Caught unaware

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”

The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.” ~(CEB)

“Zechariah was a deeply religious man, a man full of years and full of experience. He was a leader in the religious life of his community, and he was filled with a question that would not go away. Even an angelic visit did not calm his fears or answer his questions. ‘How can I know that God’s promises is true for me?’

It is easy for us to make light of Zechariah’s struggle, thinking it would be different for us. If an angel visited us, we would believe. If we have received such a direct promise from God, we would trust and rejoice. But the truth is we have received a much greater and more direct promise. We have the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus to confirm the promise of God’s love and provision.  We have the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to assure us the companionship of God and the power of God in everyday life. We have two thousand years of experience to remind us and assure us that God can be trusted and that God will provide. But the questions are not easily put to test. What if I am wrong and five my life to the focus of my wishful thinking and not to the living God? What if I am listening to my own desire and not the voice of God as I seek direction for my life? What if God leads me astray and into a life that is too much for me?

Zechariah is not the only one who hears the nagging questions. We hear them too. How will I know God is guiding me? How will I know God will provide for me? How will I know that God will forgive me? How will I know God loves me as an individual? How will I know? How will I know God? These are the nagging questions that lurk close in many of our lives, and to deny them is to give them power they do not have. To face the questions honestly and directly is to see them for what they are- a response of fear to our lack of faith. So what shall we do? Continue our life as Zechariah did- praying, serving, listening. And as we continue our disciplined listening for the voice of God, we will be called to remember that God does care for us and provide for us in wonderful ways, even when we are unaware of that provision.

After living with the questions, the apostle Paul said, ‘I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels . . . , nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,’ (Rom. 8:38-39). The assurance that we are enfolded in the loving arms of God can still the nagging questions and grant us the grace, peace, and serenity to live all of life fully and faithfully every day. Grant us this blessed assurance today and always.” ~Rueben P. Job

O God our Father, who didst send forth Your Son to be King of kings and Prince of Peace: Grant that all the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdom of Christ, and learn of him the way of peace. Send forth among all people the spirit of good will and reconciliation. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. ~Adapted from The Book of Worship

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