I have been sitting and meditating on Luke 1-2 for the last few weeks.
I think that almost every mom or dad looks at their own newborn baby and believes, hopes, and wonders if their child is special.
I think we chose things that reflect how much we believe and hope that they are special.
We buy them special outfits, look carefully at the ingredients in their food, worry about their car-seat safety, think through breast or formula and write letters full of hopes, dreams and prayers for them.
We believe our kids are one-of-a-kind, unique beings that we will have the joy of raising. (Except when they won’t sleep at night…but we won’t get into that here…)
And they are.
But think about John the Baptist.
His mom and dad were picked from all the people ever to be born to birth and parent the greatest prophet that would ever live.
They were old people. Way past having a baby old. They had their affairs in order, lives settled, routines set. Hopes for children had LONG past left them. I’m wonder that when an angel showed up and told Zacharias he was going to have a baby he may have internally freaked out and thought “no thanks!” (Imagine! They would need a crib, a nursery, a birth plan, a new will, a bigger house, time off work, money out of the retirement fund and into the RESP’s…)
However, God chose them. He timed it perfectly. He arranged to have John born to a senior citizen couple, whose dreams were likely set on dying peacefully and meeting God with clear conscience’s. (Much harder to do when you are disciplining a toddler..trust me!)
And when John is born, everyone who comes to meet him says (vs 66) “What will THIS child turn out to be??”
Obviously, he was special.
Obviously, he was intriguing. Even as a baby.
And he was kinda a rock star baby. It says that everyone living around them were talking about them. (I imagine raising John was like raising a Jolie-Pitt child- paparazzi everywhere…) Talk about living in a glass box! How many times do you think Elizabeth got told “Put a hat on that child!!”
So–how then does it make sense that in verse 80 it says: “and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”
Why would an older couple whose dreams have finally been fulfilled let their kid go play and live in the desert?
Have you ever watched Wild Kratts? There’s scorpions out there! And coyotes, Robbers, Zealots, Romans, hungry wild beasts and rocks and sand.
Sounds like the perfect playground right?
What were they thinking?????????
I have 3 options:
First: they were old. So they laid on the couch and didn’t fuss too much when John ran out the door in the morning to play, because it was just way too tiring to chase that kid around.
(I doubt it, but maybe?)
Second: they had died.
Third: they had been firmly grounded since the day of his miraculous conception in the knowledge that his destiny was not theirs to own, but God’s to direct, and that their parenting choices weren’t going to move the plan God had for John.
Both Elizabeth and Zacharias had been given words from God about their son and the part he would play in ushering in the Messiah (whom EVERY devout Jewish person longed for.) so I think they likely hung on to those words as the days drifted onwards.
I think they didn’t worry or care about what people thought about their raising of John. I think they just decided to hold him loosely, knowing he was a gift that had been entrusted to them to raise for the benefit of an entire nation.
Maybe that knowledge made it easier when they had to sacrifice the dreams that come with having a baby.
Think about it.
Knowing that you are old and you likely won’t have and will never see your son fully grown up. Knowing you might die when’s he’s little and worrying about the trauma you might cause him. Knowing you’ll never know if there was a continuation of your family tree, because God has not given him your family name to carry on. Knowing that you’ll likely never have grandkids. Knowing that he’s not likely going to be like the other kids that are all around you. (and I wonder this: did they know that he might prematurely die because of destiny God had for him?).
All these sacrifices are what parents who have kids that have special needs or chronic/terminal illnesses have to process through. They know that their children won’t ever be like the “rest of the kids”and that can be painful.
But every parent has to deal with some worries, some apprehensions, some knowledge that we will never be enough. Or some disappointment with how our kid is turning out.
But maybe facing these things and giving them to God is ever so freeing.
God spared Elizabeth and Zacharias and was so very faithful.
(He even gave them great names: Zacharias means: God remembers. And Elizabeth means: God promised and God is plentiful.)
Think about this: they were barren (so had some shame locked up in their heart-closets) that God freed them of when He gave them John.
They were old, but were re-gifted new hope, new wonder, new mysteries to dream on instead of dull waiting-for-the-end-kind-of-living.
They were seasoned and wise and had had the chance to watch everyone around them raise kids and had probably banked tons of “if we ever had a child this is what we will do” tidbits within them.
They were elderly, and were therefore likely spared (because they would have already died of old age) the terrible pain of watching your son be put in jail and beheaded by your king.
They were old enough to have lots of perspective and likely didn’t stress out about the little things (like desert scorpions, sheesh!) and instead kept their eyes and hearts focused on the fact that they KNEW God had said: “And YOU child, will be called the prophet of the Most High: For you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”
They were able to let John’s spirit go and get strong (vs 80) as he met with God in the desert because Zacharias had everything that John needed. (He was a priest and could train John in the scriptures and ways of God without even leaving home.)
They were given the life of awesomeness. (Side thought:but God did promise good things to those who were righteous and faithful- and they were both. (Luke 1:6))
So where does this leave me?
Personally- I want to raise my kids with the assurance of God’s PERFECT timing (it was super perfect for Elizabeth and Zacharias) so that I’m not fretting over the “what was or what will be’s?”
I want to raise my kids knowing that God has a plan for them. That it’s His plan, not my plan, so I can relax a little.
I want to raise my kids knowing that whatever they need to face whatever God’s got planned, He has likely provided it to me already. (Think Zacharias having priestly training for John’s career as a preacher…)
I want to raise my kids not worrying about legacy-leaving the way that the world does. I want to launch them with God’s dreams in their hearts, not my own grand-baby kind of dreams.
I want to be reminded that each child is special. Every last one has been perfectly timed, perfectly choreographed for the part and role they are playing in God’s amazing story.
And I want to not stress out about the small details as much. Haircuts and skinny jeans aren’t predictors of success. (I know, I know.)
I want to give them the freedom to meet God and be strengthened in their spirits- and that part might look unconventional. But it is important.
Most importantly- I want to ask God each day to remind me that these babies I am raising are actually His children, and to hold them tightly and loosely as they grow in being a blessing to the people around them.
(P.S. I soooooooo want to meet Elizabeth and Zacharias when I get to heaven. Seriously. They are my new hero parents!)