Did you know that God doesn’t need our faithfulness in order for Him to be faithful to us? Even when we are unfaithful to God, God remains faithful. We get to read about God’s faithfulness with Zachariah’s story in the Bible. Zachariah laughed in the face of God’s messenger when he heard that he would have a kid in his old age. But God didn’t move on. He still fulfilled His promise. Join Pastor Jeremy Jernigan this week as he continues our Crescendo series leading up to Christmas.
Find Christmas service times: www.centralaz.com/christmas
[00:00:00] Control. It is so great to be with you. My name is Jeremy. And for those of you in the room with me or those of you watching online or at one of the other campuses, so great to have you a part of this as well. Today, we are continuing the series we've been in called crescendo. As we let this story continue to build.
[00:00:15] And if you've got your Bibles, I encourage you to get those out. We're going to be in Luke chapter one. So if you want to get your spot there, that's what we're going to be in justice. Now, I don't know how you are with Christmas. I don't know if you love Christmas, you hate Christmas, but just as just, just curious show of hands, how many of you, you are deep into Christmas music.
[00:00:35] You are Christmas using people. How many of you been doing this since. Yeah, those are my people right there. I love it. I love Christmas music. It just helps me to get in the spirit, get the feelings. I love all about it. In fact, I've been working on my own playlist for the last seven years on Spotify. And then every year I find tune this thing, I add new albums.
[00:00:57] I removed songs that got a little old last year, you know, and I'm up to like 2000 plus songs now. So that's like the level of obsession I have. I love this, but I love there's so many. In these songs that caused me to reflect that caused me to think about things of Christmas that I'll be, you know, driving on the robot.
[00:01:15] Oh, that's, that's a really good thing. Like one of the songs is called. Do you hear. Right. And that's a great question. Christmas question, because there's so much noise right now. So many things going on and, and parties and things to do, and the to-do list is stacking up and all this, the busy-ness and we go, yeah.
[00:01:35] How do you know what to be listening for? Do you hear. And if you're like us, we have five kids at home. So then you add a ton of noise there. And before long, it can just be so noisy. So as we talk about silence and some of the series you might go, I don't even know what silence is anymore. I haven't had silence for so long.
[00:01:56] And if that's you, I have some good news today. That for about 20 bucks, about 20 bucks, you can buy your very own can of silence. Check this out. I kid you not as a real product that you can get 45 grams of pure silence. Doesn't that sound good? Like, ah, I need some of that. Some of your life does Costco sell it in bulk?
[00:02:19] You know, I need, I need like tons of this, right though. If you read the fine print on the website. Please note the cans are sealed and meant for sculptural purpose only. So if you open your can of silence, you lose the silence, which is kind of a sad reality there. But we're going to talk about what happens when we get used to the noise.
[00:02:39] And yet God is trying to say something God is trying to break through. That's what we're going to see today. As if you're with me in Luke chapter one, we're going to begin reading in verse five and here's what. This is one of those stories that you usually like skip over, or you like read quickly through to get to the good stuff, right?
[00:02:56] Like some other stuff happened and then where's Jesus. Like let's get to Jesus. And certainly this is a story with a crescendo, but let's not miss the power of the story that we're going to see today, because this is some good news for you. And I, as we find ourselves in this story as well. So in Luke chapter one, verse five, it says.
[00:03:17] When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah and his wife. Elizabeth was also from the priestly line of Aaron Zechariah, and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commands and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive and they were both very.
[00:03:43] One day Zechariah was serving God and the temple for his order was on duty that week. And as was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. When the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside. And what you may not realize at this time in Israel's history, that there was a lot of priests and only one temple, which means there wasn't enough work to go around.
[00:04:09] And so what they did is they decided to cast lots for who got the opportunity to do the really cool job. So offering insets was a big deal. If you were the priest that got chosen to offer incense, you got to go beyond all the other priests and you got to have this. Cool experience. It was such a significant experience that you could only do it once in your lifetime.
