Who knows how long it took for Zechariah’s name to be drawn in the Priest on Duty lottery? I’ve seen some research that suggests this might have been the only time Zechariah ever got to personally go into the Holy Place and perform the sacred rituals to lead God’s people in prayer.
And then an angel shows up. His prayers have been heard? Now, after all this time? When the answer has been delayed so long it seems impossible?
Zechariah’s fear turns to skepticism; fancy angel appearances notwithstanding, how can I be sure?
Do you know what it’s like to pray for years with no response, no change, no visible difference, and the answer seems delayed to the point of impossibility?
Do you know what it’s like for fear to turn even the clearest moment of grace into a moment of skepticism or doubt? Have you been a Zechariah?
God doesn’t give up on people easily, even when those darling, beloved people are kind of skeptical. God still fulfills his promise. God still takes away Elizabeth’s disgrace. God still sends his messenger John to prepare the way.
And you and I can join good old Zechariah in speechless wonder and thankful ineptitude, as God’s perfect plan graciously unfolds.
Luke 1:18-25 (NIV)
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
I come to you today, Jesus, with open heart and open hands. You know my strengths and my weaknesses; you know me inside and out.
I can’t, I don’t want to, hide anything from you.
Lord, where you see weakness or doubt, sin or fear,
please send your Spirit to make me more like you.
Bear with my questions, Jesus;
I want to know you better, and it isn’t easy.
Put up with me a little longer, and invite me
into a closer relationship with you;
give me trust even as I question. Amen.