One of the great parenting lessons I learned from my parents was to set firm limits and keep them. With those limits were clear opportunities to receive more freedom and responsibility if I showed I was ready. I remember one of the limits was that I couldn’t mow grass until I was eleven years old. Other buddies were mowing and earning big money a couple of years before me. My parents held to their limit based on my safety. When the spring of my eleventh birthday finally arrived my dad began to teach me to use the power mower. I don’t know where he got it, but he had a work boot he said had protected his foot when he accidentally slipped and pushed it under the mower (those were the days before protection flaps). That boot was shredded. He explained that if he had been wearing tennis shoes he may have lost his foot. His point was well made. I can still remember looking at my feet as I grasped the handle bars of the mower to make sure they were nowhere near the back wall of the mower. I had a very healthy fear of that mower. I think that was a very good thing. I wore boots while mowing until I was an adult, years after safety flaps were standard on mowers.
In Exodus 20:20 we read, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning’.” God wants us to know He loves us with an unending love. His forgiveness for us is ever sure. Also, God wants us to have a healthy fear of Him and His hatred of sin. He will test us over and over to come closer to Him, trust Him with everything in our lives, and learn to recognize and hate our sins as well.
One of the rarely told birth narratives is the miraculous birth of John the Baptist to his elderly parents (Luke 1). His mother could never have children. In vs. 6 Luke makes a point that Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous. They had learned their lessons well, even though life had been hard on them. There were few things worse than not having any children in Bible times. People would question whether Zachariah even deserved to be a priest because God had withheld His blessing of children.
Seven hundred years before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah tells us that there will be a prophet of God sent in advance of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will tell people that the Messiah has come. We read in Luke 1:13, “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.’” Notice they are comforted like everyone else who is a part of Jesus’ birth, “Not to be afraid.” Zechariah and Elizabeth’s faith and obedience remind us to trust God with everything.
Most people think trusting in God is fine, as long as it is something you believe He can do. How often do you trust God to do the impossible, like giving an elderly couple a child? How often do we become content to let God handle the ordinary things in life like providing for our basic needs or meeting some other desired need? How often do we bring the really hard things to God, those things that seem impossible? What is the most impossible thing going on in your life right now? Have you gotten on your knees and asked God to help you with it? Take anything to God! God can heal broken people, chronic pain, crumbling marriages, and shattered dreams.
If you have the courage to go to God with a healthy fear and reverence you will definitely see miracles. Be careful. The miracles may be in you! God is going to reveal what His will is for your life, and as you trust Him more and more your prayers will be to do His will. It will be hard, but do not be afraid, God is gentle as He leads us to those places of more mature faith.
Remember, God has done the impossible in the past. He created something from nothing. How impossible can you get? I know He can handle the impossible things in your life. Trust Him to give you an unforgettable Christmas miracle this year.
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