Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Three Takes on Elizabeth

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age. She who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God  (Luke 1:36-37).

When Gabriel came to the virgin Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Jesus she was stunned. "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" she asked (v. 34). Gabriel gave Mary a brief explanation of what was to happen, then followed up with the example of Elizabeth. Although there may be many more, here are three different ways we can read this.

1. "If a dried up prune like old Elizabeth is going to have a baby, certainly for you to have a baby, even though you are a virgin, is not an impossibility. God can do anything!"

2. "She who was said to be barren..." This is about timing. People called her barren because they saw no fruit from her, but God didn't see her as barren. She really wasn't; it was just a matter of God's timing. When he was ready for her to have a child, she would.

3. "She who was said to be barren..." This is a matter of perspective. We judge by what we see, and what we see is such a limited picture. How easy it is for us to make assumptions and pass judgment. We put people in boxes and say they are _____________ (whatever). By all appearances, they are that. People saw Elizabeth as barren because she was old and had never had a child. Isn't that the definition of barren, after all? But God didn't see her as barren! He saw her as upright and blameless (Luke 1:6). He saw her as an instrument of His grace, ready for whatever he had for her. Even in her barren years, she was fully accepted by God.

How can we persist in calling it as we see it when that's not how God sees it?

Lord, forgive us for our need to hold people to the way we see them. Open our eyes to see as you see, each person loved by you. Help us not to make assumptions or judgments based on our limited view. We do not know your mind or your purposes in our own lives, much less in the lives of others. Might we remember that you know people's hearts and minds, their past, their future, and their current circumstances. And you will use whoever you want in whatever way you want, whenever you want. You might even use us. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God!

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