And you, Child, will be called the prophet of the most high . . . .
These words sound unremarkable, even normal to many of us from our vantage here in the year 2014.
But when Zechariah spoke them so long ago, they were so bizarre and countercultural, we can't even begin to understand the absurdity.
The Jewish people had been waiting on a Savior for eons. They hung on the promise of a mighty King, a Savior, who the Scriptures promised would lift them from their lowliness into everlasting glory. It's beaten into history now. But the concept of the God child who would open up the gates of some place called Heaven was almost unheard of then. A total doozy. Yes, it was hidden in or alluded to in the Scriptures of that time, yet the prophets didn't understand enough to recognize or reveal this God child as a reality, let alone an expectation.
Imagine being one of them: waiting all your life for the emergence, the grand entrance, the mighty Lord who would save the world from its every woe . . . and all of a sudden catching wind that a child—a meagre, dependent child, akin to the little whimpering rascals you see running around in need of a good nose wiping and a diaper change—would be the one to save you instead.
Absurd doesn't even begin to cover it. A weak human baby wasn't what they wanted or expected. It was the furthest thing from it. As such, many ultimately rejected the gift of the Savior they'd waited generations for—and as such, rejected the greatest gift of all, which was their Salvation—simply because the method God chose to give the gift didn't seem plausible. It didn't line up with their expectations.
We're not much different when it comes to certain gifts or answers to prayer. We often place so many expectations on what God should give us or how He should answer us that we inadvertently reject the actual gift He's offering. We may not think He's listening, or that He's ignoring us or deliberately not answering. But the thing about God is that He always answers. It's just that it usually isn't an answer we would expect or drudge up with our feeble human minds. But because God knows our innermost being and what we need far better than we do, the gift or answer to prayer He has waiting for us also comes with the exact graces our soul needs to grow closer to Him. It may not be what we've been expecting, but He's offering us a gift with outstretched hands. Let's choose to accept it, sisters.
The busyness of this season is often overwhelming, with little time to consider the unfathomable gift God is waiting to give us tomorrow on Christmas.
How can we open our hearts today to accept the gift of the Holy Child who is so often rejected? What expectations can we let go of in order to accept the gifts and graces that our Father is hoping to give us this Christmas?
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer, and former soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.