They were upright, faithful to God, year-by-year, decade-by-decade, walking a straight path with their eyes toward heaven.
But the line was going to end there. They were old, and while their peers already had children and (perhaps) grandchildren, they were childless. Barren.
For Zacharias and Elizabeth, it was an unavoidable stigma, an emptiness. A barren womb was seen as a curse, a disgrace. Their neighbors, however, had quivers full – lively sons and daughters – and they would leave their fingerprints on new generations. Yet the couple persisted on, faithful to God, though facing the additional obscurity of having no heirs to carry on their name.
They would soon be consigned to the forgetful dustbin of history.
Then, late in the game, when the time was right (surely WE wouldn’t choose timing like this!), God appeared to this faithful pair – over whom He had watched these many years, with the late-blooming surprise waiting in the wings – and announced that they would have a son. Not just any child. This would be the forerunner to the Messiah. A man whose name would echo throughout countless ages to come. John, the preacher, who would turn the hearts of Israel back to God.
And so it happened, as we can read in the Gospel of Luke, chapter one. And once again, God manifests His power in such a way that there can be no question about who is in charge. This miracle birth, to an aged and infertile couple, was a prelude to another miracle birth, to a young couple who had not yet “known” each other.
It is good to reflect, when many laps have already been run, when the clock is ticking down late in the game, that God is not done yet. He is not limited by our perceptions of the ideal time. There are some plants that He designs to bloom early, and some to bloom late.
Some renewals occur when all external hope has long flagged away.
Some will leave this life with dozens of offspring, some will leave with just one.
Because when God brings forth fruit through the weak, the humble, the late, the nobodies, He receives all the glory. That one goal, late in the final period, may bring about the gold medal.
So – don’t quit. Believe. Wait. Look up.