Have you ever felt like you had to be special in order to be chosen for something? If you ever applied for a scholarship, a new job, or to a competitive program, you can probably understand feeling like you have to stand out.
Long ago, somewhere in the most desolate-looking town of ancient Israel, was a girl named Mary. She didn’t have the prospects of an exciting career or future. Mary could only look forward to a—hopefully successful—arranged marriage that would benefit herself and her family. At the time we are introduced to her in Bible, she is in the middle of a marriage engagement. Judging by the way she’s described in the Bible, I don’t think Mary thought she was someone really important. I don’t think she imagined that others saw her that way, either.
My mother was born in a busy, small section of Romania called Ileanda. In 2011, the census recorded that there were only 2,256 people residing in Ileanda. Even today, few native Romanians recognize the name of the location if you say you are from there. That is how I imagine Nazareth, an insignificant place with a population of under 500. God sent Gabriel, the angel who carried the greatest responsibility in heaven, to that tiny, dusty village, and into the direct presence of a teenage girl.
The Bible says, “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” Luke 1:28. We usually take this passage in the Bible to mean Mary was more virtuous than all the other women, and that’s why God singled her out. Yes, Mary was a person of beautiful character, but she could not have earned God’s favor, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 8:23. God did not choose Mary because she deserved the calling God gave her. She did not deserve it, just like you and I would not have deserved it. Do you know why Mary was “highly favored” and “blessed among women”? Because God revealed an inspiring amount of grace; God was not embarrassed or afraid to work with humanity to achieve His plan. Mary believed and accepted. That is all she did, and even her faith was fueled by the presence of the Holy Spirit in her heart.
You have also been chosen. God hand-picked you for salvation before you took your first breath. All you need to do is let go of pride and accept the gift. Will you trust His plans for you and let go of your own? You have been favored by the Lord, to the point that Jesus died for you. Accept Him today. Allow Him to transform your life for the better. Blessed are you among women.