Ever felt that prickle of anticipation, that longing for Christmas morning as a child? Remember that toy you desired above all else but never found under the tree? We're about to venture on a journey that explores the art of waiting, the disappointment that sometimes accompanies it, and ultimately, the divine purpose that unfolds in God's perfect timing. We'll take a deep look into Luke's gospel, and the Christmas story that we all know, to drive home these life-altering insights.
We've all experienced a Zechariah and Elizabeth moment - a time of waiting, a period of questioning, a season of disbelief. Their story, marked by infertility and an angelic encounter, is a powerful testament to God's fidelity even in our seasons of doubt. We explore how their waiting period, much like ours, was not a punishment but a divine orchestration leading to the fulfillment of a divine promise. This story acts as a mirror, reflecting our own doubts, disappointments, and ultimate triumphs in the face of adversity.
Finally, we'll explore how to actively seek God during our waiting seasons. We're not just talking about biding our time; we're talking about a waiting that cultivates patience, resilience, and an unwavering faith. Remember, waiting isn't a stagnant state, it's a transformative process that fosters growth. So, whether you're waiting for a job, a partner, or a breakthrough, join us in understanding that waiting is not just about what we get at the end, but who we become in the process. Listen in, and let's learn to trust in God's timing together.
If you enjoyed this episode, consider subscribing to Madison Church on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback means the world to us, so please take a moment to leave a review and share the podcast with your friends and family.
For inquiries, suggestions, or collaboration opportunities, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
For the latest updates and behind-the-scenes content, follow us on social media:
New episodes are released every Monday, so mark your calendars and join us weekly!
If you'd like to support the show, you can make a donation here. Your generosity helps us continue to bring you meaningful content.
Thank you for being part of the Madison Church community! We appreciate your support.
Welcome to Madison Church Online. My name is Stephen Feith, I'm Lee Pastor here and we're so glad that you're joining us online and hope that you'll make a point to visit us in person soon. Today is the second part of our Advent series, called Christmas, according to Luke. Throughout this study, we are getting into the Christmas story. As with all of our teaching series at Madison Church, we're going beyond information acquisition. We want to take a deep dive into Luke's gospel over the next month and a half so that we'll experience life transformation. Luke's gospel unfolds the story of Jesus, emphasizing his actions, his purpose and the way he prepared his disciples. It resonates with our community in Madison, wisconsin, addressing the concerns that well educated and well-to-do people, many like you and myself, who are seeking confirmation of our faith. They wanted to know back then, just as you and I want to know right now, if Jesus was and is who he claimed to be, and if Jesus did the things that his followers claimed that he did. Luke meticulously documented Jesus's life, crafting a gospel which was marked by Jesus's profound compassion, particularly for outcasts and the religiously unfit, the poor and women. Last week, we explored Luke's commitment to accuracy, which was shaped by his travels with Paul, but also firsthand sources such as the Gospel of Mark and interviews with those who had walked and followed Jesus himself. His commitment to accuracy served a very clear purpose he wanted to show theophilus, who we was writing 2000s of years ago, the truth and reliability and what he heard. According to Luke, jesus is who he claimed to be and did the things that the disciples claimed that he did. You don't have to take their word for it. Luke went and investigated it for you. As we're continuing this series, we're going to continue to get further into Luke's Gospel, but we started off with week one saying can we even trust Luke's Gospel? Then we took the full scope of other religious documents and said how does Luke's Gospel, or even the New Testament, shape up and stack up against these other faiths of the world in their religious texts? What we came to find out was that the Bible honestly stands alone. It stands alone in having more original copies and documents closer to the era in which they occurred and have been preserved meticulously throughout the years. Now, today, our focus shifts from can we trust Luke and Luke's just getting started to a passage which explores a theme that I think many of us can relate to. It's a theme of how do you be faithful while waiting and what God can do when we wait faithfully. If you want to follow along, at home, we're going to be studying from Luke, chapter one, verses five through 25. Waiting faithfully is a universal experience. Anyone watching or listening right now you know what it's like to have to wait for something, especially this time of year. I don't know if you remember being a kid in the agony that came with waiting this time of year. It felt like an eternity for me, growing up, as we're counting down the days until Christmas. It was anticipation, it was excitement, it was just each moment stretched out endlessly as we hoped to get to the big day. And what happened on the big day? Right, we were hoping for presents, the gifts, the things that we wanted, because when you're a kid, you could take or leave the nice dinner, you could take or leave all the family visiting, but you wanted those items that were on your wish list. And so