CAN I SHARE WITH YOU?
|Christo de la Concordia, Cochabamba, Bolivia|
As we continue through the Christmas season, I am always mindful for those who will find it a very difficult time as they deal with loss, sorrow, fragment relationships or the aftermath of divorce that sometimes can linger for years. I am aware of several this year who are finding this to be a difficult holiday.
However, if you don’t mind, I thought I’d share some thoughts from this morning at church, more about Christmas than divorce per se, but with some thoughts that might bring some encouragement or meaning for any of my readers.
The focus for today’s message was on Zechariah and Elizabeth, when they were given the announcement that they would have a child, John the Baptist, who would be the forerunner of Messiah, even though they had already grown old and Elizabeth was well beyond the child-bearing years. We examined their situation from a variety of angles, but there were a few points about their example that I think can speak to many of us, no matter what our situation in life. Those are what I want to share tonight.
If you don’t recall the story, you might want to refresh your memory by reading over Luke 1, where the entire story is recorded. One thing we observed is that in the birth narratives of Jesus and John, Elizabeth was that, of the four adults (Joseph, Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth), Elizabeth was the only one who did not receive God’s message through the voice of an angel. She, apparently, got her information only from her husband, Zechariah. In addition, she and Zechariah were promised, not the Messiah as a son, but kind of “second best,” the forerunner for Messiah. In spite of these things, Elizabeth had no complaints, but humbly and gratefully received the gift God has chosen to give, in the manner God chose to give it. Elizabeth was a person who was simply thrilled to be any part of what God was doing. And, in spite of the risk of childbirth at an advanced age, she never made excuses, simply trusting that what God has called her to do, he would also give the strength for her to do, that God never asks more of us than he will enable us to face with his help. Some of you may be facing some pretty hard things right now in your lives…Elizabeth set us a pretty good example, wouldn’t you say?
When the message from God came, Zechariah and Elizabeth were very old, and would have long since given up on the dream of having a baby of their own. In a culture where passing on the family name and inheritance is a very important thing, it would have been tough to have had to let go of that dream. But God had other plans for them. Even though they thought it was all over, that their chance had long since passed, God did not think so. Instead, God thought it was the perfect time in their lives for him to bring them a child. And when he did, Zechariah and Elizabeth were able to embrace the work that God was doing on their behalf and through their obedience.
Are there areas in your life where you feel like it is too late, that your prayers have gone unanswered, causing you to give up hope? The experience of Elizabeth and Zechariah remind us that God’s timing is never too late, and nothing is hopeless with God. God is not bound by our perspectives of the limitations in our lives. He can do things that seem impossible, he answers prayers in his own time, and his work is always perfect. Elizabeth and Zechariah probably felt like they were nearing the end of their lives, the end of their usefulness. They learned that they were just on the verge of the greatest work of God they had ever experienced.
If you are a person who has areas of struggle and hopelessness, let the story of this godly couple rekindle in you the hope that God does know what he is doing, and that you are never beyond the hope and possibilities of God. As they experienced, perhaps you, too, are on the verge of something you can’t imagine at this time, and the best days of your life are yet to come. Don’t give up until God says it is over and you are through. God’s plans transcend our limited understanding, and it is always a mistake to try to place our limits on his possibilities for our lives.
As you move toward your celebration of Christmas, I encourage you to open yourself up to the voice of God, to hear from him as they did, the possibilities that God has in store for your life.
Listen for his voice.
God is always doing incredible things around us if we can but just recognize his hand at work, and then, best of all, let yourself be part of that great work. Then you, too, will have an incredible story to share.