Umm who here doesn’t love receiving a beautifully wrapped box at Christmas? I certainly do! Actually any time of the year is fine, I’m not fussy—wrap up a bar of chocolate and I’m in my element. I enjoy gifts—both the giving and the receiving. The best: when you surprise someone with a gift and they love it. The worst: when you surprise someone and they are mortified…
Remember the prequel to the Christmas story when the old priest Zechariah discovers he is going to father John the Baptist? We tend to gloss over it, but oh my, this was quite the miracle and therefore the surprise of all surprises. But he was somewhat mortified.
You see, Zechariah and Elizabeth were this adorable (in my mind) older couple, thoroughly devoted to God. Poor Elizabeth was barren—devastating enough to any woman, but in this culture it was downright shameful and implied lack of faith. Many, many tough years for this godly woman. And so by the time they were in the elderly/ seniors/ “well stricken in years” category, the thought of diapers and midnight feeds were way, way in the distant past. Any fiery hope had most likely dwindled to a pathetic flicker.
Yet who are we to put God in a box?
Zechariah was having his “mega priest day”; a once–in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter the temple and burn incense for the waiting throng of people outside. It was truly special and no doubt he expected it to be a precious time with the Lord—what he didn’t expect was coming face-to-face with the angel Gabriel. “Do not be afraid…” Well okay then, but I’m sure the priest’s ancient heart pitter-pattered. And if that wasn’t enough, he was told that he and Elizabeth would have a baby. Surprise!
His prayer had been answered—and in a far more spectacular way than he could have ever imagined! But… rather than basking in the glorious news and celebrating all the fantastic details the angel shared about his son preparing the way for the Lord, Zechariah questioned it and pointed out their old age. Can you hear the deflating balloon? He messed up. Royally.
What about when WE encounter the wonder and power of the Lord, and then fail to embrace the fullness of it? Half of me wants to slap the dear old priest on the forehead and say “Duh?” but the other half identifies completely.
How often do we limit the God of the universe?
I know I do. I forget whom it is I am praying to, and I fail to ask the unimaginable. God is limitless. If He wants to send down an angel with a fabulous message quashing biological norms, then He can. And He did. Again and again.
I admit; I put God in a box. Even at Christmas. With a great big bow on top.
Do you dare to ask for the unimaginable this Christmas? That individual’s salvation you have pretty much given up on? That place you feel drawn to yet can’t imagine mustering up the courage or the funds to consider it seriously? Healing from the illness drowning that family in tears? Think bigger. Think God-sized. Think outside the box.
Zechariah had a “Hello” moment with the angel Gabriel and was promptly yet lovingly rebuked for not trusting God without question. In fact, he was rendered mute from that very second and for the duration of the pregnancy right up until baby John’s birth, giving him plenty of time to listen to the voice of God—without answering back, doubting, or questioning His Creator.
Sometimes I think a little forced quiet time, a little white space, is exactly what we need in order to hear God and grow our faith.
Especially at Christmastime.
Christmas is such a beautiful miracle in itself, isn’t it? The virgin birth, the star, the multitude of angels, the incarnation of God in the form of a baby. All that glory contained in skin.
Let’s not even attempt to contain God’s glory in our boxes.
Wishing you a joy-filled, peaceful Christmas, dear friend!
Linking up with some fabulous encouragers! Check them out: