“Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God…nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” – Luke 1:34-38 (NRSV)
I give the same set of questions to every couple I meet for premarital counseling. The questions cover important topics that you might assume a couple has already discussed, such as: What individuals or institutions would you turn to for help if things felt difficult in your marriage?
What kind of career accommodations do you expect to make and/or do you expect your partner to make for your relationship? Do you want to have children? How will you balance career and child rearing?
The questions, and more that I ask, are meant to generate conversation and clarify expectations. We want understand what we are getting ourselves into before we make a lifelong commitment. We want to know how it will all work out. However, these questions can only go so far. In fact, there is a lot they cannot address because there is so much to life that remains a mystery to us until the moment we’re standing in the middle of it. We cannot know how our story will play out or how exactly we’ll respond to it. It’s tough to know the “how” but we can get a sense for the “who”.
Mary’s question to the visiting angel is a how question. “How can this be?” The angel’s response about the “how” is very sparse on specifics. But the angel isn’t as concerned with the “how”, the angel focuses on the “who”, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Sometimes we hesitate when we we’re unable to see the specifics of a call. When our questions of how find vague or no answers it can give us pause. Yet our willingness to follow in faith, to commit our lives, is never built upon the “how” in the scriptures. It’s always founded upon the “who.”
Who is like God?
Willingness in the faith is not about committing ourselves to a definitive plan, it’s about committing ourselves to a divine person.
“It’s always a leap of faith when you get involved with somebody.” – Christian Slater
God of the impossible, when you call, give me the faith to lean not on my own understanding but to trust and act in you. Amen