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Least Likely to Succeed

Back in the first century, Mary and Joseph’s hometown of Nazareth was small and insignificant: About 200 or so poor or working-class people lived there. Remember in John Chapter 1, a disciple named Philip told his friend Nathanael, “Come and see the Messiah. He’s from Nazareth.” And Nathanael said, “Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?” Nazareth is hardly an obvious place for the Son of God, Israel’s Messiah and the world’s Savior, to call his hometown.

But isn’t that just like God to choose this unlikely girl from this unlikely town to bring God’s Son into the world? Isn’t God always doing this sort of thing? For example, when God first put his saving plan for the world into action, he made a covenant with the least likely person: A 75 year old man named Abraham. God chose this man to start a family that would become God’s covenant people, whose descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Never mind that Abraham and his wife were unable to have children. Never mind that they were way too old to be starting a family. Never mind that another 15 years would pass before Abraham and Sarah have their promised son. Gabriel’s words to Mary surely applied to him: “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Later, God chose Abraham’s descendants, who were slaves in Egypt, to be God’s people. “Nothing is impossible with God.” And he chose as their spokesman a man named Moses, who likely had a speech impediment or who stuttered, to confront the most powerful man in the world. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Still later, God called the youngest and least impressive of Jesse’s seven sons, David, to become his greatest king. “Nothing is impossible with God.”

As Paul told the believers at Corinth, “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:28)

Remember the “senior superlatives” in your high school yearbook? “Most popular,” “Most congenial,” “Most likely to succeed”? If people were voting for the woman “most likely to be the mother of God’s Son,” they wouldn’t have voted for Mary. Fortunately, God knows what he’s doing!

Isn’t there a lesson there for us? Maybe you were never voted “most likely,” “most popular,” “prettiest,” “best looking.” “funniest…” But look out! You may be just the person God is looking for! You are a unique and wondrous creation of God. No one in the world—no one in all of human history, no one who has ever lived—possesses your unique set of gifts, your unique talents, your unique personality. No one is as good at being you as you are. God made you for a purpose and has a plan for your life. Don’t think for a minute that you can’t be used by God, or you’re not good enough to be used by God, or that you have to get all the problems of your life sorted out before you can start living for God.

Living a Christian life—which means being a faithful follower of Jesus—is not for the few, the proud, the super-saintly among us… It’s for the “normal,” the imperfect, the “least likely” people… like you and me.

Do you believe that God has a plan and purpose for your life? Can you think of ways that God has used you to bless others? List some ways. Pray that you can be a blessing to someone today.

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