When someone on stage asks for a volunteer, are you quick to raise your hand? Not me. Maybe because I ask for volunteers in my job, and it usually involves that person having to do a role play in front of a room full of people. In several cases, the volunteer is used as a deficit learning exercise to show that they are lacking the skill I’m about to train. Yet, when I ask for a volunteer, people usually raise their hands.
Of course, if no one raises their hand, I say, “If I don’t have any volunteers, someone is going to get volun-told!” That’ll usually get at least someone, but they’re pretty skeptical. For me, I don’t like to volunteer unless I know what I’m volunteering for. If I know, I don’t mind raising my hand usually. I just like to know what I’m getting into. But if someone is just looking for a volunteer, and there’s no reason given, I’m not your guy.
In Isaiah 6, he describes being in Heaven and realizing how small and sinful he is. After an angel touches his lips with coal to purify him, God starts talking to the assembly of heavenly beings. In verse 8 he hears the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” Then he said, “Here I am. Send me” (NLT). Can you imagine it? God was looking across Heaven for a volunteer, and Isaiah speaks up.
I believe God is still looking for volunteers. Sometimes, like Isaiah, it’s to carry His message. Other times it may be just to encourage someone. Sometimes it’s to buy a meal for someone. Even if you don’t know what you’re volunteering for, I believe we should all be willing to pray, “Lord, I know you need volunteers today to make yourself known. I want you to know I am here and available. Pick me.”
In Luke 1, two different people are told by the angel Gabriel that something amazing will happen to them. They responded almost identically, yet one was punished and one was praised. One spent the next several months unable to speak, while the other used their voice to praise God. How we respond to the plans God has for us matters. When God first puts them in our heart, they scare us because they seem impossible to accomplish on our own. Through the years, I’ve discovered if God put it in you, it’s impossible to do on your own.
Zechariah was a man who was up in age. He was a faithful servant of God and even served as a priest in the Temple. One day, while performing his duties, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary to burn incense before God. After he entered, Gabriel appeared to him to bring him the message that his wife would become pregnant and have a son. In verse 18, Zechariah responded, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years” (NLT). It seems like a logical question, but it upset Gabriel to the point that he made Zechariah mute until the baby was born.
Mary was a young lady who was engaged to be married. She believed in God, but wasn’t involved in ministry. She was going about her normal business when Gabriel paid a visit to her. He gave her the incredible news that she would become pregnant while still a virgin. In verse 34, she responded, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Again, this is a logical response to the angel, but this time he wasn’t angry. Instead he gave an explanation. So what was the difference? Their responses are very similar.
One was born out of doubt and one out of faith. One saw the impossibility and questioned God’s ability, while the other’s faith made them curious. Look at their responses again. One wanted proof it would happen and the other wondered how God would accomplish His will. There’s a significant difference, and I think it’s important how we respond to the things God reveals to us. So many times we want proof from Him instead of trusting that He’ll do what He says. I don’t know what God placed in your heart, but I can imagine it’s pretty big. Instead of asking Him for proof, trust Him to do it, and be available as Mary was.