Tag: Elizabeth

3 Crucial Questions Elizabeth May Have Asked

The sun is setting outside the sanctuary windows. I work hard to be present – to continue listening as a friend in the pew speaks to me before evening worship starts. I pray silently that she doesn’t see the tears that threaten to expose my emotional response to what she is saying. It’s stupid.

“I’m over this,” I scold myself. “I’ve been over this for years!”. The little stab of pain surprises me in the way a driver cutting you off in traffic catches you off guard.

My friend is rhapsodizing about another woman. A wonderful, talented, godly, beautiful woman who I too, cheer for. Over and over, my friend says, “She’s just SO GOOD! She’s just SO GIFTED!”

99% of the time I would just happily agree, but this evening, in this setting, where others are validated with titles and pay-checks, the Evil One translates “good” and “gifted” to “chosen where you’re not good enough”, “important where you’re not“. The words aren’t true, but they bump into a wound that makes them feel true. The wound has healed over with much prayer and attention, but there’s a scar, and in the right circumstances it can surprise me with a leftover ache.

I’m still trying to brush away the feelings of inadequacy as we sing the opening praise song. “Let the King of my heart be the shadow where I hide.”

Yes, Lord, help me to hide in You, in Your place for me, in Your words about me, in Your story.

Can any of you relate to this? Are there times when emotion – pain, fear, envy, resentment – knock you upside the head without warning?

This morning I was reading Luke 1… about Elizabeth, who, with a wound of infertility, accepted her supporting role for other characters who in turn pointed to Jesus as the main character. She was a cheerleader for Mary – the one who got pregnant with the Messiah without even trying. And mother to John the Baptist, odd desert-dweller, announcing the main event.

Maybe Satan whispered in Elizabeth’s ear,  You’re not important like her! Child-bearing came easy for her because she’s SPECIAL and you’re not! You’re just an ‘also ran’. Her kid will be perfect. Yours just a bug-eater”

And yet Elizabeth was humble and affirming of Mary.

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true! Luke 1:42-45

Maybe there were times when Elizabeth’s scar ached in Mary’s presence. But I think it was because she knew it wasn’t about her OR about Mary that she had this godly perspective. It’s about Jesus. Always about Jesus.

It’s not about you. Or me.

But I wonder, did Elizabeth ever need to step back, be still, and ask:

  • Where is this pain coming from?
  • What is true? What does GOD say?
  • Who’s the hero of my story?

God’s provision is often different from what we envision. Sometimes we forget the most important thing – He’s the author and main character in the Grand Story of redemption.

Today, can we be thankful we get to be supporting characters?

Who’s Your Birthing Coach?

Last night the candles were lit, yummy bakey smells wafted room to room,  the twinkle lights were doing their twinkling, and my house was filled with girlfriends I love.

Read: it was lovely, loud, laughy, and there were lots of words!

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Studies say that women average 20,00 words a day – 13,000 more than men. Last night I think we skewed that average high.

Think about when you get together with your best friends – talking over each other, finishing each other’s sentences, laughing at shared experiences…

This is how I imagine the meeting between the newly pregnant Mary and the last trimester Elizabeth.

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Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,

Picture the hills. The first time I visited I was surprised at how steep and hilly this area is, and I was surprised at the pine trees. Did Mary run? Was she out of breath? Sweaty? Did they hug and start talking immediately?

If I had written this next part of the Bible I’d put in a lot more exclamation points! 🙂

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true! Luke 1;39-45

What an unlikely pair – an unwed pregnant teenager, carrying Jesus, and an old, post-menopausal woman carrying John the baptist!

I love it that these two women visited during what was probably the hardest trimester for each of them. I can hear them peppering each other with questions…

Can you even? You? Me? Us??!

Have you had morning sickness? Want to sleep all the time?

Have you felt him kick?

How has your family reacted? What about Joseph? How are you holding up?

(And just imagine Zacharias in the corner, unable to speak at all!)*

Here are two faithful, amazing women through whom God is birthing something new. Something beautiful for the world.  And He gives them to each other, almost like birthing coaches.

This is you too. Whether you’re a mom or not God is birthing something beautiful through you. The labor and delivery can be hard, but He gives us to each other.

As I looked around at the women last night I thought how often they have encouraged me to breathe,

or to hang on,

or have said “Me too” at just the right time.

Who are the women in your life who are birth coaches, affirming the beauty that God is growing in you?

*Luke 1:20

You are Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a woman in 1st century Israel. Strike one.

Elizabeth is old. Strike two.

Elizabeth is infertile. Strike three.

Elizabeth experiences the death of a dream to be a mom, to be valued among her family and friends.

And then when God miraculously blesses her with a child, it’s not one who we might imagine to be the straight A, class president, organize of “Meet me at the Pole” prayer day. He’s a weird loner who eats bugs, doesn’t marry, and is beheaded as a young man.

You and I are Elizabeth.

We have things about us that make us feel “less than”. We’ve experienced the death of a dream. Or two.

Here’s the thing about Elizabeth and dreams and us.

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For years, Elizabeth held her dreams with one open hand, but clung to God with the other. 

The challenge for me each day is to hold my dreams in one open hand, while clinging to God with the other.

Our faith is in the character of our God, not the conditions of our day-to-day life.

Might we pray with one open hand, telling God about our dreams and relinquishing them to Him to refine or change as He will? 

And pray with one clinging hand, reciting all about God that we trust in – His goodness, His presence, His strength, His mercy…?

When is Your Zero Dark Thirty?

This morning I walked outside in the winter cold at zero dark thirty and looked up to see a partial moon and a few fragile stars clinging to the night.  It struck me that looking up is always the holiest part of my day.  I spend so much time looking down, mired in the minutia, pondering problems without the perspective of Power.  Looking up reminds me to bow down.  It made me think of this post from last year…

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding? Continue reading

Pregnant, part 3

This week I’m thinking about Mary and three spiritual practices that may help us prepare for Christmas.  You can read the first in the series here  and here if you want.

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding?

Continue reading

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