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The Perfect Yes
Today, in this blessed season of Advent, I’m thinking about the Perfect Yes.
The “Perfect Yes”—which is total surrender to God’s will, our own personal fiat—is something most of us stumble over, because often our minds—filled with self-created perceptions, expectations, and doubts—are too active. It’s a challenge to keep ourselves from wondering “what if” about the future, too scary to truly give everything to God, even when we know it’s the right thing to do.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with his most unlikely news, she didn’t hesitate.
“Yahweh wants you to become the mother of His Son—but what do you want?”
What a scary, incomprehensible, and amazing question! Mary’s response, now known as her fiat—basically “Let it be done”—shows a complete and automatic trust in her LORD.
Becoming the Mother of God meant becoming an unwed mother. In the eyes of the first-century Jewish culture, this was an immense scandal which most often resulted in ruin. Before the angel’s appearance, Mary had been relatively secure in her future. She was betrothed to a hard-working artisan, she would lead a respectable and expected life, she would have a warm home, the love of family and friends, and her portion of daily bread.
With the appearance of the angel, all that shattered. Gabriel offered her a choice: the power of the Holy Ghost could come down upon her and conceive the Child, or she could refuse the honour. To accept meant not glory, or fame, or security, but rather the known stigma of being branded a whore for becoming pregnant outside of marriage.
It meant her beloved and betrothed, Joseph, would likely throw her away. She could even be stoned for what others would perceive as an unforgiveable act of adultery. After all, being betrothed in the Jewish world of Mary’s day held the same legal commitments as a marriage in today’s world.
On the other hand, if she refused to accept the angel’s pronouncement she could continue her expected life, wed Joseph, have his children within the respectable bonds of matrimony, and maintain a comfortable, normal existence.
With a YES, her future would be unknown, unstable, and sorrowful. With a NO, her future would be secure (or at least as secure as this changeable world can be) and relatively expected.
There’s an immense comfort in knowing our future is secure. Most of us strive for this. We invest in 401K plans, put money in the bank, or do whatever we can to prepare for the years to come. Planning for the future means we’re striving for expectations.
These expectations take the form of a desire for safety, love, and stability. When those things are threatened, such as with the loss of a job, of a loved one, or when plans for the future go awry, we feel an immense amount of anguish and stress. These are the situations we avoid at all costs as we struggle to maintain our equilibrium so as to protect ourselves from a devastating plummet.
Yet a plummet is exactly what we need—a plummet into God.
Surrendering to Divine Will—wholly, totally, and without reservation—is plummeting into the unknown, but since it’s God’s unknown, we’re always and in all ways not only safe, but immensely blessed by the release. It means jumping off the cliff and allowing the free fall without fearing the need to cling to any branches which may appear along the way. The branches won’t save us, because when we plummet into God we don’t need saving; rather, the harsh branches will disrupt our fall and shred the skin of our hands with our useless efforts.
Still we cling to these branches, because the freefall is scary. Complete surrender is terrifying. That’s why we so often say YES to God, but then when we begin to surrender into Him, we cling to external things in an effort to maintain our personal perception of safety.
When Jesus called Peter to walk on the turbulent water, Peter easily glided across—until he began to doubt. It was that doubt, that action of trying to cling to some semblance of human-created security, which caused him to sink under the waves.
Mary’s fiat—her “Perfect Yes”—is a lesson to us all. We need to strive to emulate this purest of souls, our spiritual Mother. She gave no thought to what the material consequences of her YES might have been. She gave no worry to the insecurity and turbulence of her future. She simply said YES, without hesitation.
God holds us in the palm of His hand, and anytime we say YES to Him, we will be completely provided for—and richly rewarded in the ways that truly matter. It’s when we refuse, when we cling to our own expectations, wishes and perceptions, that chaos ensues.
“Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?” –Matthew 6:26-27