You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” – Luke 1:14–17
How lucky is it to be Zechariah and Elizabeth? I mean think about it: they have angel of the Lord appear to them, tell them they are going to be parents to a son named John, and then they are given a glimpse as to how their child will grow up…“he will be great in the sight of the Lord”…“before he is even born he will be filled with the Holy Spirit”…“he will turn many people to God”…“he will make ready a people prepared for the Lord”. (Luke 1:14-17) This is just to name a few.
My wife and I have been trying to start a family for the past few years, and decided a year ago to start the process of adoption. After a year into the process, we have been paired with a birth mother, and are going to be the parents of a baby boy in late January. We couldn’t be happier!
Like most parents (and parents-to-be) we have hopes and dreams for our child. We have fears for our newborn. We will worry about and be responsible for his health while he grows up. We will watch our child thrive and succeed at times, and utterly fail at others. All the while, we will anxiously and actively wait to see how his life turns out. Our hands that will soon hold a newborn baby, will have to hold him openly to whatever the Lord wants for him.
Imagine how much easier it would be for parents to deal with the everyday situations and issues they have with their child if they knew how the child would turn out…
“John is staying out late with his friends in the village. I feel like he could choose better friends, but hey, the good news is, we know that he will turn many people to God. So maybe God is using these guys as practice?”
“I just can’t get John to clean his room, but at least he will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
“John is really struggling to find friends at the village school, but I’m not too worried because he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”
“Sometimes it feels as if John is just trying to be a ‘rebellious teenager.’ Whether this is just a phase or not, at least I am confident that he is filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Whether or not we know ahead of time how our kids are going to turn out, or even how we are going to turn out, there is a common characteristic needed in all situations: TRUST. Zechariah and Elizabeth had to trust God at His Word. They had to trust the word of the angel was true, even when it didn’t seem like it could be possible. Even though they had assurance, they had to move forward in trust.
This Advent, where do you need to trust God?
What promises has He given you in the past that now seem like distant and unattainable memories? What are some things you hoped for but He never promised you, and now you are not sure what to do or what the next step will be? Who or what is God asking you to trust him with? That relationship. That break up. That work situation. That career. That house. That car. That gadget. That salary (or lack thereof). That (fill in the blank).
May this season in which we celebrate the greatest birth story ever told in the person of Jesus Christ, birth something “new” in your life. May you trust in God in both the promises He has given you, and the ones He hasn’t. And may you hold your life openly to whatever the Lord wants to do with it.
– R.O. Smith