[00:04:31] So if you, as a priest were chosen, that was your shot. You did not get to do it again. And indeed many priests throughout their entire life, never got the chance to offer incense like this. Now Zechariah is old. So he has gone through many years, being a priest, never had the chance to do this. And so now it's his turn.
[00:04:51] He finally gets. Now it's not exaggerated to say this could have been one of the most significant days in Zechariah's whole life. I mean, this day above all other days could have been like a monumental day that he had been waiting for and envisioning for most of his life. Certainly for most of his. Now we know a little bit about him and his wife.
[00:05:14] He's a priest. He's married to a priest daughter. So both of them come from a profession of kind of devout followers of God. But then we also know the text says that they were righteous. So these are, these are model examples of what it looks like to follow God. Well, and you go, yeah, they're going to have everything figured out, except notice the one tension in the story that they had wanted to have children.
[00:05:42] So, so you have this, this couple held up and, and they want children, but they can't. And then we're told that they're very old. Why is it tell us the very old, because I don't think Zachariah and Elizabeth are waking up in the morning and going, Hey today. Well, we think how you feeling, right. You know, they're, they're not having that conversation.
[00:05:59] It's like, no, we're past that world. I'm old, you're all this ain't gonna happen for us. We tried it. Wasn't going to be. And so we know the very old, in fact, priests didn't even have a retirement age, so he could just keep going and going and going until he dies. And so we don't know how old they are, but we can kind of deduce.
[00:06:16] They probably didn't think that their story was going to change. Now I have to imagine there's gotta be some level of either. Frustration, perhaps maybe anger, bitterness or asked you God, why have we done all of this? And you haven't delivered for us that gotta be so easy for you to help us have a child.
[00:06:39] And then we can be a family. And why, why would you not help us do that? I got to imagine that's a question Zechariah has had to wrestle with with God over the years. God I've, I've given my life. Give him my career to you. I mean, I mean, we're all in on this. Why can we not be parents? And there's some frustration that they've had to deal with.
[00:07:00] So they've got this personal journey with God of, of waiting and longing, but then Israel as a nation is also going through it. We talked about this last week, the Israel's coming off of 400 years of silence. A number's a little hard to wrap your mind around. So think of it this way is the 16 to 20 generations of.
[00:07:21] That have lived and died and no great display or voice of God to write about. So in the Hebrew scriptures, you have all these things that God was doing, and then all of a sudden, nothing, but we don't have anything that, that is, is passed on anything that's recorded. Anything that was notable just this 400 years, which means like, you'd be like, Hey, I haven't heard God speak.
[00:07:42] And my dad has it. And my grandfather has it. And his dad has it. And you go back and back and back it back 16 to 20. These were people who knew how to wait, because that's all they had known for generation after generation. We are waiting for God to show up. Don't know if you will don't know if he's gone.
[00:08:01] Don't know if he left us for some better nation that he's going to be with, but, but we're hoping we're hoping to heal. Which begs the question, like how good are we really at waiting? How good are you and I at waiting, if you're curious on how good you are just stroll by the DMV for fun, you know, just see how your body reacts to that blood pressure, all that, you know, just, just for just fun, you know, have someone to.
[00:08:22] Make you wait or, or do anything with the child, right? Like this is parenting. Parenting is constantly waiting. I've got five. And I have learned the formula. You know, usually if you have two people on a project, it goes quicker. Except if one of those is your child, you go the other way. Right. It's going to take twice as long.
[00:08:40] And this is fine because I like spending time with my kids and it's meaningful, but you just learn, Hey, whatever we were trying to do is the efficiency levels. Uh, if I bring you into this. And so you just kind of factor that in now this happens in areas where I don't even expect it, where it kind of catches me off guard the other day I was going to go for a walk and I love just walking around our neighborhood, getting out the.
[00:09:03] Getting some time to think. And so I was going to go for a walk and our kids happened to be home. And so I asked our daughter, I said, Hey, you want to go for a walk with me? She was like, yeah, let's do it. And so I've got different walking speeds. I've got my normal walking speed. I've got my airport walking speed.
