“he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” (Luke 1: 9-13 NIV)
Last week I attended a memorial service for Liston Drury. My family’s association with Liston came late in his life. When we met him, he was a retired Poultry Science engineer, who owned and operated a Christmas tree farm. He was an upbeat, happy man with a dry sense of humor, and a faithful family man with a servant’s heart.
What I did not know was the extent of Mr. Drury’s service to others and to the Lord. At the memorial service his granddaughter, son and several others described his years serving in the Navy, and later as a college professor, researcher, father, and church member. It seems to me that whenever Liston was called to serve, he said yes.
This week, I came across the story of Zechariah, in Beth Moore’s Jesus the One and Only Bible study. Zechariah was an elderly man and the husband of Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. As a priest, he was on a rotation to serve in the temple. His turn to burn incense and send up prayers for the people had arrived. Then, for reasons beyond our understanding, Zechariah forgets his old age and Elizabeth’s barrenness, and he sends up a prayer for a son, a prayer that has gone unanswered for the duration of his married life. Only this time, he receives an immediate response, from the Angel of the LORD, no less. The angel announces that Zechariah will indeed have a son, that he will be called John, and that he will be the one to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah. Wow! Double Wow!
I have read this story many times before, but this time I marveled at the way God honored Zechariah’s faithfulness in worship, prayer and service. The question that immediately crossed my mind was: What if Zechariah had missed this opportunity to serve? What if he had called in sick? What if he had failed to pray for a son this time? Surely God would have accomplished His purposes another way, but would He have used Zechariah?
By the same token, what happens when we are given opportunities to worship, pray and to serve, but we call in sick, say no, or don’t show up? In order for God to bless us and our work, we need to make ourselves available, and the way to be available is to say yes.
Dearest Heavenly Father,
We know your plans are everlasting. We praise you for being the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. When you include us in your plans, we are both honored and frightened, just as Zechariah was. We thank you for your plan of salvation. We thank you for giving us your Holy Word to light our way on life’s journey. Thank you for hearing our prayers in the same way you heard Zechariah’s prayer. Forgive us when doubt clouds our belief, and when we fail to answer your call to service. We ask for wisdom and discernment in recognizing your voice and for boldness to always answer yes.
In the name of Jesus, who said yes even death on a cross,