The Open Door of Hope
Like many of you, every December I find myself once again in the first chapters of the book of Luke longing to unearth a hidden treasure of revelation in the old Christmas Story. Just when I thought there were no gems left to find, the Holy Spirit once again did not disappoint-I hit “pay dirt”! As I write, my prayer is that what I discovered about the heart of God will catapult you into a new year filled with fresh hope and renewed focus-that your spiritual eyes will see and your heart will truly comprehend not only what God can do for you, but who He longs to be to you!
It all begins in Luke 1:5...
“Zacharias was serving as a priest in the temple in Jerusalem those days as his fathers had before him. He was a member of the priestly division of Abijah (a grandson of Aaron who innovated temple practices), and his wife, Elizabeth, was of the priestly lineage of Aaron, Moses’ brother. They were good and just people in God’s sight, walking with integrity in the Lord’s ways and laws. Yet they had this sadness. Due to Elizabeth’s infertility, they were childless.”
As always for me Jesus takes one word or simple phrase and begins to speak. Its that little word yet that got me thinking. We all have heard the story, how miraculously this old couple birthed the child that would one day become the prophetic forerunner of Immanuel, God with Us. God draped in the flesh of man to take away the sin of the world. But what strikes me here is their journey and how very much it resembles the the road to promise so many of us travel on. We all have a yet to our story.
Notice they were good and just people. They were strong and upright in both character and faith. They had a high level of respect and authority in the house of God yet their lives were overshadowed with this cloud of sadness that I am sure everyone around them endeavored to ignore simply because they didn’t have an answer to the “why” question. I think of how many truly wonderful people, good people I know in the church who have a promise yet unfulfilled.
I know there are many of you reading this that have experienced this reality of everything seemingly going well in your life but there is a “sadness” that haunts you, that promise in your life, that dream, that desire of your heart that overtime has remained unfulfilled. You soldier on, serve others with joy, even encourage others in their faith in Christ, yet there is this one thing you are waiting for. You have so much to be thankful for -all the good things God has given you yet there is that one thing.
Sometimes it is easy to over spiritualize our circumstances or ignore them completely. What moves me about how God encounters this couple is how greatly their sadness impacted His heart. The Lord could not ignore it and was moved to do something wonderful for them. He became to them the God of the Impossible Dream, their dream to experience the birth of a child, leave a legacy, and bear the marks of blessing on their lives. They were on His mind all along the way and He was planning a great big surprise!
Do not think for a moment your sadness or pain has gone unnoticed by God. Jesus reigns over sadness! We have heard the prophets say that 2014 is the year of the Open Door and its timely to note that it was just such an open door that launched this sweet old couple into a year beyond their wildest dreams.
One day Zacharias was chosen to perform his priestly duties in God’s presence, according to the temple’s normal schedule and routine. He had been selected from all the priests by the customary procedure of casting lots for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter the sacred precincts of the temple. There he burned sweet incense, while outside a large crowd of people prayed. Suddenly Zacharias realized he was not alone: a messenger of the Lord was there with him.
I love the “one day” and “suddenly” stories in the bible! Your Heavenly Father is FULL of surprises. Zechariah draws the lot to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to go through the door of God’s Presence, an opportunity we have every day! In his day the prophets heard the voice of the Lord while the priests just carried out their duties in the temple. God revealed himself in a totally unexpected manner and in that encounter he realized he was not alone! The angel of the Lord came to tell Zechariah what God had planned would bring him and his wife great joy and happiness(vs.14).
My intention here is not to tell you that by tomorrow morning your long awaited dream is going to come to pass, your new spouse will enter the room, your prodigal child will come running home, your boss is going to double your salary or your tumor will disappear. What I do want to tell you is that we can only expect God to do us good because He is good! How and when He does it is up to Him...He’s God! We do not know the why but we can know the heart of God. I have learned to always focus on what I do know. I know He is good and His plans for me are good! Its in that goodness I rest my hope.
I do not want to impart to you a “hyped up” hope but a real hope that can anchor your soul firmly in the promise you have been given. So, what gems have we unearthed?
Zechariah and Elizabeth did “soldier on”! Their subterranean sadness did not overshadow their daily living.They were faithful to God in word and deed in their journey. They were not known and respected for being sad and gloomy about what was missing in their lives but continued to minister to others with joy.
God knew their sadness over what was missing. They were not alone and either are you! Others may not have seen it, but He did!
Zechariah took hold of divine opportunity, a set appointment and walked through the Door of His Presence-it was what he lived for. That is what we should live for. It is in His Presence and through the words He speaks to us there that we gain wisdom, strength and encouragement in our waiting.
God wanted to be the one who got all the glory for the joy that baby would bring. His SUPER worked in their natural and their longing was fulfilled. More than giving them the blessing He wanted to be their BLESSER! (You know that feeling when you give someone something they REALLY like!)
It was a suddenly moment and a way that they NEVER expected.
What I want to say to you today is God is working something out for you...of this you can be sure. He’s cooking up something for you that is going to taste better than anything you could have cooked up for yourself! Take every opportunity to worship Him and revel in His goodness. The oil of gladness will overtake the sadness as you wait in faith. That perspective leaves the door wide open with possibility and hope of fulfillment.
Within the past few weeks a friend of mine experienced the ecstatic joy of a long awaited promise being fulfilled in his life. My heart was filled with such happiness that all the years of waiting, praying, and even some disappointments along the way became inconsequential. The greatness of God’s blessing had dwarfed his yet . It was the heart of God on display in His life for all the world to see. My dream this new year is to see that same joy of a fulfilled promise explode in the lives of the many modern day Zechariahs and Elizabeths all around me. This, too, I know...He answers prayer....my personal door of hope.