
Mary was extremely scared. She had every right to be. The consequences of being pregnant before she finished her wedding were enormous. Joseph could divorce her. She could be without support in raising her child. She could encounter corporate and community shaming. She was literally scared.
In the first stage of discernment of God’s will, it can feel scary. Yet, God will always guide you. In this case, He sent an angel. The angel’s instruction was insightful. Mary would carry the Son of God (Luke 1:31-33).
As Mary receives this word, her first reaction is to question it. This is the second stage.
2. Confusion (Luke 1:34)
Mary starts by being afraid. Now she is confused. At this stage, she wonders about the physical reality. She is thinking about this with the “natural mind.”
Mary questions the physical reality: How can I be pregnant when I have never been intimate with a man?
It’s a logical question. Yet many times, God works in illogical ways when it comes to His will. Gabriel answers with two examples to show that God’s will can work outside physical reality. First, The Holy Spirit (Who usually inhabits a person for a temporary time) will impregnate her. God Himself will get Mary pregnant (Luke 1:35). Second, Gabriel tells Mary to look around. When we see how God is working in other people’s lives around us, we tend to be more open to see how God can work in our own lives. Mary’s relative Elizabeth – who is much older – is also pregnant (Luke 1:36).
The Gabriel reveals an important truth: Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). This leads Mary to the final stage of discerning God’s will: obedience.
3. Obedience (Luke 1:38)
Mary realizes the enormity of the situation as well as the potential opportunity of the situation. When she overcomes the enormity, and looks to the opportunity, then Mary is ready to obey.
Mary refers to herself as God’s slave – a recognition that she must obey God. Slaves don’t choose to obey, they obey by design. Mary now looks forward to do what God wants. She now knows with clarity what her role is in this situation. She looks forward to the promises that will come for herself and other people by rightly discerning God’s will.
Prayer: As I look into this Scripture, God I am encouraged to see that many people go through these stages. Please help me to be just as obedient as Mary.