[00:09:17] And then I've got walking speed with the trial, which is somewhere way down here. And so I'm already slow. Leisurely walking this neighborhood. Okay. So we're not going far or in a walk on our neighborhood. We're having just a nice conversation and we're walking, I'm looking at the trees and the sky, just kind of taking it all and enjoying some time with my daughter.
[00:09:37] Well, as we were walking at one point, I hear her say, dad, we got to stop. I'm tired. Okay. That's fine. We'll stop. And so she, you know, she stops and I'm just kind of looking around and giving her a moment to catch her breath. She'll be fine. And then we'll keep. So at the time, I think, okay, that's been long enough.
[00:09:56] She's probably had her break. She's good. I mean, we're not bringing water. This is not like a hike we're going on. This is just in our neighborhood. And so I'm like, all right, she's probably good. I turned around to see, and this is what I find.
[00:10:10] This is my daughter fully sprawled out on the sidewalk. And I'm like, what are you, what are you doing? She's like, I'm exhausted. Like how, how, how can you be exhausted? We are leisurely walking around our neighborhood. I don't understand. And she's like, dad, I can't, I can't even get up right now. I can't even stand right now.
[00:10:28] I'm too tired. I need a break. So we just stood there for awhile while she had some time to recoup her strength. And then we went in and it's just like, this is what it's like, you know, to raise kids. Like you just have these moments of waiting. But the reality is we also have those. The those things that we're waiting for to get resolved, to get changed.
[00:10:49] And those things often come with pain. Those things often are associated with the hurt. And so maybe if you were to be honest, you go, yeah, I'm, I'm waiting for my marriage to be different because there's so much pain and I'm hoping someday it won't be like it is right now. I'm hoping someday that this can turn around.
[00:11:10] This could be better than. Maybe for you. It's just, I wish I was married. I hope someday I can find that person. I can, I can start that family and I can have that. Or maybe if you're honest for you, you wish you weren't married. And I would be so much easier if I didn't have this relationship. There's all sorts of things that we have.
[00:11:30] And again, I don't know what it is for you. It could be your job. I just can't. I can't imagine doing this, you know, 10 more years. I don't know why I'm doing it now. And maybe you got into it because the pay was good or you felt significant, but now it feels soulless. I don't know so many people just for loss.
[00:11:50] And now what, when is that going to change? When is that going to feel different? Maybe like sicker and Elizabeth. You want to have kids and you haven't been able to, it's a huge pain for a lot of people, or maybe you have kids. And one of those relationships has gone sour and you want that bullish healthy so badly, but you don't know how.
[00:12:11] Maybe for you, it's your health. I'm just dealing with that thing. And I don't want to deal with it anymore. I don't want to struggle with it anymore. It hurts and I have to wake up every day and I have to deal with this. Why, why can't that be gone? Why can't that be changed to in general get decided? I just wish things were different.
[00:12:30] I wish things could not be more of what they are. And for many people for harness, that's what we would say. Or perhaps I wish things didn't hurt. I wish this pain wasn't so vivid. It wasn't so real. Now these are the things we often don't tell people in conversation because we don't know how to resolve them.
[00:12:48] We don't know what to do with them and it gets uncomfortable. But maybe when you're alone, maybe when it's quiet, maybe when there's silence, these, these thoughts come back and you go, yeah. That's, that's something that I'm wondering about. I'm longing for resolution on that. When I was a pastor in Oregon, I remember one day the staff came into my office and they said the police.
[00:13:09] That's all I said. Okay. And so I go down and I talked to the police and I said, Hey, we need to show you something in the parking lot. So I walk out and there's this pickup truck there. And there was a truck I didn't recognize. And they explained to me that a man had come the previous night, parked his pickup truck there, got in the bed of the truck and ended up.
[00:13:29] I remember trying to process this going. I, I don't, I don't even have like a box to put this in. I don't, I don't know how to make sense of this. And so literally spent that morning just trying to work through that issue. And, and, and I remember at one point watching them clean blood off of the church parking lot, these are just this image that I just was wondering, what was this guy looking for?
