If there’s anything that causes wonder, it’s the birth of a newborn baby. I was there for the birth of both of my children and it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I think that’s why birth announcements are so special.
Luke 1 is the Birth Announcement chapter. Normally, when a couple is pregnant, they get the honors of breaking the news to their friends and loved ones. In this chapter, the Angel Gabriel visits two people and gives them a reverse birth announcement – Surprise – you’re going to have a baby!
The first birth announcement was given to Zacharias. He and his wife Elizabeth had prayed for years and years, but never had children. The second birth announcement was given to Mary. She was a virgin, engaged to be married to Joseph. A new-born baby was not on the radar of either of these individuals.
When given the birth announcements, Zacharias and Mary both asked a question.
And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” (Luke 2:18)
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 2:34)
- Zacharias had a skeptical wonder. Mary had a faith-filled wonder.
- Zacharias wanted proof. Mary wanted to know about the process.
- Zacharias was wondering in doubt – “Prove it.” Mary was wondering in faith – “How are you going to do this?”
The first kind of wonder causes your heart to shut down. The second kind of wonder causes your heart to open up.
Mary’s question invited revelation. God loves it when we ask questions rooted in faith and trust. Questions are an important part of discovery, and an important part of the relational process of getting to know someone. God is not afraid of our questions. It’s His joy to show us His ways and His glory.
Zacharias’ question reflected a certain heart condition. Have you ever hoped for something, expected something, or wanted something for a long time, only to be disappointed over and over again. That was the case for Zacharias. He was afraid to hope again, because he was afraid to get let down again.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”(Proverbs 13:12)
Zacharias was an amazing man. He loved God and was walking in His ways. Yet, he was wrestling with years of history. Zacharias wasn’t an unbelieving person. Rather, his doubt was a symptom of something else. When God spoke about a son, it pressed a trigger in Zach’s heart that was connected to years of disappointment. He had to choose to step out of disappointment and into the fresh word from the Lord.
Zachariah asked for sign, and wow, he really got one! He would not be able to speak until his son John was born. As much as this sign seems like punishment, it was actually a gift. Every time he would try and speak over the next 10 months, he’d be reminded that God had already spoken. His heart and mind would go through a renewal process. The next time words came out of his mouth they were words of praise and prophesy. Zacharias became the first person to prophesy in scripture since the prophet Malachi 400 years earlier!
Do you have heart condition? Do you have a trigger? The lesson from Zacharias is to surrender our conditioned responses to God and embrace His goodness and promises.
Instead of wondering in doubt, follow Mary’s example and begin to wonder in faith. Your wonder will open your heart and invite Him into your situation in a fresh way.