Elizabeth and Zechariah were both good people, ‘righteous in the sight of the Lord’. They were both desperate for, but past the window of opportunity; children. On the face of it, Elizabeth was ready, but Zechariah was not able to believe God’s answer to their prayers. For me, I can be either/or depending on the time of day. This year I’ve been on the emotional roller coaster of wanting to believe God’s answer, but doubting what it seems to be with both my daughter and daughter-in-law. I guess we all know the tensions between daring to believe and actually seeing, between wanting something so badly, but acknowledging it might not be God’s time, between seeing only the ‘problem’ and God’s bigger picture, between the neat side of the tapestry and the ‘mess’ God uses to weave beauty.
The thing about Elizabeth, which I think can be used as a helpful mirror to hold up for our relationship with God this Advent, is what she chooses to define her life. Before she becomes pregnant was ‘righteous in the sight of God’ (6) However, in the sight of others she was a ‘disgrace among the people’ (25). Pregnancy might have changed other people’s view of Elizabeth, but it did not change God’s view of her.
It’s easy to say we don’t care what other people think of us, but it’s not always so easy to practise. However, when we sense the affirmation of others it can be a tremendous boost and encouragement, which provides an incentive to live it out. Maybe we could all do ourselves a favour, this Advent, be living out (practising) the affirmation of the one, true, living God. He sees you as righteous, which means the love of God is focused upon you, whether you think you deserve that, or not. There is nothing we can do today to make God love us less, or more. However, there is something we can about the extent to which we encounter the grace of God and that is remove the barriers we put up.
What are the barriers you need to dismantle, to allow the love of God to penetrate the dark recesses of your heart? Maybe you’re not prepared to be used because you don’t believe can work through you?
- Accepting you’re forgiven by God, even if you’re struggling to forgive yourself?
- Looking at yourself through the righteousness of Jesus?
- Acting out the reality your shame has been taken away?
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for looking upon my life through the righteousness of Jesus. I offer to you those areas of my life where I struggle to accept your full and gracious offer of forgiveness. Help me to accept, not only the fact you have forgiven me (name it before God), but to now act as I am seen by you: forgiven, cleansed, accepted and free from the burden of sin. Amen.