CBN.com God is looking
for world changers. From the introduction of Shannon Kubiak’s
latest book, God Called a Girl, she communicates that—under
God’s direction—anyone can be a world changer. Using
the example of Mary, the mother of Christ, Kubiak looks at the
miraculous way God uses everyday people to serve His purposes.
Read an excerpt from her book:
FAVORED AND BLESSED
"The angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one,
the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"
--Luke 1:28 (nkjv)
I used to squeal with delight as my dad lowered the well-worn
cardboard box from the rafters on Thanksgiving weekend each year,
for inside the battered box was a precious treasure. The old nativity
set had been in my family for decades, and the hand-painted figurines
captivated me as a little girl. Something about the expressions
on the faces of the statues drew me into the story and took me
away to Bethlehem. Even now, the nativity set is my favorite thing
on display at Christmastime, and I look forward to the day when
the family heirloom will grace my own living room.
Mary was always one of my favorite figures to set out. Delicately
I would place her in the straw next to the manger. She was radiant;
she looked so beautiful with her long brown hair cascading down
her shoulders, covered by a veil. She was absolutely elegant—well,
except for the fact I was setting her in a barn beside some cows
and donkeys. But the look on the figurine's face was one of awe
and reverence as she looked down at the manger where the baby
Jesus lay, her soft pink lips curled into a smile. The detail
in her painted face brought her to life in my mind; her expression
was so tender.
I always imagined the real Mary's face looked somewhat the same
way. I have often wondered what ran through her mind that night,
as she was one of the first to see the King of Glory. I tried
to transplant myself back in time as a means of connecting myself
with the one girl who was more connected to God than any of us
can really understand.
It only took a moment for God to change the world. Everyone else
was busy going about his or her daily routine, unaware that Mary's
story had just been forever interrupted, and life—as the
whole world knew it—was about to change. I imagine the scene
this way (bear with me, I have a vivid imagination): Mary's dad
was at work, and her mom may have been out at the market. Her
siblings were tending to their own tasks, and her fiancé,
Joseph, was out earning a living.
God watched from heaven that afternoon, as the stage He had been
designing ever since the world began was finally set to His liking.
He probably gave a slight nod as He turned to the angel Gabriel.
"Now," He said softly. "But wait," He added
as Gabriel turned back to face Him. "Don't scare her; she
will do just as you ask. So be gentle."
Gabriel nodded as he looked glory in the face one last time before
he set out to eternally alter the lives of mankind. Mary had no
idea a miracle was on the way—and she most certainly had
no idea it was on its way to her womb.
The Gospels tell us Mary was one who was favored and blessed.
My first response was to grab a synonym finder to see just what
that meant. To be favored means: to be preferred, chosen, privileged,
the favorite, affluent, elite, and noble. To be blessed means:
to be exalted, happy, glad, pleased, and contented.
Although those definitions seemed to fit perfectly with what
Luke was saying, a few moments of rummaging through Mary's past
is enough to show that most people did not see her that way. Mary
was just a small-town girl. Not only that, she was a poor girl
from a despised small town.
Mary was a nobody, yet she found favor and blessing with God.
How many times do we look in the mirror and find a nobody staring
back at us? We often limit what God can do with our lives because
we think our upbringing, our appearance, or our life is not a
sufficient tool for the hands of God to use for His glory.
If Mary really was a nobody, all it took for God to make her
"somebody" was one miracle on a lonely day when she
was just going about her daily business. God's formula for success
isn't found in some stuffy rule book. His chosen are not normally
found in palaces (although sometimes He chooses to take them there,
like He did Esther and David), and His favored are often those
who have nothing to offer but one small life—the type of
life nobody else notices until God steps onto the scene.
Yes, God called a girl once before and He will most certainly
do it again. Mary lived a life of passion, purpose, and divine
intervention. She lived a life no other girl in all of time will
ever get to live. Birthing the Savior of the world was a one-time
task, and it fell to a humble teenager in the middle of nowhere.
God could have beamed Jesus down to earth. He could have made
Him a full-blown man instead of a baby. God could have done anything
in order to redeem the world. Funny, isn't it? He chose the
least likely plan of all in order to save mankind. God used
someone a lot like you in order to reach you. He planted himself
in the womb of a virgin in an attempt to get the world's attention.
It was the unfolding of a miracle, and most people didn't even
stop to watch. Even today some who hear of it simply yawn and
give a polite smile.
Years later God is still trying to get the world's attention.
And so it is at you He looks with favor and blessing.
He sees what you do not see—that you are in the
line of Mary. So as the world is passing you by, without even
a glance, God is setting the stage.
