What I read: Luke 1
Observations: I thought it was interesting, and slightly confusing, that both Zechariah and Mary respond to their visit from an angel in almost the exact same fashion, and yet the angel responds to them very differently. Both of them have been promised something that seems impossible at the time – Zechariah and his wife will become pregnant in their old age, Mary will become pregnant without having sex with a man. In verse 18, Zechariah says, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” The angel responds to his apparent lack of faith by telling him he will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. In verse 34 Mary says, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel’s response to her is quite different. He explains what will happen and, in possibly the most compelling line in the passage reminds her (verse 37) that “nothing will be impossible with God.” So my question is what’s the difference between the two?
Application: In verse 45 Elizabeth says that Mary is and will be blessed because she “believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” In connection with verse 37’s promise that nothing is impossible with God, this was a reminder to me today to not give up on some of the things that I’ve felt strongly were placed in my heart through conversation with God. In particular I was thinking about my Bible study group of athletes over at URI this morning and realizing that some of the key people who were part of helping me connect there have now moved on, and how it’s gotten a little more difficult to feel like I’m making a difference there. But then I remembered how strongly I felt about this group being a connection that God had given to me, and it was like I felt God speaking to me that there’s no way I should give up that easily on something I believed just a few months ago was absolutely placed there by God. So my application today is to keep believing that what started there is going to come to its fulfillment, and to keep working towards that goal.
Prayer: God, today I’m grateful for the reminder that in everything you are the initiator of a great movement to rescue people back to yourself. You spoke to Zechariah and Mary and to both of them you pointed their hearts back to the past, to the way you had worked through Abraham, and his descendants and how, even in their time and their moment you were STILL working to accomplish your redemptive purpose in the world. And today I’m considering that you are STILL at work doing the same thing in my world, in my generation, in my era of history. You’re still seeking to claim a people for yourself who would trust you with their lives, and you’re still looking for men and women to cooperate with you in that endeavor. So today I recommit myself to being a faithful and trusting participant in that work. I recognize it’s not always going to be easy, or always look particularly possible. I’m going to trust you anyway. I understand that I won’t always feel like you’re right there with me in the midst of it, I’m going to choose to trust you anyway. And particularly with this group of student athletes over at URI I’m going to believe that you will rescue a people for yourself – that you will even bring about the kind of life-changing, momentum-shifting movement that could not just change a few people, but could impact the direction of a whole generation of kids there. I’m in with you on that, and whatever you can do through me, whatever I can possibly contribute to that – you have it.