By Sharon Gartland

Making Space for God

Taking time to come afresh to very familiar Scriptures is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this advent season. To help grow a sense of expectancy that God has something to reveal to you once more through his Word, we have provided some guiding questions to ponder this passage and it’s application in your own life.

Luke 1:26-38 (TNIV)

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

 

Bible Study

1. This passage shows a pattern of God initiating and Mary responding. What are the ways in this passage you see God initiating? What progression of responses are seen in Mary? What do you imagine might have helped prepare her to so quickly surrender herself to this call?

2. Mary was being called to breathtaking privilege and unspeakable pain. In what ways does God give comfort and provision to Mary in this passage? What promises is she given?

3. God chooses to not circumvent the process. Mary must go through the pregnancy and childbirth in order to bring about the culmination of this calling. How might the process prepare her for the call (and further calls on her life?)

Personal Reflection

1. Where do you resonate with Mary’s call? Where do you see disconnect between your experience and Mary’s?

2. What is it that fills up your space for God? Why do you think this is so?

3. What has God called you to in the past? What new thing might God want to birth in you? What kind of response does that elicit in you?

4. What might you need to let go of or lay down to make space for God to do the work God desires to do through you? What sense do you have of God’s promises and provision in the midst of that call? What promises or provision might you pray for God to supply in order that his work may be accomplished through you?

For further reflection on this passage, read the dramatic interpretations of Mary written by Jerusha Neal, and first performed at our “Finding Space for God” conference for Women in the Academy & Professions.

About the Author

Sharon Gartland, OTD, OTR, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program at UW-Madison where her specialty is in developmental disabilities.  She enjoys the combination of teaching, administrative and clinical responsibilities that makes up her job. She is the former national director of Women in the Academy & Professions and continues to participate in the ministry as a volunteer and frequent contributor. She is married to Craig Gartland, a local church pastor and former long-term InterVarsity staff and leader. Together they have four children who are gradually getting launched into the world as functional adults but continue to store a lot of their stuff in the basement. She believes strong prayer practices and a supportive faith community are key to flourishing in career and family life. 

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