when the big day finally arrived, you're so excited and perhaps you can remember those Christmases where you tear into everything and you open up all of your presents and you got everything you wished for. I can remember one Christmas I got both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sewer lair play set and the Megazord from the Power Rangers. I mean, this was the most memorable and incredible Christmas I ever had during my childhood. I got my favorite toys from my favorite shows. I was just elated. It's great when you've waited faithfully and you get the things you wanted. And if you're watching or listening online, go ahead and jot in the comments If you can remember what that toy was or that game was growing up that you just had to have and you got it. But we also know that that's not how it always goes, right. I'm sure that for every Christmas you can remember opening the item that you wanted so badly. You can remember a Christmas in which you opened up all of the items and you didn't get that one thing that you really wanted and instead of feeling joy, you were just felt disappointment. You were covered in disappointment. That's all you felt. Can you recall today I bet a lot of you can that one gift you wanted as a kid that you just never got? I certainly can. For years I asked for the Dragon Zord toy from the Power Rangers. I mean, yes, I already had the Megazord, but the Green Ranger was my favorite and the Dragon Zord was the Green Ranger's Zord. I just had to have it and I can remember between Christmas Christmas was over I didn't get it. I can remember being a little kid and praying that God would give me this toy, that I would just wake up and it would be right there in my room. And I remember promising to God if you just put this toy here to be like our little secret, I won't tell anybody and they won't know where I got it from, but God, you and I will know. And I remember trying to make deals with God that this toy would be there. But the toy never came. God didn't magically deliver it to me and a couple birthdays came and went and a couple Christmases came and went and I never got that Dragon Zord toy. My waiting ended in disappointment until I no longer cared about getting the toy. I grew out of my Power Rangers phase and eventually grew out of my having toys and having fun with toys phase. And I'm sure you can relate the waiting, the hoping, the eventual let down. It's a situation etched in the memories of the Dragon Zord, the memories of all of us. We know that waiting isn't always rewarded. We know that just because you wait doesn't mean you're going to get the things you so desperately want. We know that waiting is often accompanied by feelings of deep disappointment, and today we're no longer children's with hearts full of holiday dreams, but as adults, we still find ourselves waiting for the things we want the most. You might be waiting for that dream job, the raise or the promotion, the position that you want. You might be waiting right now for the perfect relationship and okay, maybe not the perfect relationship. You know that's not realistic, but you would like something more ideal than the people you've been with in the past and the relationships you've had in the past. So you're waiting for a person, for a relationship. You might be waiting for financial stability or moment of personal triumph. And how do you feel in the meantime? Is it that hope and anticipation we felt as a child waiting for Christmas, or is it frustration and disappointment in the meantime, much like the Christmas mornings of our childhood when we didn't get the things we wanted the most? The reality that is that sometimes life falls short of our expectations. What we hope happens doesn't happen, and that space between our expectations and reality is disappointment. It's feelings of disappointment. Waiting faithfully and dealing with disappointment is not a unique experience to you and me living in Madison or in the United States or in the world in 2023. People for centuries have felt this same thing that you and I are feeling today, and Luke writes about two of them in this next passage in his gospel. We're going to learn about Elizabeth and Zechariah and so, beginning in verse five, we read when Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order Abijah and his wife, elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in the eyes of God, careful to obey all of God's commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive and they were both very old. The first thing that Luke does after verses one, two, three and four, which we talked about last week and he establishes kind of his historical reliability he does date this part of the story and says that Herod is king of Judea, which has been verified by different details and histories and archaeological findings. So we know that there was a king named Herod over Judea in the years 37 through four BCE. Now, during this time, zechariah and Elizabeth are introduced as living. They're right there. He's a priest, he's one of the most really righteous people. Luke goes out of his way to say that. They're examples of righteousness, that Herod faithfully to God's commandments. They did all of the things they're supposed to do, and maybe more importantly to them was that they didn't do the things they weren't supposed to do. And yet they were childless and the circumstances were deeply distressing back in that society. It was distressing from a societal standpoint as well as an economical standpoint, because not having a child meant that they would have a lack of support as they grew older. As they grew older, there weren't these social systems and structures that we have today to take care of elderly people who maybe don't have kids. In that society, your kids took care of you, and if