Day 15

December 12

December 12

Luke 1:26-33

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Yielding to God’s Will

by Ronald Angelo Johnson, Ph.D.

We are on cusp of big changes. We can feel it! Last year, we were in the depths of the viral pandemic. Astonishing advances in medical science and shared sacrifices toward the social compact have shown us the possibility of enjoying again the excitement of “normal.” The joy of expectation, however, does not vanquish the existence of fear. A specter of “What if…?” remains.

In Luke’s telling of Jesus’s birth, Mary was on the threshold of a new life. The young girl’s pledge to marry brought excitement and challenges. The unexpected arrival of God’s messenger heralded great news. What joy Mary may have experienced at realizing, in her small town, God saw her. The Almighty God knew her. The angel led with, “The Lord is with you.” Then came the ask. God called Mary to become something she had never been: mother to the Son of the Most High. That Mary was “greatly troubled” is probably an understatement. Mary was not alone. God’s mission required greater commitment from her husband-to-be and her community. And the angel assured her, “The Lord is with you.”

One of the harder parts of my Christian journey is yielding to God’s will when I already have a plan. When things seem fine in my life, why does God need to complicate them? In 2017, President Linda Livingstone arrived in Waco with a call: “The world needs a preeminent research university that is unambiguously Christian.” The Baylor Family was asked to become something it had never been. The journey requires greater commitment from all members of the worldwide Baylor community: students, staff, parents, alumni, athletics programs, researchers, instructors, administrators, and partners. We are called to achieve our works together “with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

There is joy in being a part of God’s change among us. I believed in God’s call to unite with the Baylor Family a year ago to join in this adventure. Like Mary, we are going have days when fear brings forth the dreaded “What if?” When she wondered how she could accomplish the call, the messenger assured her God’s Spirit would be a constant companion, and God’s power would drive her progress. Therefore, her success would belong to God. Mary ultimately responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

There is great joy in knowing—truly knowing—no matter what challenges lie ahead, God sees us. God knows us. In God’s call to our community lies a promise. God is with us. God’s power will drive our advances. Our achievements in this world—in the lab, on the stage, in the boardroom, in our neighborhoods—will belong to and glorify the Most High God.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O, Come, O Come, Emanuel.” It’s a beautiful piece of music with an eternal message. Mary’s commitment to joy over fear brought Jesus, Emanuel, to the world. Let us try to hear anew and sing with greater joy the song of Emanuel. The resounding chords proclaim God is with us as, together, we become something we have never been before.

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Ronald Angelo Johnson, Ph.D.Ronald Angelo Johnson, Ph.D.

Ronald Angelo Johnson, Ph.D., is a researcher of transnational African American history in the early United States, with specializations in diplomacy, race, and religion. Dr. Johnson examines ways we can expand the study of Black Americans’ impact in U.S. history, to enrich our understanding of what it means to be an American.

Dr. Johnson is currently writing a book on racialized U.S. diplomacy with Haiti from the American Revolution through Reconstruction. The study also examines the impact of Haitian immigration on early U.S. religion and culture. He has published articles, essays, and reviews in Early American Studies, Diplomatic History, the Journal of African American History, the Journal of Caribbean History, Baptist History & Heritage, and the American Historical Review.