[00:13:53] What was he longing for? What hurt was he dealing? Did he come there that day? Because he thought maybe in a church parking lot, he could hear from God. Did he think maybe that God would supernaturally do something? I just remember asking questions over and over. As I replay that incident, what was going on there?
[00:14:11] What was he looking for? There's this pain that I know I've done this long enough. We can cover it. We can mask it, but I know that it exists for most of us. There are pains that we live with there hurts that we live with. And when we're honest, we say, yeah, What's up. Why are you being silent on this? Why are you not fixing this?
[00:14:31] Why are you not making this? Right. And I think Zechariah and Elizabeth, they know that feeling. God, we've asked you for so many years, this will be so easy for you. Why wouldn't you just let us have a family until you just get used to it? They get used to the silence. Okay. I guess not. And Zechariah goes through the motions, but check out.
[00:14:50] When Zechariah was in the sanctuary it's now this is his moment to go beyond where the other priests are going. He gets to go in an angel of the Lord, appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Now stop here. I have to believe Zechariah gets in there. He sees this angel and I think this thought went through his mind.
[00:15:10] Does that angel appear to everybody in here? Right? Cause he's never been inside. This is the only time. And so he's probably wondering is this like the, like the big joke, like nobody tells you you're about to go meet an angel when you go inside. And so I imagine he walks in and he's going, why did nobody tell me about the angel?
[00:15:27] They tell him about the other stuff. They didn't tell me there was going to be an angel here. What's the deal with the angel Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, don't be afraid. Zechariah. God has heard your prayer, your wife, Elizabeth. We'll give you a son and you are to name him.
[00:15:47] John, you will have great joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth for, he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must, he must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the holy spirit even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord. Their God, he will be a man with a spirit and the power of a.
[00:16:12] He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly Zechariah. God is going to break the silence. Oh, and here's a fun fact. He's going to use you and your wife. That you and your wife are going to have a key role in what God is doing.
[00:16:36] And here's, what's wild Zechariah, check this out. You've been praying for a kid. God's going to give you a kid. And not only that, this kid is going to set up a big surprise that God's going to unveil on everybody. So you get not only your prayer answer, but like so much more than that, your kid is going to be incredibly.
[00:16:58] Now I imagine Zechariah is just trying to process this going, okay. Not only am I going to have a child, but my child is going to be like a pretty big deal. You know, like, wait, what? And it just, it's hard to even understand that the language that is used, the angel compares him to. Now, if you've ever read the old Testament, you know, Alijah is a big deal.
[00:17:18] Even if you haven't read the old Testament, you've probably heard the name of Elijah. Cause he's a major deal. He's a major prophet. And so they have not been prophets like Elijah for 400 years and Zechariah is going, wait, you mean there's going to be another Elijah and I'm going to be his dad. Like that is a lot to wrap your mind around.
[00:17:39] Like this is going to be. I was like, all right, it's a priest. Who's been doing this his whole life. You got to imagine there's some verses in the Hebrew scriptures, what we think of as the old Testament, right. Going through his mind at this point, going, wait a minute, I've read about this. I've heard about this way.
[00:17:56] I, I know this, this story sounds familiar. Like I wonder if he thought about Malakai. Look, I am sending my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant whom you look for. So eagerly is surely coming, says the Lord of heaven's armies.
[00:18:20] Oh yeah, God, God talked about this. God said that someone was going to come and now I'm going to raise that. I'm going to be as a dad that that's a lot to process and then he finds out, oh yeah, he'll have the holy spirit before. Now you and I look at it as a big deal. I have the holy spirit, like, what does that mean?
[00:18:38] Here's you have to understand you and I live on this side of the resurrection, this side of the day of Pentecost, where it was, the Hoser was readily made available to the church. That was not the case. During this time, the holy spirit was not really available. Like it is today in the way that we understand it.
[00:18:54] And so you have to realize when you read in the old Testament that someone had the holy. That was notable. And so you're not going to see that again until after the resurrection of Jesus, when the holy spirit is just kind of moving everywhere. But at this point he's going, who's going to be like Elijah.
