In the Old Testament, God traveled with the Israelites in different forms to protect them. The Israelites knew that their God was fighting for them because they could physically see God going before them and behind them.
We’ve all felt the pressure to maintain our reputation. Maybe it’s the reputation of making straight A’s. Maybe it’s to be the best on your sport’s team or to make everyone laugh in class. As our lives progress and we interact with others, we build reputations around ourselves, and these reputations create expectations for who we have been and who we are going to be.
We all perceive our own reputations differently. Imagine yours in a few words. Then, think about a day when you didn’t live up to it. Maybe you barely passed a test or forgot about a due date. Maybe you fumbled or struck out. When the expectations we set for ourselves aren’t met, feelings of shame and failure can creep into our hearts.
Thousands of years ago, Mary experienced this firsthandly. Everyone expected her to maintain her virginity until she was married, and she did just that. But the expectations of her reputation weren’t met because she became pregnant with baby Jesus. How would anyone now believe that she was the person who she built her reputation to be? She felt the same shame we experience, even in the face of pure obedience.
Still, she chose to follow God’s will for her life, even if it meant people would not believe the reputation she had made. She chose to follow God despite what others would think. She compromised her reputation and took on shame because she had her eyes focused on the only opinion that really mattered—God the Father’s.
This selfless obedience is the ultimate act of bravery. Think about sacrificing your reputation, all you have been built up to be, in order to bring Glory to God. When our personal identity and who God says we are, conflict with each other, we risk ruining our reputation and feeling the shame of that choice. But, much like Mary, it is the ultimate act of bravery, and it doesn’t come without reward. God promises us that.
“And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb... and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."
Mary’s choice, while difficult, brought her the ultimate gift. She became the mother of the Almighty Savior of the world! She will forever be someone chosen by God to do his good work, even when it was hard. Following Him is worth it, every single time.
You are also chosen by the Creator Himself. What is he calling you to be? Maybe you don’t take the glory for your athleticism, you give it to Him. Maybe you chose kind words to a friend, rather than being funny. Maybe he asks you to step out and be a leader in your youth group, even if your friends don’t think it’s cool. You may feel like you’ve lost your identity, even ashamed at times.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
But, the Lord’s promises are true! He rewards humility and obedience, and He will reward your ultimate act of bravery. And the reward will be better than you can ask or imagine. Challenge yourself to listen to what God has for you and step out in faithful obedience. He is worth it every single time!