you didn't have kids, nobody would take care of you as you got older. But maybe even more importantly than just having someone take care of you, there's this life then that you live of, kind of being ashamed of yourself, because not being able to have kids in that society was perceived as divine punishment for sin. The reason Elizabeth couldn't have kids how the people around them would see this, the reason that she couldn't have kids was she must have done something wrong and God is punishing her. And this blame was disproportionately put on the woman and not the man. As a matter of fact, this goes so far in the man's favor that cultural norms allowed the husband to divorce his wife, to abandon her and remarry somebody who could have a baby, leaving the other woman, who can't have a baby, marked in that society. So not only would she not have kids, but she probably wouldn't find another spouse. She'd have to go back home and live with her father's family To compound their plight. Zechariah and Elizabeth faced this hardship not only in their youth, but Luke mentions they're now old and scholars then speculate they're probably in their 60s. So not only were Zechariah and Elizabeth faithful in their youth and still didn't have any children, maybe the hope that if we say faithful, if we keep doing the right things, if we don't do the wrong things, god will bless us, but that had faded at this point. At this point they knew biologically there wasn't an option for them to have a child. They're old now and they can't have children. And yet we read they continue to be righteous, they continue to be faithful, they continue to do the things that God wants them to do, and so, as you can imagine, every day waking up and every night going to bed, there just has to be the reality of disappointment all around them. Luke paints a portrait of an impossible situation. They're faithful and yet they weren't blessed. They're old and now it doesn't seem like there are any options left. And what Luke wants to do, after establishing his credibility, which we talked about again last week, after that, luke is trying to evoke emotion out of you and out of me, out of readers. He wants us to have empathy. He wants us to feel anger or for sadness, and a lot of us can, and perhaps for you, it is that you've wanted a child yourself and you haven't been able to conceive for a lot of reasons, and so you can relate deeply on a personal level that you don't want to with Elizabeth and Zechariah, but if not, that there are other things that you want and you can relate to. You're like God. I'm doing the right things, god. I'm trying to do the right things, god. I'm trying not to do these things that I shouldn't do. I'm trying to be faithful, and yet I'm so disappointed that it's not happening. See, luke invites you and me to move beyond our headspace, move beyond just thinking about Zechariah and Elizabeth and move beyond this story to feeling for them as we continue this story. Luke wants your heart in this, not just your head. We continue to read one day Zechariah was serving God in the temple for his order was on duty. That week, as was the custom of the priest, he was chosen by Lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside praying. Zechariah, we read, gets chosen to go inside the kind of the holiest of holies, the furthest room in the temple, to burn the incense. For this year, the selection process involved casting lots, because there were so many priests that they wouldn't all get to do it over the course of their life. And so, by casting lots, this was kind of like viewed as God was choosing who would be the one to enter the sanctuary that year. And so Zechariah, in this particular year, finds himself with the extraordinary honor of being as close to the presence of God as anyone could get. They believe that what God was out there, yeah, sure, but it was in this temple and it was in this deepest part of the temple that you could experience God's presence the most. And this moment would have undoubtedly been the pinnacle of his priestly career, and it makes what kind of happens next even more remarkable. While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said do not be afraid, zechariah. God has heard your prayer. God has heard your prayer. Your wife, elizabeth, will give you a son and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth and he will turn many Israelites to the Lord, their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah and he will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly. So Zechariah is having this moment. He's where he's never been before. He's somewhere he'll never be again. He's in the presence of God or in as much as possible here on earth he is. When all sudden, an angel appears and we've talked about angels before and they're not white, sparkly baby faced with wings, they're actually what we understand. Biblical angels are terrifying and Zechariah is shaken to his core. And the angel says don't be afraid. As if that helps Zechariah, but it seems to calm him down enough so that the angel can continue to tell him what's going to happen. The angel says, zechariah, your wife Elizabeth is going to have a son. You are to name him John, and he will have a significant purpose here on earth. This child, john, will be set apart and filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring joy not just to you and Elizabeth, zechariah, but John will bring joy beyond your family. He will bring joy beyond your family because his mission involves turning many Israelites to God and preparing the way for the Messiah, announcing that Jesus is not just coming, but he is among them now. This divine announcement unveils John's extraordinary purpose and kind of highlights God's intricate plan in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth. It's