Yesterday we asked "Do you have room?" Today we start our December reflections on those who had to decide if they would make room for Jesus. Subscribe to emails here so you don't miss a day.
Making room always comes with a cost. We have to lose something in order to gain. The often overlooked, elderly relative of Jesus, Zechariah, was no exception. He and his wife had reputations as godly people from priestly lines, & he had the high honor of being chosen by lot to travel to Jerusalem to serve in the the temple. He left his aging wife Elizabeth in the Judean hill country where they lived. The two shared more than divine focus in life, they shared a lifetime of begging God to remove what was a disgrace in those days - barrenness. They must've wondered if God ever heard their hoarse prayers. He did.
While Zechariah stood at the alter of incense, the angel Gabriel appeared to his right and let him know that "your prayer has been heard." You can read the whole story here in Luke 1. Gabriel revealed the name and unique calling of the child Elizabeth would carry once her husband came home. Zechariah couldn't believe it. He really could not, so the Angel did what was merciful and painful. He left Zechariah mute and deaf, but only until the baby was born.
Zechariah finished his service and then went home ... unable to share what his full heart had to tell. After all those years of praying, the highly respected priest went home without a voice to communicate to his Elizabeth, missing the pleasure of telling what he had longed for through the years. He gave up his honor, pleasure, and plans for what his answer to prayer would look like. Instead of a son to raise up in own priestly footsteps, Zechariah would raise a son with a singular purpose who would not fit in or have a family or aspire to what all Judean boys hoped for. Their prayer was answered, but it looked different than what they expected. To make room for Jesus and their part in His story, they had to let go of their expectations.
When the moment came for his aged wife to give birth, the mute man remembered the name Gabriel said the boy would be called. Instead of the cultural naming in honor of the father, Elizabeth told the stunned crowd that the child would be named John. When Zechariah obediently yielded their tradition, the people were amazed to know God was directing the deaf and mute man to choose the same name given by his wife. John. As they let go of lesser things ... earthly things ... they made room for God to work and welcome a son who would call the world to prepare the way of the Lord!
As a blessing for his obedience, Zechariah's communication was restored, and he burst out into a song of praise declaring his desire to serve God without fear, live in holiness, and have his son John prepare the way of the Lord. The elderly couple made room in their plans and lives for the coming Messiah. Under the nurturing of his godly parents, John "grew and became strong in spirit," ready to call the world to make room for Jesus!
~ What expectations do you have for answers to your prayers?
~ Could God want you to yield your plans to allow for His better, greater purpose in your life?