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January 8, 2024

This month’s Pastor’s Perspective is delivered by Rev. Michael A. Cobb, Dalraida Global Methodist Church

mike cobb

When you think of a word like “surrender” what comes to mind? I think about white flags with hands raised, tapping out on the mat, or essentially giving up. But I love what someone told me about surrender: “It isn’t giving up, it’s letting go.”

Letting go is hard for most of us. It was hard for me when I lost my Dad’s old fishing lure; I had to let it go. It was certainly hard for Mary in light of Gabriel’s extraordinary message. But understanding it fully may change the way you feel about the idea of surrender.

Gabriel is one of two named angels in Scripture. He shows up three times throughout the Bible: once to Daniel, with Zechariah, and then to Mary. Each time, he was sent by God and, for our context, it was to a small town called Nazareth- maybe 20 to 30 acres in size (Alabama or Auburn’s football stadium will dwarf the town). Back then it was a broken down, poor town that played host only to passersby. No wonder Nathaniel replies in the Christmas story, “Is there anything good that comes from Nazareth?” But Nazareth is where Gabriel appears to a virgin named Mary, and here’s his message: “‘Greetings, favored woman, the Lord is with you… Don’t be afraid, you have found favor with God.’” (Luke 1:28-30). In this context, God is given the Greek word Charis, which means Grace (unmerited favor). Gabriel tells her she will give birth to a son, that he will be called Emmanuel, or “God with us.”

Now Mary, being somewhere between 12-15 years old, thought, “You’ve got the wrong person” or “wrong number,” or more appropriately, “How will this be, since I am a virgin.” (Luke 1:34) She doubted herself and the ability to carry it through. After all, what would Joseph or others say? She was going to have to try to explain this to Elizabeth. Will she even believe her? Then, visiting her cousin Elizabeth, at the sight of Mary she cried out, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” That, along with Gabriel’s reminder of a covenant she probably heard all her life from Psalm 89 helped Mary surrender: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).\

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are favored because moments that come and go in our life create everything we remember. Sometimes those moments create heightened sense of love, belonging, excitement, and joy.

I remember God’s amazing work and goodness with helping me recall something as crazy as a $3 fishing lure. It was special because my Dad gave it to me the year before he died. Then there are other times we experience moments we hope to forget: failing that test, making a bad financial decision, or a horrible argument.

As we move into 2024, if there is anything you need to surrender, think about Mary. She was chosen in her youth despite all that she would come to endure. Even then, she focused on God’s Word and promise to get her through. More than that, Mary came to realize that surrender wasn’t about moments; it was about a lifestyle.

Michael Cobb is senior pastor of Dalraida Global Methodist on Atlanta Highway in Montgomery.

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