not only have they not, you know, they haven't been able to have kids all of these years and they thought maybe God had forgotten about them. They remain faithful and the angel comes to them and says no, it's not that God has forgotten you, but God has this plan and this plan fits in history. This plan fits within a certain time. These things had to happen now and not 20 years ago, because 20 years ago, if John came, there'd be nothing really to announce at this point. But it's right now, in this ideal timing, that you and Elizabeth will have a son, and because of this ideal timing, john's purpose is going to be so significant and there's not a parent in the world who we love our kids for who they are and we're proud of them, no matter what they do for the most part. But there is something that if an angel comes and says, you know not only that you're going to love him because he's your son, you're going to be proud of him, no matter what he does. But he's going to have significant purpose and as a parent, that would have just filled Zechariah and Elizabeth you would think with just a little bit more joy and a little bit more like ah, this was worth waiting for. How does Zechariah respond? He says to the angel how could I be sure this will happen? I don't know, if you notice, I'm an old man now and my wife is also well along in years. Zechariah is scared to call Elizabeth old, even though she's nowhere near him. Right, he says I'm an old man and my wife is too, not old, but she's also older. The first thing we might think is that, like well one, you shouldn't be calling your wife old. Okay, there you go, but we're moving beyond that. You might be surprised that Zechariah somebody who is faithful, someone who is a priest, somebody who's in the holiest of holies finds himself questioning God. But that's not a problem. We see people all over the Old Testament, and in the New Testament as well, question God. They wrestle without, they wrestle with skepticism. They ask for reassurance. People like Abraham did it, people like Gideon did it. All sorts of people from the Old Testament did it and they sought signs in the face of their problems. However, this is a little different, as we're gonna talk about. What sets Zechariah's question apart from the others is that his stems from disbelief. How do we know that it stems from disbelief? Because next week, when Sarah comes to talk to us, she's gonna talk about Mary asking the same question and the angel respond. The angel Gabriel responds completely different than Zechariah. We see in the Old Testament, when these questions are asked, that the angel responds completely different. Why would an angel respond differently? Now, motive why are you asking the question that you're asking? Zechariah didn't have skepticism about it. Zechariah didn't doubt that God could do it. This was flat out disbelief. Zechariah's saying I'm old, my wife's old. This is impossible. And despite a lifetime of unwavering faithfulness, god has not fulfilled his promises to Zechariah. Now, when God comes to him and says I'm going to, zechariah has a moment of kind of this unfaithfulness, this disbelief that God can do something he deems impossible. The angel provides a significant reply. Now Gabriel says I am Gabriel. I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news. But now, since you didn't believe what I said see there it is. Since you didn't believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born, for my words will certainly be fulfilled at this proper time. Gabriel claps back a little bit. He says okay, zechariah, hold on a second. For one time in your entire life, you get to be here in the presence of God. And Gabriel says I stand in the presence of God pretty much every moment of every day. So you get this one moment in here and I'm with God all the time. And it's actually God who I stand by, who has sent me to you. You have no reason to doubt me. So when Zechariah has this extraordinary chance that's once in a lifetime he's to stand closely God it still falls short in the proximity that Gabriel the angel gets with God. Regularly, gabriel makes it clear that it's not him who's telling Zechariah this, but that it was God himself, and as a consequence of Zechariah's disbelief, the angel imposes silence upon him. Essentially, gabriel says okay, I tell you what. Just be quiet and watch what God does. This isn't permanent. We know Zechariah will get his speech back at a later point, but in the meantime, the angel says okay, you're a faithful guy, you're having a moment right now. Just be quiet, soak this in and watch what God is doing. We need to recognize that this text that we're reading reflects a specific cultural and historical context that is very different than our own In our modern times and our contemporary understanding. It's crucial for you and I to acknowledge briefly here that speech-related conditions or disabilities do not indicate a person's faithfulness or spiritual standing. The angel tells Zechariah God's promise will unfold nonetheless. Zechariah, you don't believe, that's all right. You be quiet and watch what God is going to do. But God is still gonna answer this prayer that you and Elizabeth have had, despite your lack of belief. Luke goes on and says when Zechariah's week of service on the temple was over, he returned home Soon. Afterwards. His wife, elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. How kind the Lord is, she exclaimed. He has taken away my disgrace of having no children. So again in that century and in that context, elizabeth, as a woman who was unable to conceive, would have been unfairly stigmatized and regarded as a failure. The inability for her to have children was seen as a significant disgrace in order to cast a shadow over her purpose. I