I have been thinking about Zachariah, the dad of John the Baptist recently. The Bible tells us that he was in the privileged position to go and offer the incense for the prayers of the people to God.
It was a real and massive honour.
He is in the temple, possibly even the Holy of Holies, the place where the presence of God was meant to reside.
…and yet when he met an angel here he doubted Gods ability to do the miraculous, to see his elderly and infertile wife, Elizabeth, become pregnant.
As I thought about this story it made me ask some questions, firstly, how often do we pray, or do religious or spiritual things but faithlessly we have no expectation of meeting with God, of encountering him, of him answering our prayers and our deepest longings.
I wondered whether we do allow ourselves to be expectant, especially in areas which maybe have been incredibly painful, perhaps past pain and disappointments have stopped us praying and seeking God over some things?
Perhaps too we have downsized our expectations and reduced our expectancy from God?
One of the things I find interesting is Zachariah meets an angel, AN ANGEL, pretty big stuff, would blow your mind a bit meeting one, I think angels must be pretty scary as (apart from with Mary) the first thing they say is “do not be afraid” (with Mary it is the second thing they say!)…
So Angel turns up where Gods presence dwells and even so Zachariah’s mind won’t be changed.
What of us?
Do our minds get too fixed sometimes?
Do we believe that some problems are bigger than God?
-Something’s he just can’t shift?
-Some situations that can’t be changed?
Even though we encountered Gods power, might and capacity, are there some “no go” areas in our minds? Are their areas of stubbornness in our thinking?
As we think of the rigidity in Zachariah’s thinking lets contrast his response with that of an ordinary uneducated teenage girl some miles away, who was not in a religious building or engaged in some spiritual activity, no obvious reason why she should be expectant of God to work in her and through her… And yet she meets an Angel, and her response was a surrender, and openness to God however it looks and however unlikely it might seem.
The challenge is are we more like Zachariah, look religious but lack expectancy with rigid thinking, or perhaps like Mary, that bows and says to God “have your way Lord”