Read the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s parents (Luke 1)
Elizabeth was a relative of Mary’s, but was many years older than her. She had never had a child, the greatest desire of her heart, in an age when there was a social stigma attached to infertility. We know that she and Zechariah had been praying for a child, but it appears that they had given up praying as they grew older.
How do we know they had prayed for a child?
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah he told him that his prayers had been heard. From Zechariah’s reaction of complete unbelief, we can assume that he’d long stopped praying for a child.
Do you have any long cherished dreams, prayers, or secret desires that you’ve long since given up asking God for? Be assured, dear friend, that not one of your prayers is unheard by God.
- God had His perfect time for Elizabeth’s child to be born to her in her old age.
- Elizabeth didn’t know that she had to wait for John’s conception and birth because the time of the Messiah had not yet arrived.
- John and Jesus had to be contemporaries.
- John’s great calling in life would be to prepare the way for the Messiah.
- He was the one who would later baptise Jesus.
- Elizabeth and Zechariah only asked for a son, but God gave them the greatest Old Testament man of all. Jesus said that there was none greater than John.
We never know what God is doing behind the scenes in our lives, and what life experiences He allows in our lives as preparation for the work He has called us to do.
Corrie ten Boom, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp under the Nazis during the Second World War said:
I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.
Moses thought he had failed dismally
A great example of someone who failed and thought that God was finished with him was Moses. At the age of 40, he killed an Egyptian and had to flee from Egypt into the desert. Moses must have thought that he had utterly failed God and ruined his life and calling. The years passed . . . 40 years in fact! Then one day, when he was tending his sheep in the desert, he heard God calling his name from a burning bush.
- his time had come and his greatest years were about to begin.
- God’s plans for him to rescue the Israelites had NEVER changed.
- unbeknown to Moses, God had been preparing him for his greatest roll of all, leading the Israelites through the very desert where he had been living for 40 years!
- and his first 40 years in Pharoah’s court in Egypt had equipped him with the finest education it was possible to get, in preparation for writing the first five books of the Bible, and leading the Israelites.
- the call on his life that he’d felt all those years ago, when he had mistakenly taken matters into his own hands and murdered an Egyptian, was still there, only now, he’d been refined and moulded by God over these many years.
Elizabeth thought she was a failure at the very thing that mattered most in life to her . . . having a child. She felt the reproach of others.
She was surprised by JOY!
- joy at discovering her pregnancy.
- joy at having her reproach taken away.
- joy at seeing Mary.
- joy at the birth of a son.
- and the passage speaks of the joy of the neighbours.
Don’t give up on your dreams.
Don’t stop asking God.
He won’t fail you!