Thursday, July 23, 2020

At a Loss for Words




Luke 1:18-20
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.

Amen!

32 comments:

  1. I feel sorry for Zechariah because, ir we are honest, there is a bit of Zechariah in all of us. Who can really claim that they have never had a moment of doubt? Or even longer than a moment? There are times, perhaps when our prayers are not answered as quickly as we would like, when we too have doubts? Sometimes our own doubts, sometimes placed there by the devil to lead us astray.

    Imagine if we were all punished by God every time we had some doubt about His love and caring for us.

    God bless, Martha.

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    1. I'd have to agree, Victor, that we all have a bit of Zechariah in us. Doubts are natural in humans. In light of that, Zechariah's "punishment" may at first to appear a bit over the top. But I believe in my heart that whatever he learned during this imposed silence deepened his faith and trust in the Lord, and prepared him for the importance of John's birth.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Wow, I am glad that it was just his keyboard and not the whole computer! But yes, I know how frustrating it can be to have any part of our computer systems go down even for a minute. That being said, I am thinking that I spend way too much time here in front of my computer. I love communicating with my friends here, but I wonder how much more I could be doing if this wasn't taking so much of my time? Well, not sure I want to figure that out, but I am thinking about cutting back on the time spent on Facebook in particular. That has become a very unpleasant place lately and I need to focus more on life here in the present/presence of the Lord and my family around me. Not going to give up my blog, however. You dear friends are very special to me. Have a blessed day and stay away from those lightning strikes!!

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    1. I'm not on Facebook much anymore, Pamela, except for posting my blog, and reading those of others. I try to stay with and on the Christian blogging sites. None of us need to get mired by the negativity that is out there so much these days. And with this pandemic, online communications are pretty much all we have.
      Yes, we are so grateful that nothing else "died" during the power loss, and Danny's new keyboard has already arrived! Talk about fast! So he's back up and running.
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Zechariah reminds me of me at times. Fear taking over with questions that reveal unbelief. This seems to reveal that God knows best what we need, even if it means shutting things down in our life temporarily. When I look back I am now grateful that some prayers were not answered the way I wanted them to be. Things needed working out in my life. I love what you said about being silent so we can better hear Him. Wish I had that advice years ago. May the good Lord deal with us as needed as He has our best interests in mind. Great post!

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    1. Valerie, I'm with you here. When I reflect on the things I hoped and prayed for in the past that didn't come to be, I realize that God was making the right call in my life. He does know best what we need and when we need it. And we certainly can't hear Him if we're the ones making all the noise!
      Love and blessings!

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  4. What a great point Victor's made! Not easy to admit, but ya. As often as I've given thanks for 'unanswered prayers' you think I'd have learned my lesson and stopped playing a back-seat driver.
    I certainly enjoyed your analogy. Yep, we're experiencing some of the same thunderstorms; they seem more fearsome this year.

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    1. I sure loved Victor's point, too, Mevely. We all may tell Jesus to take the wheel, but too often, we become those backseat drivers. Glad you liked the analogy, my friend. And those storms? I could certainly live without those!
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Yes! Amen, Martha Jane! I seem to recall in one of the movies I've seen, seeing a tablet hung around Zachariah's neck that he used to communicate with those around him. Could have been.

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    1. Oh, wow, Terri, thanks for sharing this insight from the movie you watched. Perhaps, that's exactly how Zechariah communicated. Thanks for stopping by!
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Martha, this is an interesting post: we've become so use to tech than when it doesn't work we get in a bit of a tizzy. :)

    Zachariah is an interesting person in the gospel narratives. What I see when I read about him questioning the angel Gabriel is a doubting--a doubting that someone with his status shouldn't have. Meanwhile, Mary is living life simply and openly asked Gabriel about his message. Her question was much more reasonable than Zachariah's.

    God meets us where we are and a simple faith is really the best. Going from head faith to heart faith is amazing and changes everything!

    Love and blessings!

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    1. Yes, Kim, going from head faith to heart faith does change everything. I love your analysis of the difference between the state/status of Zechariah and Mary. That truly sheds some light on this passage of scripture.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. Wonderful reminder, Martha. I must admit, I like to hear myself talk too much sometimes too. I have sworn off FB and Twitter (for now) for just that reason. Humility is my word for the year and I am often reminded just how far I have to go and just how much I have to learn.

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    1. Isn't it amazing how the word we choose in a given year will find ways to jump up and "bite" us when God thinks we need some reminding? Like you, Laurie, I spend as little time on Facebook as I can manage, and I disabled my Twitter account a long time ago. It really helps to redirect me to what is truly important.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. Absolutely Ms. Martha. Sorry Mr. Danny's keyboard suffered a failure, but glad you were able to capture and communicate these thoughts. It is when I am in silent, prayerful meditation that I can hear God the loudest. Thank you for the gentle reminder my friend, that even in the midst of a storm, we must listen.

