Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."
We are living in the hot and humid dog days of July here in Georgia. In this heat and dampness, it is not unusual for us to experience thunderstorm pop-ups in the late afternoons. We are always grateful for the rain, but not so much for the tumultuous lightning with its notorious companion, thunder, that can wreak havoc on our power grid.
And this past Tuesday, it does just that!
Our computers and internet are knocked out of commission, but thankfully, for only five minutes. What a relief! But when my husband, Danny's, computer comes back to life, he makes a startling discovery. His keyboard is on the fritz!
He tries everything he knows to resuscitate it - changing USB outlets, rebooting the computer, trouble-shooting on line. Nada, zilch, zero. Danny is NOT a happy camper.
Until, that is, I remind him that he can use our Chrome Book for typing messages on email or Facebook. That is a helpful, temporary solution, but of course, Danny wastes no time in ordering a new keyboard for his computer.
But what if we hadn't had the Chrome Book as a backup? Danny would most certainly be at a loss for words. How frustrating that scenario would be, as dependent as we all are on our technological devices!
As maddening as this inconvenience seems, it doesn't hold a candle to the plight of Zechariah, when Gabriel informs him that he will be unable to speak until the birth of his son, John. How did Zechariah communicate? Did he sign what he wished to say? Were ink and parchment readily available? Did he scrawl messages in the dusty ground?
What did his wife, Elizabeth, make of this odd and unexpected turn of events? And if Zechariah managed to somehow tell her about what had transpired, did she believe him?
Just as God chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus' earthly parents, He chose Elizabeth and Zechariah to be John's. The Lord knew that all four would love their sons, training them up in the way they should go. But maybe, God knew that Zechariah required a bit more work in the humility department. Being a priest of high standing at the synagogue might have produced a bit more pride and, dare I say, arrogance in Zechariah than was good for him. Or, could it be he simply liked hearing himself talk?
All I know is that when we are silent, we are more likely to hear God's still, small voice. Perhaps, God thought that Zechariah needed to listen more closely to Him, and not to his own words in order to grow in his faith and trust.
In that case, being at a loss for words is a good thing.