“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” - Luke 1:38

As we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception today, I find myself constantly in awe of Mary. No doubt she had fears from the Angel Gabriel’s appearance and message that she would be the mother of Jesus. Yet, she did not allow her fear to drive, much less stop her. Instead, she trusted and allowed herself to be led by her faith in God’s word. That consistent faith would continue to find itself tested but also carry her through the rest of her life.

This distinction is an ongoing tug-of-war between God and me: will I allow myself to be driven by fear, or led by love? Am I trying to make things happen, or making space for things to happen? I find myself on aspects of both sides in different areas of my life. How to come to a more free place? I look to Mary for inspiration - a gentle, reflective young woman who made space for God in every aspect - and God of course took her on an incredible journey more than she or anyone could have ever imagined.

I find consoling that when I move in fear or my own specific set of plans, things usually never turn out the way I would like; however, when I move in love and openness, I not only receive what I desire - or rather God’s desire within me - but so much more. Not only for me but also those around me. That is, in shifting from expectation to hope, in trusting the process, being present to listen in each moment, perhaps even being open to being surprised, the fullest outcome reveals itself simply along the way. 

Mary allowed God’s will to be done in her not coercively but rather participatively. She could have said, “No, thanks. Find someone else please.” She did not see it coming, she did not plan for it. Yet she not only made the most of it, she fully embraced it. That perhaps is the invitation - could these unexpected pathways be part of God’s way of breaking through to bring us to greater life?

Lord, what experiences are you inviting me to be open to today? Mary, please help me to walk in love and trust like you with God through this day. May the lyrics to Hillsong’s “Oceans” help lead me deeper.

Quyen (Nhi) Ngo