The world changed with a single “yes.” A young Hebrew girl said it, and only an angel heard it. It was small and unimportant to most of the world, yet that “yes” released a destiny that impacted the world like no other. Mary was undoubtedly overwhelmed and humbled as Gabriel began describing the destiny God designed for her. She could not understand what it would all mean or visualize the result, but with admirable faith, she said “yes” to God’s plan.

We know how things started and ended, but we rarely think about the process Mary went through to deliver her God-designed destiny. It didn’t happen in a moment. It unfolded over time. It wasn’t simple. It was complicated. Her destiny was like no other, but it was equally just like all others. Mary was exceptional in her willingness to submit to God’s plan faithfully, but the fact that God had a plan for her wasn’t unique. She was special in that she would miraculously give birth to the Son of God – Savior of the world, but that God would birth something miraculous from her life wasn’t unusual. People called to deliver a God-designed destiny fill the pages of Scripture. History records the names of those who allowed God to do miraculous things through their lives. Yes, Mary was alone in delivering the Messiah into the world. No, she wasn’t alone in being called to deliver a God-designed destiny. You and I are called to produce a God-designed destiny, too!

Giving birth to a destiny is not an event; it’s a process. The story of Mary often focuses on the birth of Jesus, but His birth was not the beginning of the story. It was by process that Jesus was born into the world through her. You have something in common with Mary. Your destiny is different, but your process is the same. Suppose God has designed you to bring a child into the world, give birth to a company, book, movie, invention, friendship, or in fact – anything else. In that case, you will experience a conception, expectation, delivery, and realization. Something is conceived within you. Destiny conceived becomes destiny expected. Expectation becomes your destiny being delivered from within you and into the world. Delivery becomes realization as you begin living in the destiny God designed for you. You are in every one of those stages in some area of your life right now. What does set Mary apart is that she entered the process intentionally. She said “yes” to God’s plan and changed the world.

What difference has God created you to make? What destiny has He deigned to be birthed from your life? Each step of the process includes unique variables and specific mile markers. Stages can’t be skipped or rushed, but must be lived through. There are many stories of those whom God called to leadership roles who never saw their destiny manifested. What if a better understanding of the process could have prevented burnout, sadness, heartbreak, and even a sense of having failed God?

I know how that feels. The first church Kristy and I planted in Lombard, Illinois, did not go how we thought it would. We started with just the four of us, and after three years of great effort, we resigned from a church of around forty people. I felt like the world’s greatest failure. Yes, people had been saved, discipled, and loved. But, what we left was different from what I had dreamed of when we arrived. Moving into our next assignment on The Big Island of Hawaii, I secretly hoped that things would go so well with secular work and helping in a local church that I would not have to lead another church. That hope dissipated in just a few weeks. The pastor left, and the congregation of seventeen people asked us to serve as pastors. To our amazement, that church grew rapidly. The most shocking part was that while dedicated to the church, I worked a secular job from the beginning. We had given so much more time and personal energy to the church in Illinois, and it struggled. In Kona, our time was limited, yet it succeeded. It took a while, but I realized that what I saw as failure in Chicago was part of a process. God was developing me. I was growing spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. The process was preparing me for a destiny I had not yet realized. The lessons from Chicago set us up for success in Kona. The lessons were hard, the victories were worth it, and my alignment with God’s process was absolutely necessary.

You must live through your process. You hurt yourself trying to bypass God’s plan. There are no shortcuts to destiny. Looking for the easy button will leave you consistently disappointed. When hope is deferred, the heart becomes increasingly unhealthy. If deferment takes too long, you could give up altogether. The entire story of Jesus coming to earth to save His people from their sins reveals God, Himself, working through a process. His goal was to make salvation available to all humanity. It was a big and bold plan worthy of divinity, but it was unrealized until Mary aligned with the strategy and allowed the process to begin and continue within her.

There’s too much in Mary’s story to unpack in this short article, so let me focus on a critical reality: The process does not stop unless you stop it. A process always starts at the beginning and continues to completion unless it’s aborted. The truth is that the abortion of destiny happens every day. Israel was delivered from Egypt, provisioned by God to launch a nation with Egypt’s wealth, provided a clear path and a fantastic leader, but aborted the process at the Jordan River. Only Joshua and Caleb said, “No, we’ll keep the baby.” They are also the only ones who survived the wilderness. They didn’t stop the process in their life, and they thrived.

Some stray from God’s plan because they decide they know better. They’ve seen or heard something that interests them, and they’re determined to go that direction. Others, like Israel, are afraid. They know what God has designed them to create, but they are so scared of what they see, they walk away. I think most people who abort a God-designed destiny do so simply because they aren’t aware enough to track their progress in the process. At a point in time, they believe the process is over. What they see isn’t what they dreamed, and they stop moving forward. Don’t stop! Your process is not over.

The brutal reality is that the bigger the destiny, the greater the process. An elephant’s gestation period of around two years differs significantly from the twenty-day gestation period of a mouse because what’s delivered is so much greater. Every moment in utero, your destiny is unseen and unknown, but it’s actively drawing resources from your life. We feel the drain; we may fear the future, but we don’t yet see the baby. The longer it goes, the more difficult it is to remain in the process, but don’t stop. A God-designed destiny is always worth the cost.

Mary was asked to deliver the single most extraordinary destiny into the world. Her process had eternal implications like no other destiny ever would. Her “yes” started a process that all Hell and humanity tried to abort, but Mary remained faithful. At some point, the time of her delivery arrived, and Jesus was born. What was it like watching her destiny heal the sick, raise the dead, and speak hope into hopeless lives? What was it like watching her destiny hang on a cross and die only to rise again? What did Mary think when she walked through the doors of the Upper Room to wait for the Promise of the Father? I don’t know what she thought, but I do know that she had heard a promise before. Gabriel had said, “The Holy Spirit will move over you, and you will bring forth a Son and call His name Jesus. He will save His people from their sin.” So, I imagine that Mary walked into the Upper Room, and when the wind blew, she smiled and said, “Hello, old friend. My answer is still “yes.”’ And the Holy Spirit moved over her again and conceived a new destiny.

God has a destiny designed for you. I encourage you to say “yes” to the process. It will be the most incredible journey of your life. Because Mary said “yes” many years ago, I say to you today, “Merry Christmas.”

Micah Sutton is a husband, father, pastor, and leader. He and his wife, Kristy, live in Sylvania, Ohio, with their two sons, Talon & Tyrian. He serves as senior pastor of Five Lakes Church. Connect with him at micahsutton.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.