As the third week of Advent gets underway, listening to the prayer of the day put so many thoughts in my head, I jumped out of bed to try to empty it, lest it be another sleepless night. The reading comes from Luke 1:5-25. Normally the readings aren’t this long but I appreciated the singular reading, as they usually read it again and offer different points of reflection. Tonight, as I listened, I was immediately struck by one particular thing, Gabriel, the angel who appeared to Zachariah told him because he doubted, he was struck mute/dumb until fulfilled in time. Now let that sink in. He was struck mute/dumb because he doubted. He did not believe what the Angel said would come to pass because he and his wife were of advanced years. The power of doubt. It gave me great pause because I have doubts, about quite a few things, sometimes that includes G-d. It gave me great pause because maybe the people we encounter are sent to bring good news to us, after all, the power of G-d most often manifest itself through the actions and words of others, so why is it so difficult for us to believe?
It’s so ironic the things we will and won’t believe. We believe the meterologist when they attempt to predict the weather. We believe people when they say they will do something or show up somewhere. We believe people when they say “I love you”. Zachariah was, at least he is characterized as, a G-d fearing man. Did he lose hope after so many years of not having his desire come to pass? Seems that way. Can you imagine being struck mute because you doubted something someone told you, only to have it come to pass later? Truth be told, I’m not all that convinced he doubted but maybe he was curious as to how. But, I guess that’s the same thing huh.
When a person gets hired, they are told when they will be paid. I’ve never heard of anyone asking “How will I know?” Because the person may reply “It will show up in your account or in a live check” that’s how. Maybe Zachariah had doubts because there was n0 precedent, nothing to show that what was being told to him had ever happened before. He, like most of us, wanted proof. He, like some of us, could not, did not want to take Gabriel at his word. Why do you think that is? His age? His wife’s age? The fact that they’d been “trying” for years with no results. There was nothing to suggest that a baby was in the cards for them. I know a few couples who’ve gone through IVF and other measures to have a baby and had no luck and when they stopped “trying” along came baby.
That one passage in this scripture has left me convicted because there are times when my doubts get the better of me. I don’t mean for them to but human have a way of bringing out the cynic in you. Our past and current actions tend to dictate future belief or doubt. The proof is there, we must decide whether or not to believe what comes out of the mouth. This passage saddened me and inspired me. It made me reflect on my own doubts and beliefs and questions why I doubted what I did. Where does my trust lie: in myself, in man, in G-d? This is always hard to answer because if the Spirit of the Living G-d is housed within us, then if a person says something rather profound to you/about you, why shouldn’t you, wouldn’t you believe it? I’m not saying take all the negative things people say and accept and receive them, that’s nuts. But if someone speaks positivity and it happens to be something that you’ve been secretly or openly desiring, why not believe it? It’s human nature to wonder how but instead of asking How, ask When! Little children rarely ask how, when told to expect something. When conveys that you are ready and expecting it to happen. How conveys you’re not really sure and want to know more details. I’ve been working on removing How and replacing it with When. If I can expect good things based off of what a human has told me, then surely I can expect good things from one who has never lied to be, never been wrong – at least not that I’m aware of – and pretty much keeps his word.
Think about this. Think about the last thing you wanted, doesn’t matter if you verbalized it aloud or kept it hidden in your heart and you actually received it. Now, imagine if someone had told you, you were going to receive whatever it was you desired but you didn’t believe them and you were struck mute until it happened. Let me make it simple for you. Someone says they are going to pick you up, you ask “You sure?” Boom, you’re mute until they arrive to pick you up, whenever that is. Goes to show there really is great power in the tongue. Every thought doesn’t need to be verbalized. But then again, I suspect G-d knew he would doubt, thus using him as a message to others. He had to point, gesture and use his body to convey his thoughts and the people knew he had seen a vision from G-d. He will get his point across, BAMN. Guess that’s why most men today are dumbstruck when a woman tells them she’s pregnant. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?