For the next week I am going to try to live without speaking….
A priest, a holy and righteous man who by all accounts has served God faithfully for many years. But even that was not enough to earn from God what they wanted most….a child. Now they were old, and the desire that burned so bright early in their lives still remained an ember in their hearts.
He’s in the temple of the Lord when the angel, Gabriel, stands before him talking about answered prayers and joy and wine and the Holy Spirit. Amidst the shock and awe of the announcement Zechariah makes out that his wife, Elizabeth, will have a baby boy.
“How can I be sure of this? For I am an old man; my wife too is….well on in years.”
I guess it’s one thing to stand in the presence of God on behalf of others, and something altogether different to have God come to you with an answer to your own prayers and longings.
“I’m Gabriel! I stand in the presence of God and He sent me to tell you the good news.”
As if that wasn’t enough, the Angel informs Zechariah that because he did not believe, he would be unable to speak until the day His Son is born.
In our typical way of reading the bible, we pass by this silence quickly, we still have the story of Jesus’ birth to get to, and besides, Zechariah speaks again before the chapter is over!
But 9 months….9 months of silence….don’t move too quickly past this point. Zechariah stops speaking (vs. 18) with the words, “How can I be sure of this?” and 9 months later, He starts speaking again with the words, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and redeemed His people.” (vs. 68)
I’ve often thought of this silence as simply a punishment for his unbelief. But maybe there is more to learn in silence than we ever could by speaking.
So, to experience in a very small way the silence of Zechariah, I have decided to stop speaking for one week, beginning tonight, Monday, December 16.
I know, there are all sorts of questions that come with being silent for a week:
How will you deal with work? What if there is an emergency? How do you interact with three young children?
What if you’re in the upstairs bathroom and you run out of toilet paper? (I actually had not thought about that until my Wife mentioned it)
These are all good questions, and I suppose I will figure it out as I go (that was not a bathroom joke).
You can join me on this week of silence by checking my blog each day for complete updates and observations.
To listen to a message from my Pastor (Brad Hoffmann) on this story, click here.