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Posts Tagged ‘Zacharias’

Can You Spare Me a Sign?

I was reading with the family this week the ancient story of Gideon, one of the “judges” God raised up to lead Israel out of the oppressive grip of its conquering neighbors.

Long story short, Gideon was a hesitant soul. God told him what He wanted him to do, and promised to provide deliverance, and Gideon kept asking for miraculous signs to confirm that God really meant it.

Instead of frying him to a cinder for his unbelief, God (who had chosen Gideon with full awareness of his weakness) condescended to accommodate his wavering faith, and actually provided multiple confirmations of His power to help embolden Gideon and give him the confidence to go forward.

Then, this morning, the story of Zacharias in the New Testament book of Luke. An old man, he and his wife had been unable to bear children. One day, as a priest serving before God, an angel appeared and told him that they would experience a miraculous conception and birth, and the child would be the forerunner to the Messiah.

Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain?” And he was struck with muteness (until the birth of his son John) for his unbelief.

Each story has elements of both awe and amusement. But the takeaway, for me, was two-fold:

– God comes alongside us perfectly aware of all of our weaknesses, and has realistic expectations accordingly.

– God treats people differently for good and wise reasons that we may not be able to fathom.

Why was Gideon able to seek a sign (twice!) with a fleece, hesitating at the threshold of God’s promises, while Zacharias asked a pretty reasonable question about how such a thing could happen for a semi-geriatric couple? Multiple explanations could be advanced, but the comforting truth is: God puts up with our flaws and sins and weaknesses, and works with us right in the midst of them all.

That’s a good thing. I have a long and entangled relationship with doubt and hesitancy. It’s comforting to know that, like Gideon, I might still be used by God to accomplish something despite the messy condition of my soul…

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