The Greatest Gift
Reading Selection for December 20th
“When All the Miracles Begin”
Luke 1:6-7, 13-14, 17 (NLT) – “6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old… 13 But the angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,… 17 ‘He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.’”
We know from the next several verses that Zechariah questions the angel and asks for evidence that this will happen…in other words he doubts what the angel says. The sign that the angel gives Zechariah is that he is mute until his son, John–the promise of the goodness of God to this righteous couple–is born.
Why is it so hard sometimes to believe God wants to be good to us? Why is it easier to believe that life has always been hard and ugly and it always will be? Why do we allow our circumstances to dictate our view of God instead of the Truth?
Honestly, I know why it was hard for Zechariah to believe the angel. God, the Triune Creator of the Universe, the Most High God, YHWH had been silent for FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. There had not been one true prophet, there had not been one deliverer, there had not been one angelic appearance in four centuries. There had only been one long, hard, dry silence.
But the silence was a statement. And people like you and me didn’t know what to think about it. So instead of remembering all the faithfulness of God and His calls to return to Him and His desire to love them, they chose to believe a lie. The lie that God had abandoned them; the lie that God is not good; the lie that His mercies fail; the lie that He is not longsuffering; the lie that He did not love them.
Sometimes Love lets us reap the consequences of our choices. While God did not speak during those four hundred years, He continued to communicate His faithfulness and Love – the sun rose and set every day; rain came and watered the earth; crops grew; herds reproduced; babies were born; all of creation sang His praise and pointed the eyes of God’s people upward from where their help would come.
And in the inner spaces of the Temple at the end of the silence, an angel declared and a righteous man forgot. He forgot Love.
I’ve often read the story of how Zechariah was mute and thought it was the punishment of God for His unbelief. But as I reconsider it, I wonder if his muteness wasn’t a gift. A gift that kept him from talking himself out of the miracle.
Have you ever talked yourself into misery? Have you ever rehearsed your doubt out loud so long that nothing could convince you otherwise?
In the centuries of silence, in the barrenness of a land, in the fruitlessness of a womb and in the muteness of a tongue God was still declaring Advent – Your Messiah Is Coming! And it reverberated throughout the universe loud enough for all to hear.
What about you? Are you in a dry or barren season? Are the echoes of your own doubt all you can hear? What if you could take a deep breath, pray for the grace to receive and just simply ask God what He’s speaking to your heart right in the middle of your desert? Are you willing to hear what He has to say? I bet it sounds like Advent.