When I knew that God was calling me to serve in pastoral ministry for the rest of my life, I wrote a note in the margin of my Bible, “Called to Preach, March 1, 1995.” Seven months later, on October 1, I finally surrendered and said “yes” to His call. I had all kinds of reasons why God couldn’t possibly use a shy kid like me in a preaching role, but my excuses said more about my lack of faith in God’s ability than about my own lack of ability. But God was patient, as He always is, and decided to use me in spite of my reluctance.

When I read the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, I discover three phases of acceptance as she journeyed from fear to faith to embrace her God-sized opportunity. The Bible says in Luke 1:26-38 that after an angel appeared to her she was “confused and disturbed,” but the angel comforted her with a “Fear not.” After she understands God’s plan a little better she takes a step forward, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” God’s messenger, Gabriel, patiently explains things a little more clearly and Mary’s final response is one of faith, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

When God-sized opportunities come along, I think it’s natural to be cautious and afraid, and God is patient with us. He knows we are made of dust and understands our position of fear. So He offers comfort instead of rebuke. That’s phase one, and God wants us to grow beyond our fear and trepidation.

Phase two is acceptance, but with a lot of questions and reservations. “Okay, but how?” And phase three is surrender. It’s when we say, “Okay, whatever you want, I’m in. Do your thing, God!”

I spent seven months on that three-phase journey. Mary spent mere moments. You may be stuck in phase one or two right now. You know God wants to use you to share your faith with your neighbor, encourage your friend, or sign up to serve others in some way, but you’re either afraid, or you’re accepting but with questions and reservations. The sooner you say “Yes, Lord! I’m Your servant – do whatever you want to do with my life,” the sooner you begin to experience the outrageous, contagious joy of experiencing His work and power in your life.

What is God calling you to do, or to keep doing, that you have reservations about because of feelings of inadequacy? Maybe today is the day to say, “Yes!”

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