Monday, December 2, 2013
In Her Sandals -- Women of Christmas
Not Forgotten and Full of Surprises
It’s that time of year again. I’ve washed his clothes, packed food for his trip, kissed him goodbye, and watched him walk out the door headed to Jerusalem. I giggle a little because it feels like I’m sending him off to school, not that I know how it feels to send a little mister to school, but I can imagine. He will be gone for a good week. It’s his turn to serve in the temple. He goes twice a year to serve. This is nothing new to us. He comes from a family of priests, and my family of priests go all the way back to Aaron. This is the only life we know. He loves serving. It’s his heartbeat, his passion. He loves studying God’s Word, and he loves coming home to tell me what all he’s learned. The weeks that follow his return are some of the best conversations.
We are followers of Yahweh. I can’t remember a day when we weren’t. It’s not easy either. For years, no, decades we have prayed for one thing, and we have been denied it over and over and over again. People think because we don’t have children that we must have some sin in our lives, most specifically me. I remember weeping every time someone in our community became pregnant. It got to where people avoided telling me that they were expecting. I can’t say that I blame them. There was a time when I was just so tender. I didn’t understand why God would deny us a child, but I trusted that God had a plan. I didn’t know if His plan included children for us or if He had another way He was going to take care of us in our old age. We are His servants, and we humbly serve Him.
Now I’m at an age that no one expect me to become pregnant. For years I was blamed for not being able to conceive. It was my fault that we didn’t have a little Zechariah running around our home. Life happens. People have said some mean and heartless things over the past decades, but I realize they have no idea what I’m going through, and I don’t bother to tell them. I don’t tell them how I’ve grieved every month for the baby that wasn’t there or how my heart and arms feel so empty and bare. Barren. Infertile. Sterile. All labels I disdain but wear because my Lord has entrusted me with this in my life. I choose to keep my eyes looking for the Messiah. I choose to learn the Scriptures, so I can know the signs of His coming. Won’t that be simply amazing!? There has been almost 500 years of silence from God. No prophets. No stirring among the people. What we do have is the Scripture. People are pouring over them thirsty, craving, and desperate for a Word from Yahweh.
It’s funny that after all these years, I still have a desire to be someone’s mom. It’s still on my lips in prayer. To look down into the face of a gift from God, to wrap his fingers around mine, to kiss his forehead, to nurse him, to hear him and feel him against my skin – Those desires haven’t left me. Do you think that’s silly?
So, as the husband of my youth now the husband in my old age ambles toward Jerusalem, I realize just how quiet our home is, and I wonder what it would sound like to have a small voice, a small life living inside these walls. I just want to know what that’s like. Just once before I die. Just once.
Sorry I rambled on so. This is a very tender part of my heart that I just exposed. Please don’t judge me like those around here have.
The week drags on, and I get word that Zechariah has been selected to go into the Holy of Holies. How exciting! I’m so excited for him. This is a once in a lifetime experience. As a matter of fact, many priest die never being permitted to go into the Holy of Holies. On the other hand, some priest have died going into the Holy of Holies. Zechariah and I have talked about what to do if he ever gets the call to go in. We’ve heard stories about what it looks like. They burn incense at 9 AM and 3 PM. When they are burning incense, there is smoke going up, and people stop what they are doing to pray. All these prayers going up. Surely Yahweh will respond. Surely he won’t keep his back from us forever. I cannot wait for Zechariah to get home. I want to hear all about it. I have so many questions. I’m just so excited.
Finally, I see Zechariah returning home. It appears there is someone helping him, and I wonder what has happened. In no time we put some of the pieces of the puzzle together. Apparently while Zechariah was in the Holy of Holies an angel of the Lord came to him. That makes me so excited. I have chills, goose bumps. I’m on the edge of my seat. The angel told Zechariah that I was going to have a son and to call him John. There’s more to the message, but it’s unclear. The angel did something to Zechariah and now he can’t speak or hear.
Is this the trade-off? A baby for Zechariah’s speech and hearing? I don’t question it. I know God has his reasoning. But I have to tell you I’m dying to talk to my husband, to ask him questions, to hear the details from his own mouth. The biggest news of my life and my husband can’t answer my questions. To say that I am filled with joy would be the biggest understatement ever. There are no words that can convey to you what I’m feeling right now. I’m shocked. I’m surprised. I’m in awe. I’m humbled. For once, I cry a river of tears in shear utter delight and joy.
And to know that Yahweh after 500 years of silence, broke His silence to speak to my husband. The only word for that is humbling. Of all the priests, in all the years, in all the times incense was burned in the Holy of Holies, God controlled the lot that selected my husband for this specific time. My sweet, godly husband.
And as the angel told Zechariah, I did become pregnant. I became pregnant when women my age don’t get pregnant. I wasn’t sure those parts were even working still. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they didn’t. I stayed at home for the first five months of the pregnancy. Because while I am excited about the pregnancy, someone would find some reason that this should be shameful. Haters. Nothing is going to rob me of this joy. The two words I’ve wanted to say all my life, I’m pregnant, are now the words I hide in my heart. I’ve wanted for so long to shout it from the mountain top that I was indeed going to be a mom. I’ve wanted to tell people in the market about the upcoming arrival of my baby like all the other girls did, but instead, I keep this treasure for myself.
John. I rub my hands over my belly and call his name and smile.