Knowing Our Place in the World
The angel answered and said to him; I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. – Luke 1:19
I’ll set the scene if you are lost: Zachariah, John the Baptist’s Dad, has just heard his son is coming.
But Zachariah is old.
As in yearly prostate checks and prunes at every meal to stay, ‘regular’ old. So he can’t believe it. He loves his wife, and he knows she’s been barren. Knows in the way that they’d been to counseling, they’ve cried countless times, been mad at God and finally made peace with it, that kind of knowing.
So more than joy, it almost feels like an insult to him and an accosting of his wife’s emotions and her aging body. He loves her deeply and has held her while she just cries after having thrown a huge showers for so many other mommies. Who were having babies. But never Elizabeth.
And though I’m a guy and I’ll never know just what it feels like, I know there is a chemically intrinsic place in so many women to have children. To bear the burden of carrying a child inside them, then watch it grow. I have enough friends with kids to know this is a thing.
So while Zachariah is walking into the Holy of Holies, this angel appears to him and tells him he is going to be a Pappa. I can hear him say in his mind:
Don’t you say that to me- not about me, not about her! How many times have we wailed? How many times did we have people pray for us and pray ourselves for the answer to be a resounding, ‘NO.’ Not now. Not when we were finally ok.
The angel then gives a fantastic blessing to him, from God, and then Zachariah says, “Are you sure about all of this?”
Then Gabriel says the above to him. And that stuck out to me so intensely. His sheer level of confidence is astounding. If I might paraphrase:
“I am in his presence always, and he has this thing where his word can’t leave without coming back being fulfilled completely. Where I come from, ‘good enough’ here will never be good enough, only and only perfection. What’s more, He who is enthroned is intensely aware of you situation. He has cried with you, knowing that if he had told you the truth any sooner it wouldn’t mean as much as it does now. You are unbelievably, inconceivably, loved, Zachariah- and as a gift, I remove your speech, so that you can learn to rest in that reality. So that rather that try to explain all of this, and tell all your friends, you just watch Elizabeth’s tummy get bigger and love her, and be there for her. And rest without pithy apologies to him who is enthroned, but feel the magnificent weight of His love as you can, so much as you can, so that you may share it with your son. You are not forgotten. Your name is known- and known by whom it matters most, Zachariah.”
So was Zachariah simply silent in awe, or as a punishment? Or was it a gift? A way to experience the whole thing innocently, like a child for the first time?
And the growing question becomes, how much more does God love us even now? We are so deeply loved and cherished, and God sees it all- it’s not as if he turns his head, or is unable to see us. There is nowhere in existence where he is not.
From a friend, “I Am Convinced”
No angel, no devil, No army of rebels
No day that has injured, No time in the future
No life lived, no death blow, No distance is below
No height He can’t see you, No place He can’t reach you
And that’s absolutely true:
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 NASB)
I guess what I’m trying so hard to say in all of this is that we are foolish to think that we have God figured out. This week I was yelling at him, I was mad! I didn’t like what I had, and I felt like total garbage from my point of view.
But at any moment God may call us, bestow upon us, or ask us to wait. For we are seekers of his will, not fortune tellers.