Can you imagine being visited by angel? I mean, for real now. You’re at work, in Zechariah’s case your Altar duties, and you’re visited by an angel dude named Gabriel. What? He tells you that what is about to happen is going to blow your mind as well your wife’s. He promises that a child is coming. A child you have waiting for your entire life. A child you have cried yourself to sleep over. The dream of Fatherhood that you had to let go of when you reached a certain point in life understanding the medical ramifications of the years that have been slipping by. What? Now you say, ‘A child?’
But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. (Luke 1:14-15nlt)
You think about some seeds that have been planted in your heart. The ones that landed in the fertile soil of belief or in the hard cracked dirt of unbelief. Unbelief? Yes, maybe you have already been killed a thousand times by the nagging questions in your head that have left you with realistic or unrealistic assumptions. Well, at least to you. So, you stopped believing because…
- Things didn’t happen the way you thought they were going to…or maybe even what you prayed for.
- Things didn’t happen quickly enough.
- I don’t need faith when it comes to the basic things. So, we I stopped asking for it because I might as well take care of it myself.
So, when I find myself in a state of unbelief, God will ask me about my faith. I find I’m a lot like Zechariah and question so many things about the situation I’m believing for in faith.
Then I ask myself, What would this situation look like today to help my struggle with faith? And I soon find myself sitting with Elizabeth and Mary talking about Gabriel and faith.
Below is an excerpt from the book, The BC, that I wrote a few years ago for my daughter Azsia. She had been wondering what would Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah would be like if all of that happened today. I was challenged by her comments wondering how future generations would see the Christmas story. So, I set out not to re-write the Bible but to help lead my daughter to realizing what that could look like. In the excerpt that follows Zech, or Zechariah, has experienced a moment with Gabriel. Mary, now visiting Elizabeth, or Liz, are talking about the whole situation while getting their nails done…
“Jesus?” Liz repeated. “Jesus, Jesus,” she said back to herself over and over again. “What does that name mean again?”
“Gabriel said it meant ‘Savior.’ ‘God with us,’ or something like that.”
Liz sat, a bit stunned at Mary’s story. She thought about the detail in which her cousin shared. She thought about the mental anguish she must be under and wondered how someone could fabricate the truth with such believability. For a moment, but only for a moment, her mind asked itself the question she knew had been thought of, maybe even asked before…
Is my cousin losing it? Is she mentally sound? Could she be…crazy?
“So, what do you think?” Mary asked her. “I mean, really Liz. What do you really think?”
Calculated, Liz thought, she knew she needed to be calculated. Something had happened last night in her belly that was like nothing she had ever experienced before. It was, well, supernatural, she said inside her head. And, so could this be. “OK, I’m going to level with you. I’m a bit freaked right now.”
“Why?” Mary asked concerned.
“Because, Gabriel is the same name, and you have given me the same description of the angel or whatever you want to call him, that visited Zech before I got pregnant.”
“Visited? What do you mean?” Mary asked sitting up in the vinyl chair. “Now, I’m going to sound crazy,” she said to herself. “Mary, Zech said that he was up late working one night and heard someone on the front porch. He grabs his gun and goes out there and sitting on a chair is this guy. This guy says his name is…Gabriel.”
“Are you serious?” Mary asked.
“Yes, but I thought maybe it was a dream knowing how goofy Zech can be. He swore it was real and said that Gabriel told him I was going to have a baby. A baby boy named John.”
Mary stared off into the salon, her eyes unfocused as well as her mind.
“Zech said he didn’t believe it could happen, you know after all the testing and waiting we had been through. So, this guy, this Gabriel told him he wouldn’t talk until the baby was born,” Liz said, pausing to catch her breath. “He hasn’t said a word since. Six months of silence from a guy who has diarrhea of the mouth.”
“How did he tell you all of this?”
“Well, that’s a story in itself. Let’s just say a lot of time in front of the marker board,” Liz said rolling her eyes.
“Liz, he told you all of this on a marker board? Did you believe him?”
“That’s just it. I sent Zech to three doctors and all of them said the same thing – basically, nothing. Nothing is wrong with Zech. Nothing is wrong with his throat. No infection, no strep. No laryngitis. No cancer. Nothing. The only thing they recommended was a shrink. I didn’t want to do that because I had my own idea of what happened.”
“What do you think is wrong with him, then?” Mary asked genuinely.
“Honestly? I thought it was psycho somatic.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I figured it was all in Zech’s head.”
“Really?” Mary asked even doubting her own story for a moment.
“Yeah, because I figured this was Zech’s way of dealing with it, besides his quirky sense of humor. Like I said earlier today, Zech didn’t seem too upset about not having children but maybe it was bothering him more than he let me know. I just thought, hey, if this is the way Zech is going to deal with it then I just need to let him.”
Both Liz and Mary leaned back in their chairs from the tense, sitting up position they had been holding.
“So,” Mary finally said, “do we think this is the same Gabriel?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what to think. Something is happening here that is well beyond our control.”
“Supernatural,” Mary whispered.
“Yes, you could say that. I mean, this can’t be coincidental, right? Do three people see the same person in their dreams?”
“That’s just it, Liz. These aren’t dreams. They have happened in real time. Our reasoning just wants us to believe that.”
“God is doing something here that is requiring some huge vision. I just don’t know why on earth he picked me.”
“Me, too. I mean, it’s not like Zech and I are perfect or anything. We are just two people trying to follow God every day. And we are so far from being the best candidates.”
Mary reached over and took Liz’s right hand. “Liz, God chose us. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but he chose us. So, what do we do now?”
Liz shrugged then spoke. “I think we need to take this one day at a time. I’m not sure what the future will hold for both of us but for this time, however long you are here, I believe it’s for a purpose. Maybe some kind of preparation? In time, the truth will come out. If this child is really of God, only the days and hours will reveal that. That’s something my dad really believed in. If you can’t prove something in the immediate circumstance, then give it time. He used to say, 'let it bake, let it simmer.' It always seemed to work. So what do I think? I’m not sure, but one thing I can honestly say… You are one of the most genuine people I know and if you really believe this child is from God, if you really were visited by an angel named Gabriel, if you really are supposed to spend the rest of your life with Joseph…then time will bring all these things into focus.” It was then her eyes filled with tears. “I’m just so glad you are here to share this time in my life with me. I didn’t have anybody to share it with. Now I have you…” Liz trailed off noticing the nail techs were done. “I think our toenails are done,” she said sniffing and wiping away a few tears.
“You want flower?” one of the techs asked with a muffled expression through her mask.
Liz shook her head. “No thanks,” she said to them and then turned to her cousin. You ready?”
Mary took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I think, Liz. I think I’m ready…All we have to be willing to do is just is say ‘Yes’ to God. Just, say yes.”
Mark Rempel/Christ-Follower/Husband/Father/Friend/Writer/29:11 Team Player