mean having kids and being a woman in that society, as it still is in some places in our society, was seen as like the purpose. You're a woman, you have to have kids, and this was just so strong and so that she would have gone her whole life thinking what is my purpose? And nevertheless, she endured a life marked by waiting and she remained faithful. At some point she embraced her circumstances. She said I'm never gonna have children, I don't know what my purpose is, but I'm still gonna be faithful to God. She chooses to serve God wholeheartedly, despite the potential, and I think a lot of us would be not just understanding. We definitely wouldn't blame her if she chose to blame God. Her response to God's fulfillment of his promise starkly contrasts her husband, zechariah is disbelief. How's this gonna happen? We're old, it can't happen, get out of here. In this instance, elizabeth chooses to worship. God says I'm gonna reveal, I'm gonna do this. Here's my promise to you you're gonna get pregnant. And Elizabeth isn't disbelieving, but instead she's filled with joy and she worships. This is the first of many instances in Luke's gospel where he is gonna highlight a woman as the recipient of God's favor and as a powerful model of unwavering faithfulness, in contrast with a man who had less faith and was less faithful. Elizabeth's journey from waiting in apparent disgrace to rejoining in God's kindness is a testament to faithful endurance and that transformative power. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth encapsulates the tension that you and I faced today between waiting faithfully and the eventual fulfillment of God's promises. Despite societal stigmas and personal disappointments, elizabeth's unwavering faith and patient waiting led to the joyous realization of God's kindness. And God didn't just answer their prayer a little bit. He blesses them with a child who has substantial purpose here on earth. God did not waste their weight. God did not waste their weight. Instead, he gave them a child named John, who would play a crucial role in the life and ministry of Jesus. Now, I shared kind of at the beginning that as a child I really wanted this Dragon's Orb toy and at some point I did stop caring about it. And then later in 2015, almost 10 years ago now, a limited edition of the Dragon's Orb released to Toys R Us and my parents got it for me Christmas, 20 years after I really wanted it. Now I'll be honest with you the seven year old me would have been way more excited about getting the Dragon's Orb than the 27 year old me was. But that toy, that Dragon's Orb toy, sits on my bookshelf right when you walk into our house to see my bookshelf and at the top of it you'll see that Dragon's Orb toy. And what that serves as now is a reminder of waiting patiently and faithfully for God to answer his promises and to answer our prayers. In this case, I waited 20 years. For what amount, so pretty significant, insignificant toy. But there have been other things that Megan and I and our family have prayed for and wanted for years. For example, our house. When we moved to Madison we wanted to buy a house a year after we moved here and then just the money wasn't there. And then, when the money was there, our credit scores weren't there and we had our church, we had elders and our small groups praying for years and years and years that we would be able to buy a house. We want to live here, we love the city of Madison, we feel called to be here, we feel like we have purpose and work to do here and we wanted to buy a house, we wanted to establish roots here and it just something kept getting in the way. It wasn't that we didn't want to be here, it was that we didn't have the money or we didn't have the credit scores. And then the pandemic hits. We start getting these really large stimulus checks. Thankfully, megan and I were continued and able to work through the pandemic. We never stopped working. So we took this money, knowing we really wanted a house and we just saved it and we saved it and we saved it and throughout the pandemic, saving money, and our credit scores rose to the point where we were approved that we could buy a house in Madison and if you remember 2021, we're looking around at houses. You'd get the email on Wednesday. These are the six houses that you can afford. They're going on the market this weekend. Decide which ones you want to look through. You'd walk through them Saturday and Sunday you and everyone else who could afford the house and then they wanted offers in by Sunday night and they would let you know by Monday morning if it was approved. We were kept being told by everyone this is the worst time to buy a house and I'll be honest with you. We had waited for so long I mean, this was now six or seven years of being in Madison, where we had waited, and we were kind of wondering God, why now? God, why now with the money? God, why now with the credit score? Was this just coincidence, is what we began to ask. But we believed God did this for a reason God was working in and around us. And then what ended up happening is we found a house that we liked. It ended up being the cheapest house we looked at, but also the biggest house and also the largest property. We put an offer in what was just asking price and they approved it. We were shocked and it is a fixed me upper, but I kind of enjoy that work anyway. And so throughout the last couple of years we've been doing little additions and tweaks to it and the market continues to rise in houses. And I recently asked a friend who does real estate. I said could you just run my numbers? Like, what would you list my house for now If you were to list it? We're just gonna put it on the market today. And he looked at some things and compared some things and he said I would list your house at