Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
The last few days I have been blogging all about allowing God into your heart completely. As I read the verses in Luke today, I realized the magnitude of Elizabeth’s faith life. God’s plan was perfect. He was to announce to Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, that they were to have a child in their old age, when in fact they had been barren for many many years. My guess is they had moved on with their life knowing that they would never bear any children. So this announcement came as a surprise to poor Zechariah who was just minding his own business praying in The Holy Place (a sacred inner sanctuary which was truly a once in a lifetime chance). Zechariah had a moment of doubt when he was told by the angel of the pregnancy. This doubt paved the way for the angel who had come to him to say, “…since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.” (Luke 1:20).
After this took place, Elizabeth indeed became pregnant. She saw this as a miracle. Because she was so open to God’s plan for her and gave her heart COMPLETELY to God, He revealed to Elizabeth that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah. So the moment that Mary entered Elizabeth’s house, Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb.
Let’s remember there were no phones, no computers, no telegrams, nothing. There was no way to communicate with your relatives who lived far away except to visit. It was a long journey for Mary to Judea – around 3 days. There was no way Elizabeth would have heard the news of Mary’s child even gossip could not spread that fast.
The beauty of this entire story is that God set this all up perfectly. Mary and Elizabeth needed each other. Elizabeth encouraged Mary because she knew that Mary was telling the truth. She was carrying the Messiah, and Elizabeth was grateful to Mary for that. Elizabeth had endured such a long road in her own fertility that when God blessed her with this child, she opened her heart even more to Him. She allowed her sin of regrets to wash away. She allowed God to enter her heart. After all, John the Baptist (who was in Elizabeth’s womb) would pave the way for Mary’s son (Jesus) to come into many lives. Amazing.
Now when I read this, I could see the beauty of opening my heart to God, completely. He has such perfect, grand plans for each of us. They don’t come without pain and suffering, but they are marvelous, beautiful plans. When we block these plans with our free will, we miss out on so many great experiences. We become like Zechariah. Zechariah learns quickly that his doubt was wrong. I am sure throughout the 9 months of pregnancy, Zechariah learned how powerful God was. He probably had some regrets about his reaction to the angel. He probably felt a little guilty.
We have all been there before. I think most of us know when we are blocking God’s plans. I think most of us have a little intuition that tells us when we are making bad choices. When we allow our own selfishness to get ahead of God’s plans, we miss out on great opportunities. Zechariah knew this, and my guess is he was praying daily that his big mouth did not ruin God’s grand plan. He was a good man who made a bad choice.
I know you all can hear me out there. He was a good man who made a bad choice. We all do it, but do we face up to it when it happens? Do we apologize for our selfish behavior? Do we go to prayer and ask for forgiveness, grace and mercy? Do we change our pattern of behavior so it doesn’t happen again? Do we open our hearts up to God completely?
Look at Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a source of strength for Mary. She lifted Mary up in a very down time of her life. Mary knew she was doing the right thing, but so many others were telling her differently. Elizabeth acknowledged the greatness of God, and reminded Mary that her “yes” was for all of mankind. What an awesome relative! But Elizabeth was only able to do this because she had experienced God’s wonderful blessing, and had opened her heart completely to His greatness.
Don’t hold back. Open your heart to God’s great plan.