"This girl is something," He says to the angels in
His company. "She is a real gem."
Jesus smiles and pauses. "She reminds me of my mother."
Acts 17:26 says God appointed the very time and place each of
us should live. As He mapped out the timeline for all of mankind,
He penciled you in, here and now, for a reason. You have a divine
purpose. God's signature is on your life, and beneath it heaven
can read the words favored and blessed.
Before you rush to the mirror to see if I am telling the truth,
let me warn you—most of the time human eyes see things differently
than God does. Heavenly handwriting is not usually read on earthly
ground, but it is God's identifying mark on those whom He has
chosen. He sees it, He knows it is there, and He knows for what
purpose it was written on your life. And as God was with Mary,
so He will be with you.
We all have purposes—things that connect our hearts to
God and bring His message of salvation just a little bit closer
to those who surround us on earth. And we are all gifted differently
for a reason. There are people you can reach with your life and
your gifts that I could never reach, even if I tried every day
for the rest of my life.
We may not know exactly what our purpose is at the moment, but
we do know the purpose of our purpose: we are to glorify
God with our lives and to use our gifts and passions as a means
of worshiping Him and pointing others toward Him.
Some of us may reach the masses with our lives; others may only
greatly influence a handful of people. But it's not the numbers
that matter—it's the fact that we are impacting people for
the kingdom of God. Luke 5:10 tells us that the angels rejoice
every time one sinner repents. Never underestimate the value of
impacting just one person. Their whole eternity could be altered
as a result of your impact—that's a huge thing!
Other times, God wants us to reach more than one. Recently, I
found myself staring an incredible opportunity in the eye. You
couldn't possibly use me for that, Lord, I thought. That's
way out of my league.
God answered me by saying, Why wouldn't I use you for that?
I'm God, I've called you and equipped you and I own the whole
league—so nothing is out of your reach unless I say it is.
Think about that—nothing shall be impossible to us if God
is in it. Wow!
GOD SUPPLIES THE GIFT AND MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Aside from the recounting of the actual Christmas story, one
of my favorite looks at the heart of God at Christmastime is found
in a little book called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
If you have never read it, I suggest you go to a bookstore and
hunt it out this coming Christmas. In the meantime, I'll give
you a brief synopsis so you have something to look forward to.
The story chronicles the planning and production of an annual
church Christmas play—but this particular year, instead
of choosing the well-churched children to play the lead roles
in the pageant, the director chooses to allow the unruly, obnoxious,
and not well-churched Herdman kids to participate. Do you know
anyone like that?
To make a long story short, the Herdmans had never heard much
about the true meaning of Christmas, and they came from a background
that left them more than a little rough around the edges. The
planning of the pageant becomes what most people would consider
a disaster, as everything seems to go wrong. Even the pageant
itself brings with it some unconventional additions to the narrative
of the birth of Christ—like one of the wise men bringing
a ham to the baby Jesus in lieu of frankincense.
But near the end of the play we see unruly Imogene Herdman—the
Mary in this pageant—with her big hoop earrings, her matted
and tangled hair that hadn't been washed in weeks, and a bulging
black eye, sitting in the spotlight holding the baby Jesus, sobbing
like she never had before.
Yes, all of the regular churchgoers scoffed at her and thought
her unworthy of portraying the mother of Jesus, but God had a
plan for this girl all along. He brought her Christmas like He
never had before. Just like He visited Mary, God visited unlovable
Imogene Herdman and said, "This is My Son—He is My
gift to you."
I know that story is fiction, but it brings up a good point.
We look at Mary and we think of her as a saint. I am nothing
like Mary, we think as we drag ourselves through life completely
missing the point. Hello! Mary was chosen for no reason other
than she was faithful to God. In a moment God turned the poor
girl from out in the sticks into a world changer. So whether you
feel like an Imogene Herdman or the real Mary of Nazareth, rest
assured that God has called you and chosen you—no matter
who or what you feel like inside.
God has a calling on your life so big you cannot even fathom
it. That's why He gives it to you in pieces. Life comes together
like a puzzle, and we are always left waiting for God to put down
the next piece in His perfect timing. The key is learning to trust
God in the process.
When Gabriel first appeared to Mary, he did not say, "Mary,
you will give birth to the Son of God, who at twelve years of
age will get lost on your family trip to the temple because He
is so wise He will even leave the scholars amazed. Your husband,
Joseph, will train Him to be a carpenter, and then at age thirty
He will begin a ministry of healing the sick, raising the dead,
and calming the raging sea. At thirty-three He will be brutally
crucified but will save the souls of all of mankind by rising
from the dead on the third day. Are you up for this task?"