almost double what we paid for it a few years ago. And so when we turned around and we did the math, we saw that our house has increased value over $5,000 a month since we moved in, which is just remarkable for Megan and I. And we look back now and we say look at all those years of waiting and praying and trying to be faithful, and even when the prayer was answered it didn't quite seem like God was doing a great job. And now we look back at that moment and say, wow, that was remarkable. But it isn't all always good because at the same time, since we've moved here, we've prayed that Megan gets a teaching job in the public school district and that prayer has yet to be answered. And yet, although we're disappointed and we're asking questions as to why, we continue to pray and we're trying to be faithful, but we are dealing with disappointment. Waiting and dealing with disappointment they're inevitable aspects of our life. It affects me, it affects you. Experiencing disappointment and questioning God's plan doesn't indicate a lack of faith. Elizabeth and Zechariah, despite their faithfulness, faced unfulfilled desires. You might be in a waiting season, not because you did anything wrong, but because you're doing something right. God might have been able to give you what you wanted already, but he knows he's going to give you what you want later, and it's going to be even better or even greater, or perhaps it's something that you really don't want. But what I'm trying to communicate to you now is that it doesn't always have to do with punishment. I think a lot of times when we're forced to wait or we have to wait, we think I must have done something wrong. We must have done something wrong, we must be outside of God's will, and I just want to say right now that's not always the case. Read this story in Luke, if you have to. Zechariah and Elizabeth lived an entire life of doing the right things and not doing the wrong things, and yet they still had to wait. And even when Zechariah had disbelief and maybe you find yourself today disbelieving I want to point out that God still fulfilled His promise, because whether or not God fulfills His promise isn't based on whether or what I do. It's based on who he is the promise maker and the promise keeper. Now we do get to this point, though, where I'm not saying the choices that we make aren't important. The choices we make are incredibly important, and while you find yourself in a season of waiting for whatever that thing is, we have the choice to make that we're going to let our situation or circumstances push us closer to God or pull us away from Him. Whatever you're going through can be the reason you get closer to God or can be the reason you go further from God, and the choice is completely and solely up to you. Let's go back to some of those examples earlier. Maybe you're waiting for a job, the raise and the promotion. The choice you have is you can remain faithful in your current role. Continue to do a good job. Thank God that you're in the position that you're in and focus on what God is doing in and around you in this current stage of life, or you can choose to succumb to discontentment. You can get pissed off at God for not moving you up and just be discontent. The choice am I going to move further away from God or closer, based on my situation. When you're waiting for a relationship, you can choose to get closer to God by exploring what God is doing in your life and around your life and how he is preparing you for your future partner or spouse. Or you can doubt that God cares about you or that God cares about your desires, that God is doing anything in your life. You can let the season of waiting for a relationship draw you closer to God or push you further from Him. When waiting for a financial breakthrough, you can draw near to God by developing good financial habits, being faithful with what little bit you do have and by practicing generosity. Or you can be upset with God, get bitter with God for what you lack. Why does everyone else have more than me? God doesn't care for me. I have bitterness toward God. I'm not going to be generous. Look how little I have. I'm not going to do faithfulness with what little I have. When God gives me more, I'll be faithful. We have choices to make in all of these situations. Am I going to let my situation draw me closer to God or push me further away from Him? Actively seeking God in every circumstance is a powerful approach to navigating waiting seasons. I know personally it's difficult to go through these seasons of waiting, especially long seasons of waiting, and in Zechariah and Elizabeth's case this was decades and decades of waiting. But if you find yourself in this position, consider Pastor Kregler-Shell's words Waiting season is never a wasted season. Sometimes God may want to do something in you before he does something for you. In the grand narrative of our lives, from birth until death, waiting is not a detour, but it's a critical aspect of our journey. A critical part of our journey. There's an invitation to draw near to God in the waiting, to deepen our trust in God and to align our desires with His perfect timing. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth illuminates the truth that even in seemingly impossible circumstances, god's promises prevail. Their waiting season, marked by disappointment and even disbelief, ended with the birth of the one who would declare the arrival of God's Messiah. As we navigate our waiting seasons, we need to recognize the inherent value in the process. Waiting is not an idle state but part of our transformative journey, a classroom where patience and resiliency and trust are cultivated. Hold on to the assurance today that God is at work, fashioning a beautiful story out of every moment, including your waiting.