[00:19:11] He's going to have the holy spirit before he's born. I mean, you can imagine Zechariah trying to process what on earth is this child going to be? I mean, this is incredible. Go to verse 18 out Zechariah's reaction to all of this news. The girl said the angel, how can I be sure this will happen. I'm an old man now.
[00:19:36] And my wife is also well along in years. That kills me. Oh yeah, that sounds cool. Um, yeah, I'm kinda old and like really old and like, I don't know if you see my wife. She's really old too. And I don't know. This is like, doesn't make sense. I don't think that this. I mean 30 seconds ago, Zechariah is terrified that there's an angel standing there and now he's like, no, don't agree with you.
[00:20:04] Don't believe you. I think this sounds too good to be true. I mean like the audacity, if you would ask me, Hey, who's going to be the best to respond to an angelic vision. My money's on Zechariah Zechariah. He's old. He's been a priest for a long time. This guy has seen some things. He will be ready. And he's not.
[00:20:23] And so he sees us and does not believe it. And then you get a love. I love the angels direction. Verse 19, then the angel said, I am Gabriel. I stand in the very presence of God. Now I imagined like Gabriel got a little salty here. It's kind of the way I hear it. You know, like a skew. Zachariah, excuse me. Do you know who I am?
[00:20:45] And if you don't know, Gabriel is one of three archangels in scripture. I mean, he's a big deal angel, but he is a claiming of that. Notice his claim to fame. You want to know who you're talking to. I stand in the presence of God. Like I was face to face. In fact, he says it was he God who sent me to bring you this.
[00:21:07] You think I just made it up that you think I just decided this will be fun. I'm bringing this message to you directly from the face of God. But now, since you didn't believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is. Now here's the question that I have. This is just my question.
[00:21:28] Did Gabriel come up with this idea or did God, right. Cause I kinda love imagining it was Gabriel. Like God's like, wait, what, what did he just say? Like, Gabriel's like, oh, you're not gonna listen. Check out what I can do like nine months, year ago. Okay. That's just, that's just me working through it for my words.
[00:21:45] We'll certainly be fulfilled at the. Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. This is great. They're outside. I think he died. Yeah. I think he did the first series done. Oh, there's no way to go. It doesn't take that long. It does not take that long to do this.
[00:22:05] He's gotta be dead. Did you hear screen? I didn't hear screens, but I mean, he he's gotta be dead. I mean, they're outside literally plotting, like what happened to him? It does not take this long. Why is he still in there? Nothing good can come of this. Like Zechariah. They probably were like, he had some sin.
[00:22:20] He had something going on to me while they were waiting. When he finally did come out, he couldn't speak. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary. I love this story so much. Look, Zechariah is so bad at charades that all they can deduce from his story is he must have seen something.
[00:22:46] What I mean, Zechariah, you gotta do about like, I mean, like something like work this story out a little bit. They got nothing. They're like, I'm picking up that he seen something in there. Yeah, for sure. He has seen something in the sanctuary when Zechariah is week of service and the temple was over. He returned.
[00:23:07] As soon afterward his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. How kind the Lord is she exclaimed? He has taken away my disgrace of having no children. I just love this story so much. What happens when you live in silence? What happens when you live without a regular sense of the voice of God?
[00:23:34] The answer is you get. You adjust that becomes your new normal. And so Zacharias has gotten used to it. He's adjusted. And when he finally hears God speak, when he finally hears what God is doing, he can't even keep up with it. He can't even wrap his mind around it. And so I run an ironic twist. Zechariah is now going to be silent for nine months after God has been silent for 400.
[00:24:00] Zachariah is going to go to a little calm down spot and have some time to think about, you know, what he had just done another, I was thinking about this. It makes me wonder this. Could our silence help us make sense of God's silence? Like could there be something here, like maybe this wasn't a punitive punishment for Zechariah.
[00:24:20] Maybe God truly is like, Hey, you're having a hard time keeping up with what I'm doing. It's a lot. So I'm going to have you just. For nine months to process it, to absorb it, to take in, rather than you having to constantly communicate. You're just, you're just gonna have a season just to absorb. I mean, I'll be honest.
