I have a favorite book that I read every year in the last 2 weeks before Christmas. It’s called Christmas Hearts by Tim Roehl. “Images of Immanuel through the Eyes of Those Who Saw Him First”.
It tells twelve stories of the first Christmas, stories that maybe we don’t always think about, or just miss in our anxiousness to get to the “good stuff-the meat and potatoes of the nativity story”. I read one story every night. Yesterday, I read about Zechariah. If you’re a “church girl” like me ( I grew up in the church, and am now raising my own kids the same way), sometimes it’s easy to take the stories in the Bible for granted. I’ve heard them so many times, and could pretty much recite them all, so sometimes it becomes hard to remember that even in these well-loved stories that I’ve read so many times, there can still be something new to learn.
So that is the heart that I’m reading with this year–that there is something new to learn from these stories, and I’m praying that God will show me what it is that He wants me to learn.
Last night was Zechariah (I’m also reading this book to the boys this year. Travis was a bit squirmy, but Darian was listening intently and was full of questions during and after.)
I was reminded of three things while reading the story of Zechariah.
1. That God’s timing is always perfect. Zechariah was an old man when John the Baptist was born, so was his wife Elizabeth. (Not an old man, just old!) They had given up hope on ever having a baby. So when the angel came to tell Zechariah that he would have a son, he doubted and needed a sign. The sign, of course, was that he would not be able to speak until this prophesy was fulfilled. How easy it is to plan our own lives while forgetting that our timing is not God’s timing, and that His timing is best.
2. When Zechariah wrote down that he wanted to call his son John (remember, he still could not talk at this point), his family members objected. There was no one in their family with that name, shouldn’t they call the baby Zechariah? But he and Elizabeth stood firm and named their baby John, just as God had told them to. We live in a world where so many people do not believe and therefore do not understand the decisions that we make based on what God would have us to do. As Christians we meet a lot of opposition from those who are not raising their children in the same way that we are. We need to be God-pleasers and not man-pleasers. Sometimes others will not agree with us, but we need to stand firm and raise our kids (and make all our decisions) based on what God would want us to do. It may be hard sometimes but His way is always best!
3. Zechariah and Elizabeth knew that their son was going to be John the Baptist, that he would tell the world of the Messiah. And they raised him accordingly. We have no idea who our kids may grow up to be someday. We need to be raising them today so that they are ready to be whatever God has planned for them. Whether that be a world-known evangelist, who leads many to the Lord, or a milkman who has opportunities every day to tell his customers about God’s love. What we teach them today will impact who they are later. Huge responsibility, but thankfully, we’re not alone. We have God to lead us and to help us.
Tonight, I’ll be reading Mary’s story. Completely familiar, but I can’t wait to see what I can learn from it!