Vertical Worship – “Elizabeth” (Devotional)

Elizabeth

Yes I Will Wait With Expectation

The prophets promised a “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), and yet for centuries the people of Israel had known only war, captivity, and hardship.

Isaiah foretold a coming ruler who would “decide with equity for the meek of the earth” (Isaiah 11:4) and yet wherever the people of God looked they saw injustice, Roman occupation, and oppressive taxation that increased poverty.

The prophets had been silent for so many years (four hundred, in fact), that many people started to wonder if all those stories and sayings were just that…stories and sayings, myths and legends not to be taken too seriously. Some decided to abandon the old beliefs in favor of organizing around political visionaries and militant insurrectionists taking things into their own hands. Most people simply didn’t know what to do.

Into this cultural landscape of doubt, paranoia and longing, two miraculous pregnancies were announced to two unlikely candidates. First to Elizabeth, who was not only barren but also well past child-bearing age, and the second to Mary, who was a virgin. Almost immediately after the second announcement, the two women were brought together in a rapturous and dramatic meeting:

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

Luke 1:39-45

John the Baptist (the baby growing inside Elizabeth) jumped for joy at the sound of the voice of his Lord’s mother, whom he had never seen or met. After all these years, the “myths and legends” were finally coming true, even though they could only be felt through the walls of the womb: so close, and yet so far away.

With God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

Maybe this December you feel a bit like the people of Israel in expectation. Maybe you’ve been waiting for something so long that you’re starting to wonder if the promises will be fulfilled.

In Advent we are invited to leap for joy at the sense of something beautiful and momentous drawing near, even though it cannot yet be seen. We’re summoned into the counter-intuitive discipline of joyfully and confidently believing what cannot be seen, because “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), just as Elizabeth and Mary believed. 

This Advent season may we, like Mary, be called blessed because we “believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to [us] from the Lord.”

Prayer:

Sovereign Lord,

Increase my faith this Advent season and give me the courage to believe that all things are possible through You. Cause my soul to leap for joy at the feeling of Your nearness and the sound of Your voice, and to celebrate the truth of Your promises. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, like Elizabeth, that I might give thanks for all You have done, and for all You’ve yet to do.

Practice:

Select a biography of a Christian saint whose example you admire (i.e. David Brainerd, Augustine, Corrie Ten Boom, Elisabeth Eliot), and read through it this holiday season, noting how often the person was called upon to “wait for the Lord” and how they persevered.

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