A Time to be Silent (Part One)

10 09 2014

Due to unexpected circumstances, the friendships forged here have been neglected. I miss you all more than you can imagine and pray for you often.

*****

I began reading through the book of Luke, looking for new, amazing things about Jesus. Because He was the focus, I nearly skipped the first chapter. It’s about John the Baptist’s parents. Nothing relevant for me there, right?

Guess again! Here is what I would have missed:

Zechariah was a priest; his wife of the line of Aaron. Both were righteous  before God, walking blamelessly in all the Lord’s commandments and statutes (verse 6).

Yet, Elizabeth was barren.

I imagine her wincing whenever Psalm 127:3 was recited:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

No doubt she wondered at this, carefully scrutinized her heart for hidden sin…and like Job, probably had friends who eagerly ‘helped’ her to do so. Cruel things were said that cut her sad heart deeply. There had to be something wrong. What was she hiding?

Scripture tells us there was nothing wrong with her. “Blameless,” it states.

How many years did she agonize over this?

“What’s wrong with me? Why hasn’t God given me a child?”

As a couple they, surely, prayed together in earnest.

I wonder how old she was when she finally resigned herself to her childless state. Did she hope against hope until menopause set in?

In their culture, a woman who could not bear children had to learn to bear the reproach, the stigma, of barrenness – the whispers, the rude and thoughtless comments, the bold accusations.

She had borne this for a lifetime, for now she was old.

What Elizabeth could not have known was that she had been set apart for a single – and immensely important – purpose. She was chosen to give birth to the forerunner of the Messiah. Her child would prepare the way for Jesus.

Her time was coming, but was not yet.

I suspect that Elizabeth went through a major identity crises. She and Zechariah probably visited many doctors and tried every ‘surefire’ remedy and method of the day.

They ‘fished’ all night…for many nights!…and ‘caught’ nothing. 😉

It wasn’t until Gabriel showed up on the right side of the altar of incense that everything changed.

And it was here that this story became a life-changer for me as well.

As I read the next bit, I was a little perplexed. Gabriel’s response to Zechariah’s question, “How do I know this is true?” seemed to be overkill on the part of the angel – kind of like, “What, Dude? Do you want a piece of me??”

Mary asked the same question – and got a very patient explanation.

Was it Zechariah’s words…or his attitude that caused the angel to render him speechless?

All his hoping, praying, and effort had come to naught.

Until now.

Now that he was old, no longer spry and energetic – now God would answer his long-forgotten prayers? Really?

Thanks a lot!

What should have been joyous news, perhaps instead opened an unsuspected wound in Zechariah’s heart. Down deep was a cauldron of bitterness, anger, and resentment.

Zechariah would have to work through these issues with God in silence. None of it would be voiced; would rob Elizabeth of the joy of her long-awaited answer to prayer.

His poisonous emotions would be resolved between the Lord and him alone.

*****

There is a lot of conjecture here, to be sure. None of this can be substantiated from Scripture. Of this I am aware. However, I’ve discovered that there may be a great deal of truth to what I sense went unspoken by the Lord. It bears great relevance to my own story.

You’ll have to come back tomorrow to hear the rest of the story! It’s pre-scheduled, so look for it!