Luke 1: 57-66
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
When ever we are on a mission with God like Elizabeth and Zechariah were as they waited for the birth of John, we have to prepare.
No one plants seeds one day and expects a harvest in the morning. There are things to do. We are to cultivate our lives and rest in the fact that God has our future in his hands.
I remember the year I decided to grow Brussel sprouts. I did not know how long it took for them to grow. But I did like any other thing I would want to grow; I prepared the soil and planted the seeds and waited and waited and waited! I thought those Brussel sprouts would never grow, then a stalk starts coming up, and then finally after waiting a long time, the little sprouts starting growing on the stalk. Not without trouble, bugs tried to eat them, the weather tried to kill them, the preparation was more than I anticipated!
What I learned is that part of preparation is patience! It is not always doing!
During this time of waiting, God prepared my heart.
During this time of waiting God showed me just how little patience I had. During this time of waiting I sat with God in my garden, and He prepared my heart for Him. Sometimes it is when we stop and sit a while in the stillness and silence that God can prepare us!
While Elizabeth and Zechariah waited for the birth of John, God prepared their hearts. He silenced Zechariah and in the silence God prepared his heart. During this silence, he knew that his name would be John and what God would be doing in his life. God prepared them to raise him for the mission that God called him to do, prepare the way for the Lord. Zechariah developed patience and God showed him many things that he shared in a song:
67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
Every detail of the Christmas story tells us that Mary and Joseph endured more than their fair share of trials as they waited for the arrival of Jesus. During this time of preparation, God also prepared them for the arrival of His son.
This advent we prepare, by allowing God to Prepare Us!
Spend some time this week to eliminate any distractions, don’t allow the Christmas season to distract you from allowing God to prepare your heart. Be intentional about looking and watching for God in your daily life, and plan some time to be still and sit with God for a while. Allow God to prepare your heart for following Him. Mary and Joseph undertook an amazing mission on the way to Bethlehem. It certainly must have strengthened their bond as they conquered many obstacles and challenges. And this was just the beginning of their journey. It may very well be the beginning of yours….allow God to harvest your heart.