“And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”” (Luke 1:18, ESV)
The angel Gabriel came to Zechariah from the “presence of God” specifically to share an astounding thing the Lord was about to do in the priest’s life. The Word the angel brought (the “what”) was stunning: a son for this old husband and wife—yet not just a son, a great prophet who would be the forerunner of Messiah. Though his conception and birth, shame and disgrace would be wiped away. Through his life, a people would be prepared for Jesus!
Zechariah’s “what” was amazing! Who of us gets a “what” like his? The Almighty had chosen this humble and upright man for an honor and blessing unrivaled in hundreds of years. That’s quite a “what!”
As glorious as that interaction began between Gabriel and Zechariah, the conversation “went south” shortly thereafter. The questions racing through the priest’s heart and mind spilled out of his mouth: “How?” Zechariah’s insistence on understanding “how” eclipsed his faith and momentarily stole away the glory of the “what.”
Gratefully, the angel’s “correction,” though significant, was temporary. Zechariah had nine months to think about how lips are made to thank and worship the Giver of miraculous “whats” and not for questioning His ability to deliver.
Our “how” can be the enemy of the “what” God desires to do in and through us.
The Lord isn’t dependent on our understanding of His plans for them to be fulfilled. Rather, He’s most looking for a humble “yes” in response to what He’s declared.
Truthfully, would we be able to understand or appreciate the details of His plan if He was to reveal them? I suspect that giving us a little of the “how” would only instigate more questions and fuel greater skepticism!
Admittedly, the promise Gabriel gave Zechariah seemed far-fetched in the natural. I mention this not to make excuses for Zechariah, but to point out the contrast: How many of us have heard the Lord speak, on much lesser items, but still cannot avoid the “how” trap?
When we pray, are we content to wait and see how the Lord works? Or, do we need to “mentally manage” His progress? Is His promise enough? Can we trust His word and wait quietly with thanks and praise on our lips, or not?
I struggle in this area…badly. Though I try to spin my “need to know” as something spiritually positive, the truth is actually not pretty. My lust for “how” is born of a lack of trust. Yet, when I humbly accept the Lord’s plans, timing, and outcomes, I move from the unsettled and insecure realm of “how” to the peace and joy that flow by embracing His “what” without conditions.
What are you restless about? Where are you wanting details you don’t need? How are you acting like Zechariah?
Take a moment today with me and quietly pray: “Father, I choose to trust You. Though I can’t see the “how,” I decide to hold onto the “what” You’ve given. What’s more, I draw close to You, the Giver of promises and the Answerer of prayers. You’re enough. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”