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What do you do with the chaos you created? Those things and moments where you are enveloped in the consequences or confusion that result from living below fully trusting, believing and following the will of God for your life.
For Zechariah, in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel, his consequences for failing to completely trust God’s Word and promise through the angelic messenger Gabriel concerning the conception and purpose of his son led to a period of solitude and silence (Luke 1:13-20). God literally closed his mouth and forced him to think about, in silence, what he had done.
Disbelief often leads to disability. Perhaps for you and I, this disability is not in the physical sense, but decreased ability to live in the freedom and fullness of God.
Yet, even with our consequences, as with Zechariah, God still gives His grace. For Zechariah, God does exactly what God’s messenger says He would do. God reverses the effects of old age and removes the reproach of Elizabeth, causing her and Zechariah to conceive a son (Luke 1:24).
Many months later, following this geriatric pregnancy concluded by a safe delivery, recorded in Luke 1:57-66, Zechariah and Elizabeth find themselves at their newborn’s circumcision celebration. And it is there where God gives Zechariah another chance, by His grace, to do God’s will.
From their story, you and I can learn this lesson: do not allow yesterday’s mistakes to keep you from following the will of God today. Instead, we should appreciate God’s mercy and grace by doing God’s will faithfully.
Even with past mistakes and present consequences, know that God gives us grace. And past mistakes and present consequences do not have to deter us from present and future obedience and trust in the plans and purpose of God. You and I should take advantage of God’s grace by doing God’s will.
Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, demonstrate this lesson as they name their son. They show us that doing God’s will requires renewed faithfulness.
Following Jewish custom, the official naming of their son comes on his eighth day of life, when he is circumcised. As relatives and neighbors continue to celebrate the birth of this baby boy and rejoice in the fact that God granted Elizabeth this precious gift, breaking barrenness in her old age, they are pressing on Elizabeth and Zechariah about his name. “His name is Zechariah, right? That’s what would normally happen.” But before they start calling “little Zech” or “Junior,” Elizabeth chimes in. Luke 1:60, “No; he shall be called John.”
Now, remember: Zechariah had the angelic visitation, not Elizabeth. But here, Elizabeth is the one first proclaiming that their baby’s name was John. Somewhere between Zechariah’s encounter with Gabriel and this celebration, Zechariah somehow communicated to his wife what occurred in the temple.
Now, think about how much effort this alone would have taken. Zechariah’s primary method of communication, talking, was gone. Later in this story, you can see that he also can’t hear. Yet, somewhere in all that, Zechariah tells Elizabeth that their son was to be named John.
In experiencing God’s grace, Zechariah and Elizabeth exhibit a renewed faithfulness to God despite Zechariah’s previous doubt. The fact that Elizabeth says, “his name is John,” shows their obedience to the Lord. And it shows a level of obedience that pushes through several obstacles and challenges. You and I must also exercise this level of renewed faithfulness.
Even though I didn’t believe and fully trust God in the past, as I think about the course of time, how the Lord worked things out, how He blessed me beyond myself and my shortcomings, how He lifted my burden, how He blessed me beyond my doubts, how He kept me through my chaotic-producing consequences, how He covered me in the middle of my circumstances, I must respond with renewed faithfulness to Him. And I should push through, doing whatever it takes to express this renewed faithfulness, not just for myself but with and for those around me.
My hope is that I am not the only one convinced of this, but that you are, too. When you consider the overwhelming gift of God’s grace, respond with a renewed faithfulness to trust Him.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.