Silent Night?

Have you ever been speechless? I mean, really speechless! I have. Many years ago, the women’s ministry at my church was preparing to kick-off a new mentoring program and, as leader of the ministry, I was looking forward to being the speaker for our event. However, on the morning of the event, I woke up speechless. Literally—I had laryngitis. This was before texting and I did not have any way to contact the committee. So I got in my car, went to Marilyn’s home, and knocked on the door. Marilyn was hosting her home school cooperative and she was not the one who opened the door. I will never forget the look on the face of the woman who did open the door. Here stood a crazy woman, gesturing wildly. I felt helpless and frustrated and also a bit foolish. After what seemed an eternity but was probably only a moment, Marilyn came to the door and we were able to come up with an alternative plan for the evening. The evening went well and it was only after Marilyn was done with the speaking part that my voice returned. I was more than a bit upset. After all, this was my brainchild and I deserved to be the one to introduce it, right? Well, we all know the saying, “Pride comes before a fall;” and, before the night was over, I realized that my pride had truly led me to this point. I had been so excited that I would have the opportunity to stand before all the women and be recognized for the great teacher that I was. I believe God used my laryngitis to teach me an important lesson that night. The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sinful pride and taught me that ministry is not about me or my programs—but about God and His desires. I wish I could say that I never experienced pride again, but I can’t. I can say that God often reminds me of this lesson and uses it to remind me that it truly is all about Him.

As we anticipate the celebration of Christmas, I ask that you consider the experience of another who was struck speechless—Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. His story is told in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Luke tells us that Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were both righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. Yet, even this righteous man had difficulty believing the words the angel brought that day. “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.” Luke 1:13

Because of his unbelief, Zechariah is struck speechless and for the next nine months had a case of “divine laryngitis.” Even as I struggled to make myself understood, Zechariah did the same, but his laryngitis lasted a lot longer than mine. I don’t remember the first words I spoke after my voice returned, but Luke’s Gospel has an account of Zechariah’s: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to His people and redeemed them.” Luke 1:68

As I read these verses, I was reminded of the time I was “speechless” and the lesson in humility. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Redeemer, let’s spend some time “speechless” before the LORD and learn from His example. Then, like Zechariah, let’s raise our voices and give praise and honor to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them.

Merry Christmas from Judy and me – and may God draw you closer to Him in 2017.