The husband, he opens the Word and reads to us this cold, snowy morning. The gathering at a building is cancelled, but the gathering into His Word, into His heart, under His wing...that is not something weather can cancel. And so he reads. He reads through the Jesse tree Scriptures, picking up right where we left off when my headache hit and my memory failed. Oh, I know that it is after Christmas, but this anticipating His coming...it does not end with the celebration of His birth. It begins with that day, unfurling hope in our hearts...as we await His coming again.
And so, this husband of mine pauses for us to share what the Lord speaks to our hearts. Me, I choke at the words. Every Scripture is a red cord whispering hope to me...the Messiah is coming. But this one Scripture, it corrects - it challenges me. He speaks after reading the story so close to my heart, the story of a woman who is barren...womb closed. Her husband a priest named Zechariah. He talks of what it meant for a woman in that culture to be barren. Heartache and sorrow.
Judgment, I am sure it tried to find and label their sin. That hope that every woman in Israel longed for...a blessed son, to have her part in the inheritance of Israel. Surely God had withheld a child from these two because of something that they lacked, something that they had done, some disobedience, some secret sin. Surely their suffering of the closed womb was evidence of what was buried deep in hard hearts. This is man, judging those whose hearts he can not see, judging according to man's wisdom.
But truly, it is God whose judgment matters. And what does He say? How does He describe this aged couple, time of childbearing behind them? He declares them blameless and righteous. He is going to bless...in His time...in His way...and they have not lost hope in Him. Elizabeth and Zechariah, they have walked blamelessly before Him, through circumstances that broke hearts and challenged faith. Righteous. And so, He describes His servants. Him whose judgment is right and true.
The closed womb was for His glory, not for His judgment. Those who judged, judged wrongly. They were not able to see the purposes of the Lord. He brings this child to a faith-filled couple and this child will turn hearts back, preparing the way for The Child. And the Lord uses these two whose hearts have faithfully waited on Him to birth and raise the one who announces the Lord's coming.
My eyes, they brim with tears as I remember the people in my life whom I have wrongly judged. My eyes, they are too oft blind to the high purposes of God, so I foolishly think that a struggle in a friend's life, it must be because of some silent sin, some wrong decision...when really, it just might be that she is righteous and blameless in His sight, clinging in faith, tightly holding to the promises He has whispered in her heart. And me, I have no wisdom to understand her trial. I am blind to her heart and have no vision of sin lurking there, just because of the circumstances she endures. To my sin and to my shame, I have too oft done this unrighteous judging.
And so, I confess and repent. I flee to the Savior and ask for forgiveness and grace. I seek grace and wisdom from Him, His Truth, so when my sister-in-Christ calls with her struggles, she will not find a harsh judge, but instead encounter a grace-filled friend, encouraging her and pointing her to the Savior, speaking His grace and His love to her.