By Dale Yocum
This gracious work is a gift of God; yet there are conditions to be met.
Separation from Even the Dearest Friends
It must have been a very testing experience in the life of Mary to agree to the angelic announcement. Immediately, there would be the question of what her fiancé would think of her. We are told that Joseph “was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:19); and doubtless Mary thought of that probability. For her it was a decision as to whether she would put first the favor of Joseph or of God. She made her choice: she would do the will of God if Joseph never understood or accepted her again. Away she went into the hill country to visit her cousin, rejoicing in the Lord, though doubtless suffering in her natural sentiments.
If love is to be supreme in our lives, we must suffer the same severance of every other attachment, which in any way conflicts with the will of God. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children…and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26,33). The words of Jesus are just as compelling for us today as the angelic message was for Mary. We cannot share other love affairs with Christ. We are to yield all our love to Him, so that we love only what He loves—so that He pours His love through us!
Consecration to God
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary, in words of unsurpassed beauty and simplicity. She did not say, “Behold the bride of Joseph,” or “Behold the daughter of David,” or “Behold the mother of the Messiah.” Her separation from the control of Joseph in her life was followed by a positive commitment to God. She would be His handmaid.
That is precisely the wonder of Pentecost. “And your sons and daughters shall prophesy…And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17, 18). Note what God says: Your sons and daughters shall become my servants and handmaidens.
Mary knew in only the slightest way what this should mean for her future. It was enough for her that God willed it. She would be from that day a handmaiden taking orders from a higher Authority. Blessed submission!
None of us can know either, just what life will bring when we surrender every other claim to the Lordship of Christ. But we can trust Him fully, Who now has the responsibility of management.
Thomas Waring was a noted missionary from London to Africa. When he was a youth, there came to his home church an evangelist who said, “I am asking every man who will give his heart to Jesus to kneel here; but I am asking him to give his life as well as his heart.” Waring’s father was a wealthy merchant, but the son made a full commitment that day, nevertheless, and God called him to Africa. When the father heard of it, he was enraged. He would gladly send ten men to Africa instead of his son, he said. But as the youth prayed, God said, “I am not asking for ten others; I am asking for you.” The decision was made. Although he was totally disowned by his father, he went to Africa and stayed for fifty years without furlough. Then, facing death, he asked God to give him six months more. Back in London, he spoke in his old home church and asked for eight men who would say, “Jesus, if you call me, I will go.” He got the eight, took them to Africa, and died within two weeks. As he lay dying he said, “If I had a thousand lives to give, I’d give them all for Africa and for Christ.” Consecration means an absolute and final surrender to God and His will.
It is often at this point of surrender that one most clearly detects the nature of indwelling sin. It is a stubborn principle of resistance, which does not yield to God’s will. We cannot persuade it to be agreeable, to be joyous at the higher, wiser control of God. The only deliverance is to have it destroyed at the cross of Christ!