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Advent – Learning to Prep for the Promise – Part 3

But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Luke 1:7

Luke gets highly personal in the story. Barrenness physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually was as painful back then as it is now for those who desire to have children but have been unable to.  

Let me say this clearly and upfront if this has been your journey: 1) “God loves you and has made you whole and valued!” 2) The spoken, unspoken, and unconscious pain that comes with this aspect of your journey is not overlooked or unheard, and 3) Not all children have to be biological to be your heirs in the Kingdom! God loves the orphan and the barren, and in his grace, both can find love in each other. 

Art by Merrill Miller

We can quickly be distracted by the promises of God when trauma, pain, doubt, disappointment, worry, fear, and anxiety enter. Barrenness can be felt like an emotional 400-year silence! It can break our prep! But beloved, He has not forgotten His oath to you. And what may never be birthed through you might be the powerful gift of what is birthed in you. 

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

Luke 1:13

John Yohanan means “God has been gracious” or “God has shown favor.” The logic of the name is clear: a prayer had just been offered for grace or favor, and that prayer was heard. A son would be born and named John, “God has been gracious.”

Are you ready to put a name on your promise? 

But remember, before you get to name, you must come to the Holy Prep.

Where have you been called to be present with His Presence so you might prep for His promise?

Z (Zechariah) is on the inside with His worship. Preparing to enter the Holy of Holies. Once in a lifetime moment trained for all his life. The honor of offering incense was the grandest event in all his earthly existence. Many priests never had the privilege, and no priest was allowed to offer it more than once. Z’s adrenaline began to flow, and with it came the alert attention that notes every detail. 

Where do you need to spend time prepping for the promise in your heart?

And isn’t it interesting that Z may have been in a sanctuary, yet scripture does not tell us where E was? I can imagine she was home in the marketplace or the court of women. She was living her life as a sacred moment. And I mention this only because what we may call a holy space becomes sacred if our hearts are willing to seek the sacrificed one. And I am not convinced it is only found in hallow halls but most certainly in holy prepped hearts. 

Where are your sacred places and people to help you in the prep?

11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified, and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.

Luke 1:11-13

Prep for the promise is to recognize the promise is bigger than your request!

Your prayer has been heard; what prayer was heard? We assume it is in response to the second part of the sentence, the prayer of having a child. Yes and no.

If Z were a righteous and blameless guy trained all his life to be in the temple, his prayer would not be about him; it would be for the nation, Israel. He would go in, offer incense, and plead for the mercy of God over the people, interceding not for himself but for a whole people. 

And God responds through his messenger Gabriel, Z your prayer has been heard.

Both spoken and unspoken requests.

What? God, actually, is concerned over nations and over my circumstances simultaneously!

Maybe the promises of God upon your life are more significant than the ones you are speaking and asking for! But know this, beloved: God sees and listens to your heart’s requests.

When you are prepped, come expectant that God’s response to your prayers are often bigger than your requests!

What is your big prayer that you desire to see God add to?

24 After those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months, she remained in seclusion. She said, 25, “This is what the Lord had done for me in this time when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

– Luke 1:24-25
Photo by Alex Schute

The dictionary defines endurance as (noun) the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.

The Biblical definition is hypomonḗ: hypo (preposition – to be positioned under something higher, under the power of an event or cause); monḗ or meno – to remain, abide.

So, when you put the word together, endurance means to remain under something (someone) powerful enough to help you remain steadfast, patient, and persevering. Or, literally, endurance means “to abide under power while staying under pressure.”

Not a weak word but a word submitted and surrendered to the power of Christ within us to steadfastly and patiently get through and get over a complex process. Christ’s calling to us in John 15 is to remain so that fruit will be produced abundantly. 

Alan Redpath, British Evangelist and pastor/author, said, There is nothing–no circumstance, no trouble, no testing–that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of who my Lord is–that is the rest (or peace) of victory!

To be prepped is to be ready. And to be ready is to remain; God will bring promises to those He trusts can steward them and wait for them.

I believe Z and E were these kinds of stewards who were ready because they remained people who remembered.

(See ‘Advent – Learning to Prep for the Promise – Part 4’ )

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