In these scriptures the angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her she’ll have a son and who He will be. In the first few verses, if I were Mary, I could reason that this will be a very special person that I am to raise. I’m not sure my mind would go beyond thinking he’d be a “very special person” though. How could I dare think I’d have that privilege? After all, she is engaged to Joseph who has a royal lineage (Matt 1:1-16). Gabriel says he’ll inherit the throne of his father. But in verse 35 Gabriel came right out and told her that her son would be the Son of God and how that would happen. The Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, (1 Nephi 11: 15-20) sheds a little more light on the condescension of God. When Mary realized what Gabriel was telling her she willingly submitted to the will of the Lord, (verse 38) “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
As a tender mercy the Lord gave her someone to talk to who would understand. Gabriel told her about her cousin Elizabeth so she immediately went to visit her for 3 months. We women need to talk and Joseph was having his own challenges with the situation.
I recently had an experience that gives me an inkling of how Mary might have felt initially. I was getting ready to read my scriptures by saying a prayer. I suddenly had a thought pop into my head that was unrelated to anything I was praying about. It was that I would be called to the Branch Relief Society Presidency. I’d heard others say they’d received premonitions like this but I never have. The current presidency had served for just over a year, I thought, and I didn’t know of anyone who was moving. So I thought maybe I needed a couple years to prepare myself. That was on a Thursday and that Sunday the Bishop called me into his office. I held my breath until he told me that I’d be a counselor and not the president! Very few callings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are lifetime callings. They can last from a few months to a few years and we can have several at one time. From a practical sense, it takes a lot of people to run a Branch or a Ward and I figure if we all do our part at the time and where we are called, then no one is over-burdened. We don’t aspire to any position. There is not a progression of callings in a hierarchy if we do well in each one. A man may serve as a Bishop for a few years and then a Sunday School teacher for 15 year-olds. A Relief Society President may be called to the nursery after she is released as president. Each calling I’ve had has given me unique opportunities to learn and grow as I serve. It also puts me in closer contact with people I may not have had the chance to get to know. These relationships, and their effect on me, are lasting even though I might lose touch with some as we move on. One of the things that I love about the callings I’ve had is watching how the Lord works. We do our best to fulfill the duties of the calling and the Lord places people in our path at the exact time they are needed. As long as we are on the right path, the Lord takes care of the details.
Sometimes being “willing” is not easy but I hope I always am because I always benefit the most. Recently I keep thinking of Mark 9:24, “Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief”, substituting “willing” for “believe”: to be “Lord I am willing, help thou mine unwillingness”.