No. Instead he came to Mary quietly and said, "The Holy
Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow
you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be
called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35 nkjv).
That's it. He came and told her she was chosen, and He told her
what she was chosen to do. That is also how God works with us.
God visits us when we are busily going about our daily routine,
and He rests His hand on our shoulder.
"It's time," He says quietly. At this point, we are
not always sure of what it is time for.
All of my life I wanted to be an author. As a child I always
told elaborate stories. I never felt as if I was good with anything
but words—so I desired to use words as a way of reaching
people. Wanting to write a book was a far-off dream, something
that would probably occur in the later years of my life, if at
all. But on one June afternoon, when I was only twenty years old,
God visited me while I was reeling from the fact that my summer
job had fallen through.
I cried out to God many times in my confusion and desperation.
What am I going to do now, Lord? I was lost. There was
no good that I could see in my situation. When I quieted my racing
heart, God answered my cry with an inner nudging: You're going
to write a book.
I laughed, but when God didn't, I sat down at my computer, and
my first book, The Divine Dance, was born. The book didn't
come because of anything I did on my own, and it most certainly
did not come because I had any experience (I was just a college
student looking for something to do with my summer).
It came to me as a gift, packaged as a call on my life, the magnitude
of which I only began to understand when the book was actually
on store shelves a year later. God likes to show up in ordinary
things and make them extraordinary. The ordinary part is us; God
is everything extra. We simply need to make ourselves available
to Him. What He does with our availability is up to Him.
And we should never measure our worth against what He is doing
in the lives of others our age. He has different plans for each
of us. So if you are a little ahead of others when it comes to
finding your call in life, be thankful, but not boastful. If you
feel as if you are a little behind, keep looking to God with an
expectant heart; He will reveal His plan for you in His perfect
timing. Perhaps you are not ready to see—or receive—it
Sometimes people don't even realize what God is doing in their
lives at the moment. Some of us can only trace God's hand years
later, when we're looking back. But rest assured, even if you
cannot see God at work in your life today, He is there.
TWO PIVOTAL PIECES OF TRUTH
In the semester before I graduated from college, a well-known
professor who taught for nearly three decades sat down with me
as I interviewed him for the school paper. He was retiring at
the close of the year, and the weariness in his eyes and the stoop
in his step showed he was more than ready.
As he poured himself a cup of coffee before we began, I surveyed
his well-used office. The white walls had yellowed, and piles
of papers and stacks of books had collected layer upon layer of
dust from having been untouched for so long. An older, now unusable
word processor sat on the floor in the corner, telling the story
of a career changed by all forms of technology. The wise old professor
turned his cell phone off and set it on the table as he sat down
and joined me.
"Where do you want to begin?" His voice was tired,
but his eyes were smiling. In the next half hour or so he recounted
to me nearly thirty years of wisdom he had gained at that institution.
Today, only two pieces of that wisdom remain with me. But they
are two of the most valuable nuggets I ever received. First, he
said, "You must never forget God wants to use you
in the process of blessing you." I scribbled furiously
as he spoke, and only later did I ponder just what that meant
Secondly, when asked to describe the past thirty years of his
life in three words, he said, "God is faithful."
I stopped cold. People normally answered with words like "fun,"
"challenging," and "rewarding" when describing
their walk with God. Yet here this man sat, and without even hesitating
he said, "God is faithful." The statement struck me
in a way I will never forget because this professor had faced
some difficult and painful things over the years, and those wounds
were not easily hidden from the prying student body.
Age gave that professor wisdom that is sometimes missed by youth.
God wants to use us in the process of blessing us. Just look at
how He used Mary. The child she delivered grew up to be the One
who delivered her from her sins. For nine months Mary housed the
Savior of the world in her womb, and from the day He ascended
to heaven, Jesus worked to prepare an eternal home for Mary.
God is faithful—He is always faithful, even when it doesn't
seem like it. Yesterday I responded to an e-mail from an aunt
who was seeking encouragement to pass on to her niece who is fighting
to stay pure and strong in a wild and crazy world. The young girl
is staying faithful, but she is also growing weary. My encouragement
to her was this: Be firm. Do not waver even for a moment on
the commitment you have made to God—He will always be faithful
to you; be faithful to Him in return.
My message is the same to you today. God has called you, He has
gifted you, and He loves you with an everlasting love. Be faithful
to the One who has always been—and will always be—faithful
to you. You are chosen and blessed, just like Mary was. You don't
have to understand why; just accept it and rise to the task at
hand. God will delight in helping you along the way.