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    1. We must always listen, J. D., and be willing to do so to God's words directed to our hearts. Even in these times of isolation, we can still manufacture reasons for not simply being still and practice silence before the Lord. It is our saving grace, and may more of us realize the necessity of this in our lives.
      Love and blessings!

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  9. I appreciated Kim Jolly's response in reference to head faith vs heart faith. All the men and women referred to in Hebrews 11 are examples of phenomenal faith - yet each of them doubted. Why were they examples of faith then? Because they never doubted in their hearts. As I was reading your post that was the first thing I thought of because I have often been asked the same thing. Why didn't I ever question God with all the trauma I had to go through? Why was I sure I would have a baby when I was told I had 2 years to live and would never get pregnant? Because I believed it in my heart and never let go.I never doubted and 14 years later I was pregnant - and ALIVE.

    Years ago,a power outage blew my computer and I lost years of files and work even though I had a surge protector. Then I invested in an APC surge protector and battery backup. If your power goes out, the battery kicks in and you have 30 minutes to finalize anything on your computer you were working on and close everything down properly. It gives incredible protection.

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    1. Thank you, Carol, for giving us some practical advice to deal with such occurrences in the future. It's really so rare to have our power go out here where we live, that those precautions had not been taken.
      I so appreciated Kim's response, too. As Christians, we will have our doubts and our struggles, but when we remember the Father's promise, those doubts melt away. I'm so well aware of your tumultuous and trying journey, and am inspired by your enduring trust in and love for God. He has rewarded you in ways that many of us will never encounter, but I hope my readers will order your book, Battered Hope, on Amazon. It's such an inspiring read!https://www.amazon.com/Battered-Hope-Carol-Graham/dp/1939748062/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Battered+Hope&qid=1595640346&s=books&sr=1-1
      Love and blessings!

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  10. great insight to a well known story. I never thought about how he did communicate and what Sarah thought about this whole deal. YOu give me lots of ponder tongiht.

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    1. I'm so gratified that I gave you some thoughts to ponder, Jean, as that is something you always do for me. I am humbled!
      Love and blessings!

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  11. You made some great points, Martha. I used to wonder why, when it was time to name John, that the people had to make signs to him. Then one day I decided to look up the word mute in the Strong's concordance and discovered it means deaf/mute. So he couldn't hear either. That would make things even more difficult.

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    1. Oh, if he couldn't hear, that would make it that much more difficult for him to communicate, Diane. Thanks for sharing that information here.
      Love and blessings!

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  12. Too bad I'm not at a loss for words when I get upset or things don't quite go my way. Good reminder Martha. Words should be lost sometimes.

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    1. Yes, Bill, sometimes silence is what's necessary so we can really hear God speaking to us. Too often I react just as you do when the apple cart gets upset. We are definitely works in progress!
      Love and blessings!

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  13. What wonderful spiritual applications you have made here, Martha Jane, to the disruption of your Internet service, etc.

    As Believers, we know for a fact that the hardships of 2020 are not a waste in God's economy. He's got purposes at work in each of us. Troubling as it all feels, it does calm me to know our Lord will never forsake us and has our best interests at heart.

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    1. Yes, this year so far has certainly been a tough one, Barbara, but it is my firm belief that God has lessons in it all for each of us. We know He cares enough to number the hairs on our head, so we can trust He is large and in charge!
      Love and blessings!

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  14. I find myself often retreating into spaces of silence more and more these days with the sole purpose of hearing the voice of God. He is so faithful to speak to us, if only we will be still and get quiet and listen!

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    1. Amen, Cheryl! God is quick to speak when we are quick to listen.
      Love and blessings!

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  15. I am very verbal about everything; I analyze everything to death, but I never really thought about the hardships of Zechariah losing his ability to speak. Imagine how frustrating it would be to have something to pass on and not be able to do so because God had taken your voice away. I would most likely be scribbling on everything in sight. Hm, I like this post, Martha. The take away on this to me is to pay closer attention to God’s commands for our lives. Thanks and blessings.

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    1. I'm so glad this post spoke to you in a meaningful way, Nells. Yes, I'm pretty verbal, too, so something like what happened to Zechariah would be difficult for me, too. But there is always a reason for God acting in the ways He does, and we must acknowledge that in our lives as best we can.
      Love and blessings!

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  16. I love the connection you make between how dependent we are on our devices and Zechariah. I can't imagine how awe felt, not being able to speak when he had such news to share! Sometimes it does pay to be silent and just listen to God. Thanks, Martha.

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    1. I know Zechariah must have found it so difficult not to be able to verbally share the good news about John's impending birth, Lisa. Silence before God, though, does have its merits.
      Love and blessings!

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