[00:24:39] I can't help, but think that God could solve quite a few problems today. If you would just pick a few certain people and make them silent for nine months, anybody with me, right? Like, I can think of a few names. Maybe you can as well, like God, just that person make them silent. I'm not asking you forever.
[00:24:56] Just nine months. Right. Nine months. And men, a lot of our problems could be solved the same technique, but evidently it's not a thing that. All too often, but in this case, Zechariah is silent for eight months now, what do we do? Usually when God is silent in our lives, we usually get louder. Like, okay, God, you're going to be silent.
[00:25:16] I'm going to get louder. I will fill this void with my voice. And so we do that. But again, I wonder if there's something here, like, like what if instead of whenever we're fired up, we're mad, we're angry instead of going to social media to blast about some event or blast about some. What have we, like we're silent for a little bit and prayed about it first.
[00:25:36] I know we're thought like, what if we just said, Hey, before I go and speak all this, I want to listen to God's voice and just kind of make sure I'm not off on this. And then after then also post it. If I still feel it, I got to think a lot of what I see posted up going. You're not sitting in that very long.
[00:25:54] You're not sitting at silence. You're not listening much in that posture. What if we just attempted it? So the reality is we've got expectations each of us do. And if our expectations aren't met, we react to it. If we have an expectation and it's anything below it, we give this negative reaction and we just kind of do it without realizing it.
[00:26:14] There's actually some part of this. That is a part of the Christmas experience, right. Of expecting certain things than trying to. In fact as adults, I'm convinced we spend most of our adult lives trying to recapture some of the feelings we had of Christmas as a kid. So we listened to the same music. We go and play those movies that we used to like, right.
[00:26:33] We're trying to get back to what we know exists. And even in the way we give gifts, we can often play with this. Like, for example, I'm gonna show you a present and I want you to guess what's inside the present. Okay. So we'll see how good your expectations are. Number one, what's inside of this.
[00:26:52] And yes, this is a working Canon present, but it's just wrapping a golf umbrella. The whole gift is for a golf umbrella. Although I suspect I wouldn't want to actually get the golf umbrella. I would want to keep that because that is a work of art, but all of that was to disguise a golf umbrella. Okay. How about this one?
[00:27:10] What is this?
[00:27:14] You're all. You're all afraid. I'm not guessing anymore. Obviously those are tree trimmers. I don't know how you don't see it. Those are tree tremors. Now. I hope that's not given to a trial because that is a cruel joke if you gave that to a kid, but because it's tree termers, I'm also going to hope you didn't give a kid tree trimmers, but you know, teach their own.
[00:27:32] Uh, I have, uh, one more, we'll give you a chance. What is this? A present? It's a necklace. How do you not see that? I mean, of course all these. Well, the reason why these are fun, it's because they're messing with someone's expectation and here's the deal. If you set expectation and you go below it, that's where we have a negative reaction.
[00:27:51] I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed. I'm sad. But what happens when you exceed an expectation? What happens when you get used to this? And then all of a sudden, this shows up and you go, whoa, I didn't even think that could happen because that's what happened. With God, a jump down to verse 57. I want to show you kind of the tail end of this, part of the story after all of this, what what's the fruit of all of this conversation?
[00:28:18] Verse 57 says when it was time for Elizabeth's baby to be born, she gave birth to a son and when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her. Everyone rejoiced with her when the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision. They wanted to name him Zechariah after his father.
[00:28:38] But Elizabeth said, no, his name is John. What they exclaim? There's no one in all of your family by. So they use gestures to ask the baby's father what he wanted to name him, which is fascinating because the indicates that not only was John silent, he was deaf as well for nine months that he couldn't hear them.
[00:28:59] So they're gesturing to him in order to communicate to him. He motioned for a writing tablet and to everyone's surprise, he wrote his name is John instantly. Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising. All fell upon the whole neighborhood and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean Hills.
