|"The voice of One, crying in the desert,|
Make Way for the Coming of the Lord..."
Zachariah (his name means "God has not forgotten")! I love his story. He, together with Elizabeth, are blessed to be chosen to be the mama and papa of the famous cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist.
Miracles happened in the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth. When I think of that, I think, how "lucky" to use today's language, were they! They were old and barren and didn't seem to have a chance of having a child. And then, along comes John. If I had been Elizabeth, I probably would have wanted to put John in a glass case and be sure he had a "perfect" and pain-free life. I would have wanted to pick out the perfect wife for him and be sure he lived close enough for me to see my grandchildren, because, of course, he would give me some. After all, this was the miracle I had prayed for and now that I had it, I would not easily let him go.
But the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth's miracle doesn't unfold like that, It starts out with Zachariah being struck dumb by the Angel Gabriel because he didn't quite believe what he had been told by this angel from above. Can we blame him? After all, how many angels have visited your house lately (at least that you have SEEN)?
If we buy into the "prosperity" gospel of some of the TV preachers of our time, one would think that once God tuned into their need, every little thing that Zachariah and Elizabeth asked for was fulfilled in the birth of this child. But, in fact, this was only the beginning of a long journey for them, marked with the unmistakable scourge of suffering.
Zachariah and Elizabeth were old by the time God gave them the answer to the prayer they had prayed all of their lives. And when He finally answered them, they weren't even sure what to make of it. Can't you just see Zachariah looking around him to see if anybody else had heard what he heard. He is "dumbfounded" quite literally. Isn't that just like us? We are endlessly praying for blessing, and then, blown away when it actually happens!
I wonder sometimes, if I would want to be one of those that God blesses with miracles. The miracle just doesn't seem to play out the way I would write it. After all, consider what happened to the miracle of John the Baptist.
He wanders off into the desert, abandons Mom and Dad, becomes some kind of a religious fanatic, never marries or gives them grandchildren, fails to take on a respectable career, stirs up the masses with his radical call to repentance, makes enemies of the political rulers in town and ends up being murdered ruthlessly for his efforts. Any illusions that they had that this son would make their lives easier evaporated in the reality that this son of theirs belonged first to God and would not be content to let anyone else, including, Mom and Dad, define his calling. Do you suppose that this was all easy for them to accept? I doubt it. And yet, it is this son of theirs that Jesus blesses with the proclamation that "Not one, born of woman, is greater than John the Baptist!" Matt: 11:11
No the touch of God, the answer to their prayers, the "miracle" of their son, brought to them great blessing and great heartache all at the same time. Makes me think we need to understand God's miracles are His, not ours.
Whenever God draws close to us and shares with us His plan, His work, His miracle, we had better be well prepared. It will most likely involve suffering and dying to ourselves and our own desires. Maybe that was the biggest part of this miracle. Zachariah and Elizabeth had come to a place in their lives where they were ready to give all back to God, no matter the cost. As a mother, I marvel at this. Part of me wants to say, Yes, Lord. And part of me wants to say, all but this, Lord...
Maybe I need a little more time before I'm ready for a miracle...