It was a mass wedding – and she was the youngest of the five brides.
When it was their turn, Lisa couldn’t help the blush that highlighted her cheeks as Zach looked at her, eyes filled with love, as he repeated after the minister, “To love and to hold, in sickness and in health…”
She knew her own eyes were a reflection of his, but she couldn’t help herself. She had loved him from the first time they met, and when he had gone to see her parents, she had squealed along with her sisters.
He was so handsome. So tall. Most of all, just like her, he loved God.
In fact, he was the only groom out of the five who was in Bible School. He was training to be a minister and had told her he was called into full-time service. Coming from a lineage of full-time ministers herself, Lisa had understood – and had even taken it as a confirmation that they were indeed meant to be together.
She could imagine their home: Both of them deeply in love with each other, serving God together in the ministry, raising a home filled with children ‘like olive plants round about the table’.
Children who would fear, love and serve the Lord. Just like their father.
She couldn’t wait.
Fifty-something years later…
Lisa sat, front row, with other members of the massive congregation. As usual, Zach was in his office preparing. It had been that way for years. He would spend time alone with God before coming out to give the message.
As she listened to the choir sing about God’s faithfulness, her wrinkled smile was beautiful – but resigned. She wondered for the billionth time where they had gotten it wrong.
She and Zach had both married chaste. They both loved the Lord. They both served and obeyed Him in everything.
Yet there had been no children.
They had not been too bothered initially, Zach especially. Her husband had had such blazing confidence in God’s promises and faithfulness. His initial prayers had been filled with faith and assurance.
Then, as the years progressed, the prayers had become more desperate…and they had prayed. Oh, how they had prayed: Individually. Together. With other ministers. With members of the congregation. With family. With friends. With her female praying partners. With his male praying partners. They had prayed and prayed – then prayed and prayed.
But Lisa didn’t get pregnant.
She attended the baby showers and naming ceremonies of her friends and relatives – and even those of the other brides at their mass wedding. Her emotions – which she tried to hide behind a smile – were many and intense. Anxiety. Anger. Perplexity. Envy. Confusion. Frustration. Bitterness.
Then as the years rolled by – and those babies grew up and she began to attend their showers – the emotions tapered off to only two:
Acceptance and resignation.
She had seen the same change in Zach – but what hurt her most was his lost faith. Oh, he still loved the Lord, obeyed His commandments and went about his ministerial duties. But the spark was quenched. The confident faith that had distinguished him from other ministers was gone.
It had started showing in his speech. His words – which had been once filled with hope in the promises of God – had given way to words of doubt and unbelief. He still prayed for children as the head and priest of the home, but it was by rote and mechanical. She had asked God to please restore her husband’s faith, but nothing seemed to work. Her prayer seemed to go unanswered.
Lisa sighed, coming back to the present. The choir had finished their rendition and begun another, obviously waiting for the message. She wondered why it was taking so long for him to come out.
As usual, Zach locked the door behind him and sank his aged knees to the chair behind the desk. He prayed – again, as usual – for the service and for the people who had come to be blessed. He prayed for their hearts, for their understanding – and also for himself to minister as God desired.
When he was done, he got up – and his eyes met those of the huge man standing by his desk.
“Wha…?! ”Zach’s heart thudded so hard, he stooped and clutched his chest tightly to stop from having a heart attack. His eyes flew to the door, still locked from within. “Who are you?! How did you get in here?!”
The stranger was calm. “Hello, Zach. My name is Gabe and God sent me to you.”
Gabe continued, unfazed. “He said He has heard your prayers – and I should tell you that Lisa will give birth to a very special child, and he has been chosen for a very special purpose.”…
Finally the door to the pastor’s office opened and Zach came out. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief – until he got on the platform…
…and began to gesticulate with his hands.
Lisa stared in horror along with the crowd. Her articulate, well-spoken husband was dumb!
Even though the church went into a major uproar and the news spread like wildfire, Zach had insisted on still performing his duties – writing down instructions and using sign language.
They had left for home quite late and in total silence, Lisa stealing glances at her husband all the way. He hadn’t once looked in her direction, seemingly too preoccupied with his own thoughts.
As she passed by to run warm water for her customary bath, Zach caught her by her hand. She turned to find him grinning at her, then he winked. The way he looked at her made her blush right down to her toes, and wonder of wonders, she felt her body respond!
It had been years!
But it was the expression in his eyes that caused her heart stop – and tears to spill out of her eyes:
Her husband’s faith was back.
Six months later, Lisa sat hidden in her bedroom, her wrinkled hands protectively cradling her bump. She had been in denial and shock since she discovered she was pregnant. She hadn’t stepped out of the house once she started showing. How could she explain it?!
Suddenly, a knock sounded on the door, and before she could get up, the door burst open and her cousin, Mary, rushed into the room, breathless with haste, hair flying everywhere.
“Lisa, is it true?!”
Two things registered in Lisa’s mind at that moment:
(1)Mary knew about the baby – when she and Zach hadn’t told anyone.
(2)Immediately her baby heard Mary’s voice, he had jumped up wildly – and was now kicking fiercely!
And at that moment, a gust of supernatural wind enveloped her – and it all became clear. Very, very clear.
Finally, at long last, she understood.
(1) God is ALWAYS faithful.
(2) No matter how much Zach and Lisa prayed and fasted and decreed and declared and confessed and commanded and agreed and stood in faith, there was a DIVINE SCHEDULE already in place – and that schedule demanded that John be borne six months before Jesus was born.
Not a moment sooner.
(A brief adaptation of Luke 1)