[00:29:22] Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, what will this child turn out to be for the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way. This is the story of God fulfilling God's promises. And it really all stories are, are that story. And yet we don't often have the perspective.
[00:29:43] We don't necessarily see all the. And in this one, we get a glimpse of what God is up to. And this is building this idea of, of what you thought. And it's actually far better than that. And I love what was said last week that God's silence is not the same as God's absence. Right. They have concluded God's gone and now they go, oh no, he wasn't gone.
[00:30:06] He wasn't God, he was just being quiet. He was setting up this. And there's also a huge takeaway. And, and maybe this is for you today, if you just need a word of encouragement. But one of the things we see from this story is that God's commitment to us. Doesn't depend on our faith, right? Like God doesn't look as Zechariah and goes that cried because you didn't believe me.
[00:30:26] I'm going to go to some other parents who are asking for a trial and they're going to get the race. John, you blew it. You had one shot, you blew it. You didn't trust me. No God's commitment to Zechariah is not. And Zechariah's faith or lack thereof. And maybe today, that's the message you need to hear that God's commitment to you is not dependent on your faith.
[00:30:47] God is far better than we can ever imagine. He exceeds our expectation. And so it takes nine months, but Zechariah finally catches up. He finally figures out what God is doing. And yet the reality is I think we can relate with Zechariah because I think for some of us, maybe God has been communicating something.
[00:31:08] And your response has been very similar to that cry going? I don't think so. God, I don't think this can change. I don't think my story can change. I don't think my reality can change and God's going to know it can change. It can be different. And maybe just having a really hard time believing that and like Zechariah going.
[00:31:23] I just don't see it so we can start to hold on to the silence because the silence feels comfortable. And I think if you've been used to silence long enough, Ah, I know this I'm familiar with this. Well, here's what I wrote down. Sometimes we choose the familiar pain instead of an unknown change. Hey, this hurts, but I know this hurt.
[00:31:48] I know this pain. So I'd rather stick with this than some unknown thing that God might want to do that I don't know where that's going to go. And so I don't want to take that risk. I don't, I don't know how that will play out. So I'll just hold onto this pain. Maybe today you're choosing to hold onto that.
[00:32:03] Even though God said, Hey, I wanna, I want to do something to that. I want to move you forward with that. So my question for each of us is which longing are you living with? What does that long and what does that ache inside of you that you're living with it, you hope God would show up. God would do something.
[00:32:22] What have you started with the premise that God is with you now that God is in your midst? And then you ask, what would it look like? For God to show up what it looked like for God to meet you there. I love the question that they ask of John at the end of this passage, what will this child turn out to be?
[00:32:43] Right? We've seen some things, some weird things happening with this kid. What will this child turn out to be? They don't know the answer to that. We're not going to find that out till later that's the crescendo of the story, but they know something's up. What will that child turn out to be? I want you to personalize that question.
[00:33:00] What will your. Turn out to be, what would God do in your story? God's, God's at work, God's doing something something's off. What will we do with your experiences and, and your pain and your, your journey, your joys, and the way that you're wired, what, what's the guy going to do all with all of that? What will your story throughout to be part of the reason we w we don't, you know, really lean into this.
[00:33:24] We downplay it as, because we just kind of assumed this is who I am. This is how I'll always be. I'll never change. I'm just going to be this person. And we don't realize how much we have the capacity to grow, to be different, to, to keep adapting the things that have happened to us in life or things that we're learning.
[00:33:41] Right. And I've seen this in my own life, in a. One example was earlier this year, we had to lay down our dog, put our dog to sleep, and she was 17 years old. She'd lived a long life and we had her before we had kids. And so this was kind of like Michelle and I's dog. And we'd been through so much of the thought, but she stopped eating.
[00:34:02] She couldn't walk up the stairs anymore and just normal movements of very painful to her. And so we realized, Hey, it's time. And I remember as we processed all this about, you know, when we got this dog, we had no kids, she was our focus. And then after that we added five kids and they had to become the focus.
