"Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her" (Luke 1:38).
TRUE GREATNESS OF CHARACTER IS MEASURED BY THE MANNER IN WHICH WE DEAL WITH GOD'S WILL FOR OUR LIVES. No greater human character is possible than that of the person who humbly puts "self" at the disposal of God's purposes, yielding to His will without reservation. Unfortunately, our frame of mind sometimes fails to show this kind of respect for God.
Conditions. Confronted with what we know to be God's will, it often happens that we try to bargain with Him on the terms. We are willing to do what is right -- but only if God will guarantee an outcome that is acceptable to us. If obedience is going to require some significant sacrifice, for example, we may agree to obey as long as God makes it up to us in some other way.
Complaining spirit. Our obedience is sometimes characterized by resentment and grumbling. We may do what we have to do, but we may also let it be known that we don't like doing it. To be honest, much of the talk that goes on inside our heads on an average day is a kind of "muttering under our breath" about the unpleasant aspects of following God. Mental complaining can become a habit.
Martyr spirit. It's an unfortunate fact that if the devil can't get us any other way, he can frequently get us through pride. In the act of obeying God -- perhaps doing something that goes beyond the ordinary call of duty -- we often give ourselves a secretly satisfying pat on the back. If others just knew how much we've sacrificed, they'd know how truly special we are!
What God desires, however, is the attitude of Mary: "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." No conditions or bargaining with God. No murmuring or grumbling. No self-pitying martyrdom. Just a humble, and therefore noble, willingness to be used at God's discretion. Can we not see that this is the only path toward peace for our souls? We can't have peace without our God, and we can't have God without His will. "In his will is our peace" (Dante Alighieri).
"Self-will should be so completely poured out of the vessel of the soul into the ocean of the will of God, that whatever God may will, that at once the soul should will; and that whatever God may allow, that the soul should at once willingly embrace, whether it may be in itself sweet or bitter" (Louis de Blois).