“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 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. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.'” – Luke 1:11-17
In between miscarriages early in our marriage, I had to have a procedure done that caused me to wonder whether we would ever be able to conceive. I was filled with anxiety beforehand. Our pastor, Joe Coffey, came to the hospital to pray with us and to read us a passage of Scripture that helped to quiet our spirits. Yes, God had called us by name. God had promised to be with us.
When I was a student for a time in a master’s program in Christian ministry, there was a dispute among students about the authorship of the New Testament letters. If we do not know for sure who wrote them, if someone wrote them in the name of another, what are we to do with the Word of God? After the discussion came to a heated standstill, the professor said, “A good ruler for determining whether a Word is from God (extrabiblical or biblical) is this: Does the Holy Spirit speak to someone each time the passage is read? Maybe not for you specifically but to someone?“
There is a strange and mysterious power in words. Words can speak life or condemnation, root into your heart and grow. There have been times when I have felt compelled to call someone I haven’t seen in a while or to write a note on Facebook or email, and in that moment I feel kind of silly, kind of embarrassed, kind of hesitant to speak. I have learned, though, that you do not ignore those compulsions to share a word of encouragement, that inevitably, the recipient needed that word at that precise moment, to carry with her like I’ve carried those verses Joe gave us in our moment of need.
Our presence may not be as startling as Zechariah’s angel, but we have the same power to speak hope and light into the lives that surround us, from our children to our spouses to our co-workers to our friends and even to strangers.
It’s Friday! Movie night in the Wells’ house, and my husband is actually home this weekend, so it’s an extra special movie night with all five of us here. You can bet there will be hot chocolate tonight. Maybe we will bring blankets out to camp on the living room floor, but even if that doesn’t happen, there will certainly be snuggling.