As I write this, I am concluding day two of my second visit to the Holy Land. We spent the day in Galilee, visiting the towns of Nazareth, Cana, and Tabgha. I feel enormously blessed to be back in this place where, as we heard this morning, “the Word became flesh.” Just thinking about that brings me chills and causes my eyes to tear up. Who are we that the Son of God should come to save us? It’s such a humbling thought, and yet, throughout the day today, I have been reminded that God does come to us over and over in our lives. He seeks us out, invites us to come to Him, and implores us to follow Him. We but need to answer with one word…
At the Basilica of the Annunciation, we heard how Mary’s “yes” changed the world. Her willingness to do what God asked of her should not be taken for granted. Mary was a teenaged girl, not much more than a child. As my friend reminded me today, Mary was a young child, one day playing with dolls, the next betrothed to Joseph, and shortly thereafter expecting the child of the Holy Spirit. And yet, she said, yes. Imagine, an angel appears out of nowhere, tells her she’s going to bear the Messiah, and she says, yes.
Imagine, too, a young man who has just finished his apprenticeship and is ready to marry. He becomes betrothed to a fourteen-year-old girl. His whole life is planned out and lying ahead of him. And then he learns that, not only is his betrothed pregnant, she claims that the Spirit of the Lord overcame her and left her with child. As he ponders breaking off their betrothal, an angel visits to tell him to trust, believe, and agree. And Joseph answered, yes. Yes to taking Mary and her child into his home. Yes to raising this baby to be the savior of the world. Yes to humbling himself before God and man.
One of my favorite sayings is, we plan, God laughs. In fact, I recently wrote about accepting change, and why change can be good and rewarding. I don’t believe in coincidence but in the perfection of God’s plans. Everything happens according to His plan, not ours. Like young Mary and the carpenter, Jospeh, we make plans. We lay out what we want our lives to be like. We make lists, keep calendars, set times. And then God steps in. After the ultimate altering of plans to follow God’s plan, Mary understood this. Years later, at Cana, she told the wine stewards,”Do whenever He tells you.” And to her son, she merely let it be known that God decides when one’s time has come. So, what did the stewards and the son of Mary do? They said, yes.
Yesterday, we heard quite a lot about Jonah, who said no to God, and we all know how his journey went. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather fly home from this encounter with God than find myself in the belly of a big fish!
This afternoon, as the sun shone above us and the temperatures reached about 76 degrees, we were to visit several places, but… We received a warning that tomorrow would bring storms and rough seas. Our plans were switched, and we headed to the Sea of Galilee for our boat ride. Why were our plans rearranged? What was God trying to tell us? We may never know, but as a result of the change, we got to drive along the beautiful Golan Heights and see the site where Jesus cast demons into the swine, a site not often seen by visitors. Our leader told us it was the most beautiful and colorful she had ever seen the Sea.
Here’s what I know: when God calls to me, when He invites me to join Him, when he asks me to alter my plans and trust Him, I will remind myself that, no matter what my own plans may be, God expects me to give a very loud, firm, and resounding, YES.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018.