It took a long time for me to be able to look at anything to do with babies without my heart going to a dark place.  How could I trust God? 

It was my first miscarriage.  We had been helping out at a summer camp and were hours away from home.  I ended up losing our baby in a strange hospital without any friends or family (other than Bill). The wounds were raw.  It took a long time for me to be able to look at anything to do with babies without my heart going to a dark place.  How could I trust God?  We were faithful followers of Jesus. How could this be part of God’s plan? It was not my dream.


Maybe this is also what Zechariah and Elizabeth wondered: how could they trust God?  When we are introduced to them in Luke 1:5-25: they were both very old. In other words, one foot in the grave.  Over the years how many births of friends and neighbors had they repeatedly participated in celebrating? Zech and Elizabeth would then return to their own home where their cradle just gathered dust, season after season. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive. When was the day they finally gave their unused cradle to another family? Or did they chop it up for firewood?  I think I may have done the latter.  It is hard to let go of dreams.


It may have seemed God was hearing everyone else’s prayers except the prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth.  Yet they chose to trust God and maintain a spiritual life that was: righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.  They were not only outwardly good, but decided to continue to follow God with all their hearts. In spiritual terms, this is the season where the battle is either won or lost.  The victory is when genuine faith becomes a conscious decision to continue to cling to God, regardless of the circumstances. Zech and Elizabeth still clung to the goodness of God, whether or not their cradle was filled.

It is understandable that Zechariah had a problem comprehending the message from the angel. At his age, it’s a wonder he didn’t have a heart attack when the angel appeared to him with the message: God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. At the back of Zech’s mind, maybe he was saying, “Yeah, sure, it’s about time…”


In the twilight of their lives, Zechariah and Elizabeth were going to experience great joy and gladness.  This long-awaited baby would be everything they had ever prayed for: filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth.  Their son John’s mission would be the ultimate answer to the prayer that any believing parents ask for their children. John would not only give them great joy and gladness, but he would also be a godly man, great in the eyes of God, and he would prepare the hearts of his fellow countrymen for the coming of the Messiah.  What more could a parent ask for?


God had never forgotten the prayer of Zechariah and Elizabeth. He felt their grief all those years, especially when the prayers of others were answered. He heard their laments. Psalm 5:1-3: Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help,  my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;   in the morning I lay my requests before you    and wait expectantly. It may have seemed that God’s timing was off regarding Zech and Elizabeth, but it fit perfectly into God’s perfect calendar for humanity.  God was with them even during the darkest times.  Our Father understands all about empty cradles. Are you waiting for the God Who can be trusted? He may not answer in the way you are expecting, but He is the God Who is good. How about giving Him your dreams?

For further encouragement, listen to the story of Loryn Smith


Has God sent a skylark to you during this past year?  Maybe you have forgotten to look up and to listen.

I talked to a friend recently about the shutting down of businesses in her home town.  Crime has gotten so bad that even the Walmarts have closed their doors.   Cracker Barrel has also shut down, however my friend didn’t even know they had a Cracker Barrel, so that point was moot. A spirit of fear can fill our hearts.


Corrie Ten Boom was a survivor of Ravensbrück concentration camp. If ever there was a place for fear, it resided at that death camp.  The largest concentration camp for women in the German Reich, it was second in size only to the women’s camp in Auschwitz. The first prisoners interned at Ravensbrück were approximately 900 women in May 1939. By the end of 1942, the female inmate population of Ravensbrück had grown to about 10,000. In January 1945, the camp had more than 50,000 prisoners, mostly women. Can you imagine the despondency, terror, and desperation of the women interned there?


Corrie recorded in her memoirs regarding Ravensbrück,“Once, while we were on a roll call, a cruel guard kept us standing for a long, long time. Suddenly, a skylark began to sing in the sky, and all the prisoners looked up to listen to that bird’s song. As I looked at the bird, I saw the sky and thought of Psalms 103:11. “O love of God, how deep and great; far deeper than man’s deepest hate.” God sent that skylark daily for three weeks, exactly during roll call, to turn our eyes away from the cruelty of man to the oceans of His love.”


Has God sent a skylark to you during this past year?  Maybe you have forgotten to look up and to listen.  Maybe you have forgotten to let Him drill into your soul these truths: “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command. The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. (Psalm 33:4-11) Listen for the skylark!

For further reflection, read This is My Battle Cry


Perhaps the God we remember is small, distant, disconnected, uncaring, and seemingly unwise.

Carefully we had to navigate amidst all of the photographers’ tripods and equipment in the Longwood Conservatory for the magical event. The blue poppies bloom for such a short time and then they are gone.  Why in the world did God create blue poppies and also give us the gift to see their magnificent bursts of color?  Why in His power would He allow something to exist just because it is beautiful?


It’s easy for me to forget the blue poppies in my day to day life.  I often interpret the character, size and strength of the God Who rules when in my brokenness I judge by what I have not seen God do.  I sometimes exist as a “functional atheist”. Paul Tripp writes, “I have been struck that if I believed in the same “god” they described, I’d be in a panic too. Perhaps the God we remember is small, distant, disconnected, uncaring, and seemingly unwise.” I forget Who my powerful God and substitute Him with a mini-god. 


There is a wakeup call that God gave Job after all the explanations Job’s “friends” had given him for his extended disasters which included the death of all Job’s children, loss of all his wealth, loss of reputation, loss of the support of his wife, loss of health, and loss of peace of mind.  Job’s advisors began hammering away at him that everything was because Job had sinned and apparently Job had committed a whopper.  Job repeatedly told them that their words were meaningless, but Job also could not explain God. 


Everything comes to a dramatic head. “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this who darkens counsel with words without knowledge? Get ready for a difficult task like a man; I will question you and you will inform me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you possess understanding. Who set its measurements—if you know— or who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its bases set, or who laid its cornerstone— when the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:1-7) In other words, “Job, where were you when I created the Himalayan Poppy?”


We have the God who has the power to create the blue poppy and Who wants us to realize that the problem is not that He is small, distant, disconnected, uncaring and unwise.  The problem is that those words often best describe our own hearts: small, distant, disconnected, uncaring and unwise.

Do not forget the poppy!

Further reading: Ephesians 1:18-23