[00:34:18] And so I never considered myself really a dog person. Right. Cause like I have a dog, I love our dog, but I'm raising kids and like that's a full-time job. So I'm like, The kids. And so I told Michelle said, Hey, you know, after this, let's take a break and let's just maybe wait until the kids are grown.
[00:34:34] They're out of the house. Then we get another dog. Then it could be our dog again, and we'll have the time and the attention for that until it makes sense. And so we go through the process of putting our dog to sleep. And I'll just be honest with you. It wrecked me. I mean, it messed me up profoundly and I was not anticipating that.
[00:34:51] And so I was a little bit surprised by all of the emotions that I felt. And I know many of you have had this similar. But as I'm processing all of that, it's like something inside of me shifted, like it was, it was different. It was, it was not the same. I didn't feel the same way anymore after that. As I remember a few days after that just kind of processing.
[00:35:11] And I realized I was far more attached to our dog than I even realized I had far more connection and, and losing her and having the sense of all that and go through that experience a really had a profound experience on me, pounds shaping on me. And so it was not too long after that, that I started kind of like floating the idea.
[00:35:30] What if we got dog sooner, you know, like, I don't know, like maybe not wait until the kids are out of the house. I got, I don't know. What would that look like? It was kind of casually threw it out there. Like, I don't need a dog, but you know, if we want it to, and, and literally my wife was so realized she's like this dog has done something to you.
[00:35:47] Like you, you are not the same person. I did not expect this. And so we kept that conversation going and we ended up doing something I would never in a million years have even told you I was capable of, we got. Okay. I've never had a puppy in my life. I'm not a puppy person. I'm not a dog person. Right. But we go and we get this little puppy and I am just like smitten with this dog.
[00:36:10] Our kids are, it's just an incredible addition on my, I am so glad we did it in a way. I love this dog. And then we thought, what's the logical thing you do after you get a puppy, you adopt an older sibling. That's a two year old dog that needs a home. And so I want to show you a photo of both of the dogs that we.
[00:36:28] But I am not a dog person. Okay. That's what I need you to understand. And here's what my friends keep telling me, like Jeremy, at what point will you just embrace it? Like at what point will you just acknowledge, like, you love dogs, like this is you now. And here's a, it's funny, it's like a weird shift because in my mind, for so many years, that's like, no, I'm not that person.
[00:36:47] And yet I realized like I don't have to keep being the person I was, I can keep growing and keep. And that's how life works. And this is profoundly how God works, that God will show up and God will change us. And God will use experiences in ways that we can't even anticipate. And we don't have to be the same person we were, and we can experience new things in the future that we didn't even think were possible in the past.
[00:37:11] And so when you begin to see God like this, you begin to ask God, what do you want to do in. Got, what do you want to do in my family with, with the, our desire to have kids or our strange relationship with our kids, God, what do you want to do in my career? Go, what do you want to do with my body? I mean, these are asking different questions.
[00:37:30] When you really think of a God showing up, what will this story turn out to be? And when you remember that God's commitment to you is not dependent on your faith. You start to set your expectations. Oh, God, you are so good. I have no idea what you're going to do next, but I want to say yes to it. I want it to be a part of the journey that you have for me.
[00:37:54] And so I want to close with this image, just quote from Austin, Channing brown. She writes this instead of waiting for the bright Funshine I have learned to rest in the shadow of hope. May we rest in the shadow of hope as we listen for the voice? Let's pray together. Jesus, thank you that you speak. Thank you that you're not silent.
[00:38:23] And most of all, thank you that you're not absent, even when it's hard for us to perceive it. Or even when we are not aware of what you're doing. May we be reminded that you're with us, that you're present. You're you're committed to us even when we don't. Even when we don't believe it, even when it sounds too good to be true.
[00:38:45] And so for all the hurts and pains represented here today, I pray that we would be reminded of your goodness in the midst of it. And that we would start to, to ask the same question, what will this turn out to be? What will this story turn out to be when we submit our lives to an amazing God who has what's best for.
[00:39:07] Maybe we experienced that we pray in Jesus' name and all God's people said, amen.