YOUR OWN UNIQUE ADVENTURE WITH GOD
Life is one big adventure with God. And He knows the path He
has set you on like the back of His hand. He knows the bumps and
the bends—and He is not worried about them. God knows your
gifts and passions and their potential to bring Him glory. He
knows the lyrics and the notes to the songs He wants you to perform.
He knows the strokes He wants your pencil or paintbrush to make.
He knows the words He wants you to type out on the page. He knows
the child He wants you to influence as you baby-sit or tutor him
or her each week. And He knows the prayer He wants you to say
aloud as you and your team prepare to take the field before a
God's daughters have many different passions, many different talents,
and many different names. We are similar probably in only one
way: we are all favored and blessed. Each of us is called by God
to bring glory to God. Okay, you may be thinking, so
I am favored and blessed. How am I supposed to find out what God
wants me to do with my life now? At least Mary had an angel who
laid it all out for her.
If you are asking a question like that, you are in the right
place. Later on in the book we will talk about Mary's willing
response to God's plan for her life, but for the sake of this
chapter let me simply say that we must be willing to move when
God tells us to—otherwise we will miss the miracle. Mary
simply said, "I am yours, God; do with my life what You will."
Where can you see God's favor and blessing upon you today? What
has He made you especially good at? Don't tell me you are not
good at anything, because I don't believe that for even a minute.
Remember, the thing that made Mary special was the hand of God
on her life. That is what makes you special too. Another word
for favored is advantaged, and another word for blessed is happy.
So what are you advantaged at, and what makes you truly happy?
Most importantly, how can you use that for God's glory? Mary was
nurturing and loving, so much so that when God was going to send
His Son to earth, God sent Him to Mary because He knew she would
care for Jesus better than anyone else out there. Being nurturing
and loving are not things that are going to land your name in
lights, but they may very well be the simple tasks God has penciled
next to your name on His great outline—they were what He
penciled next to Mary's.
Proverbs 18:16 says, "A man's gift makes room for him and
brings him before great men." What is your gift, and how
can you see it making room for you somewhere? Proverbs 22:29 says,
"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before
kings; he will not stand before obscure men." God has big
dreams for His daughters.
Remember, the only thing little about your life is how little
you let God use it. When you give it over fully to God, there
is no limit to what He can do. Don't miss the miracle that is
on its way to you today because you don't understand it. Embrace
your gift (or gifts), step forward, and let God use you. Be a
history maker like Mary was.
When I imagine Mary at the end of her life (here goes my vivid
imagination again), I see a few brown streaks woven throughout
her now gray hair. Her eyes are tired, and her wrinkles make deep
creases around her mouth and just beneath her eyes. I can see
her rocking back and forth in a handcrafted wooden chair made
for her by her Son—her Son she only had with her for a mere
Her husband was gone by then too, and Mary was left alone. But
on this particular afternoon, the one I am picturing in my mind,
the Nazareth sun is offering a warm glow to the quickly darkening
sky. Thinking of Jesus' promise that He went to prepare a place
for her, she pauses for a moment of reflection. It's almost
time to go home, Mary thinks, and once again I will get
to see Jesus. Suddenly her mind is filled with snapshots
playing out like a favorite home movie.
She can see Jesus on the day He came into the world as she cradled
Him in her arms. She can see Him as a pudgy toddler giggling with
glee as He runs into her arms for a hug. She can see Him as He
grew from a boy into a man and became less concerned with doing
His chores and more interested in saving men's souls. And she
can see Him in agony as He hung on the cross. Tears still sting
her eyes as she thinks of that day. But Mary also sees Jesus as
He was the last time she saw Him—radiant at His ascension.
He was going home, and suddenly Mary's heart was filled with delight.
Yes, Mary thought as she watched the setting sun, Gabriel
was right. I am the most blessed of all women. For some reason
God did favor me. I have lived a truly full life.
Mary did not know, on the fateful day Gabriel visited her, all
that God would do with her life or require of her in the process.
She just knew she was favored and blessed—she took God at
His word and stepped into the realm of the miraculous. Only later
on, when she would evaluate her life in hindsight, would she see
how all of the pieces fit.
Mary lived a full life by accepting what it meant to be favored
and blessed, and by rising to the task of a lifetime—one
that wasn't always easy, but certainly proved to be worth it in
the end. She signed up for a lifelong adventure when she was just
a girl. Are you willing to do the same?
Visit the author's Web site.
Purchase God Called
Excerpted from God Called
a Girl by Shannon Kubiak, Copyright © 2005, published
by Bethany House Publishers.
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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