Monday, December 1, 2014

Then an Angel of the Lord Appeared! Do You Trust or Doubt?

Then an angel of the Lord appeared! Do you trust or doubt? That seems like a silly trick question, right? You think, "No brainer! If that were to happen to me then I'd most definetly trust, no doubt!" But, in the same chapter of Luke, Luke Chapter 1, there are two juxtaposing reactions from two different people when an angel appeared to them. Both messages from the Lord were blessings but there were some definite challenges from a human standpoint...

Christmas time for me is all because of one main story, the story of Jesus and his virgin birth. We have all heard it from the time we can remember; Gabriel, an angel of the Lord visited Mary and brought her the news that she is going to have a baby! “He will be great and will be called the Song of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:26-38) Can you even imagine?! For me just to see a plus sign on a pregnancy test would have me jumping for joy! (You? Maybe not! Ha!) Here an angel of the Lord is telling you you’re pregnant and your son is going to be the Son of the Most High. God! But, there were some parts of that story that could cause Mary some worry. She wasn’t married. Her fiancĂ© Joseph could literally have had her stoned to death according to custom and laws when they were living. How would her friends and family react? How would the people of her town react? But, what was documented wasn’t her worries and doubt. Mary said, “How will this be…since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Her first response wasn’t to spout off any one of those countless reasons why this simply wouldn’t work. Her reaction was, “How?” It wasn’t, “Impossible!”

In the same chapter of Luke, just a few verses before Gabriel appeared to Mary in Luke 1:5-25, scripture tells us a story of an angel of the Lord visiting the priest Zechariah. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were old and childless. The angel told Zechariah, “Your prayers have been answered and you are going to have a baby! A son! He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born and will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.” (Luke 1:12-16) Zechariah's immediate response was one of doubt. He questioned the angel that was sent by God and said, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” (Luke 1:18) He showed doubt and disbelief from the moment he heard the news. Because of this Zechariah became mute until after his son was born. Now there! That’s a time-out from God if I ever saw one! Since you didn’t believe and the only thing that came from your mouth was doubt, I’ll just quiet you down. Literally! 

Whenever I read the story of Zechariah I laugh because I think, “Hello, dude!!! An angel of the Lord is before you! What else do you need?!” But, in my own life I’ve done the same thing! I’ve never been visited by an angel of the Lord but I have had prayer after prayer answered and opportunities opened up to me yet I still doubt. Recently, I prayed for a new job, a pretty specific job, teaching, and quickly I had an interview lined up and then the job offer came. And, this was my reaction: “Well, okay. I prayed for a new job, in a pretty specific field, and now I have the job offer but how can I be sure this is it? Give me another sign, God.” How silly I was! My head was in all the wrong places. I was worried about money, about what my family would think and about my family. In the end none of that mattered. And through trusting him with our every need he has blessed me in more ways than I can count. 

We will probably never personally have an angel of the Lord visit us but there are two reactions we can have to God’s nudges and direction for our lives: We can have that of Mary’s, “How is this going to happen? I am the Lord’s servant and you’re your word be fulfilled!” Or, that of Zechariah’s, “How can I be sure of this?” The difference is trust and trust equals obedience; when we don't trust, we are being disobedient. God wants to use you in wonderful ways. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if doesn’t seem possible, everything is possible with God. Is my reaction going to be that of Zechariahs? Am I going to say, “How can I be sure of this? I’m too old…too young, too poor, too sick, too tired, too shy, too whatever!”

God wants to bless us but too often we get in the way of those blessings. We side-step them and they pass us by. The challenge to myself is to stand firm in what I know is from God. No wavering, no other question but, “How? God, show me what to do and where to go. Lead my steps. I’m your servant and your will be done.” I want my life to be intentionally faithful so His will is always done.  

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