Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Legacies and Crushed Dreams

Legacies and Crushed Dreams

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years” (Luke 1:5-7 – King James Version).

Rarely do things turn out like we want or think they should. When I was thirteen I had three big dreams. I wanted to be a professional baseball player, an army hero and I wanted to be like Jim. Jim was my oldest brother. He was my hero, my protector, and my friend. He was a good ball player in his own right; well, good doesn’t do his abilities justice…he was a fine ball player. Jim also had a notable military career. Both his ball playing and his military career were cut short.

Jim “messed up” in high school; his girlfriend became pregnant. Jim quit school, joined the army and nearly five years later was dead; it was an auto accident. I was thirteen.

Fast forward nine years; I was 22. This was a very surprising thing for me; I never thought I’d be that old. I had been compared to my brother so much (looks wise) that I figured I wouldn’t see my 22nd birthday just like he didn’t. Bad knees, poor eyes, and a less than healthy shoulder saw my baseball dreams flushed down the drain. A drinking problem, a bad attitude and a quick temper ruined my military career. Jim was dead. I was surprised to even be alive. There were no dreams; they’d all been crushed. I felt awfully young to be so empty inside.

I think Zacharias and Elisabeth could have felt my pain. In the days in which they lived, family was important. Women that did not bear children were considered to be out of God’s favor. I would imagine that when those two married they dreamed of family. It seemed, as they were old, that it was not to be…or was it?

Regardless of what happens in our lives we will respond in one of two ways; we will become bitter or better. Bitterness comes when we turn inward. Becoming better happens when we look upwards.

Let’s hit on a few things from this passage. Number one, those WERE tough times to live in Israel. The land was occupied. Judaism was ritual and religion and fraught with internal strife between sects such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In comparison, no one would deny that our world is a mess. There is little trust amongst denominations and little unity within them. Morals have taken a back seat. In Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s case, what was their response? According to the Scripture, “they were both righteous before God.” Why was that? Easy, it was because they obeyed “all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.” How do you react to the circumstances of the times?

Secondly, I’d imagine there were high expectations placed upon Zacharias and Elisabeth. They were both of the priestly tribe of Aaron. Their legacy was to serve God. That’s a lot of pressure. They did though. I believe it may have allowed them to keep their sanity in the midst of broken dreams. Does every Christian family produce Christian children? No! And God has no grandchildren. Each person’s relationship with God is one on One. Zacharias and Elisabeth may have been expected to worship God, but I doubt it was out of duty; rather it was out of love of God. That’s good. I am POSITIVE it sustained them. Can the same be said of you?

Thirdly, if we know anything of broken dreams, we know that sometimes they are mended. Only four of the twenty-four priestly courses are known to have came back from the Babylonian captivity; the course of Abia was not one of those courses (Ezra 2:36-39). God had organized those courses…that was His dream. He did not let it die. Though history does not record how that course came back, it did. Dreams don’t always die. Sometimes they just take a while to materialize. Some do die, but only at God’s pleasure. We can give up on some of our dreams; dreams can change too. We cannot give up on God. It was the same with the dream of parenthood for Zacharias and Elisabeth. They didn’t become bitter. They didn’t give up on God. Have you?

Fourthly, God works past the obvious. Zacharias and Elisabeth were old. So what! God is bigger than our limitations! Do you limit what God can do in your life? Do you let Him do big things in spite of your obvious limitations? Do you EXPECT Him to do just that?

Fifthly, mood and circumstance did not dictate Zacharias’ and Elisabeth’s devotion. They were faithful and found righteous. Are you?

Jim’s daughter is now a beautiful young lady in her early twenties. Jim’s “mess up” sure is pretty! That’s quite a legacy. I am sure none of this fit into Jim’s idea of a legacy, but God worked it out wonderfully. I am pretty sure Zacharias and Elisabeth never imagined there son would be a herald of God. Not a bad ending, huh?

I am not Jim. I am not a ball player. I am not a heroic soldier. Things RARELY turn out like we imagine they will. When God is in it, it’s always better! I am thankful in Christ that I am a child of God and a minister of the Gospel. I have a new dream. I want to see God face to face. I am resolved to live for Him, no matter my circumstances, others’ expectations, or my limitations.

How about you? Have you a dream that has been crushed or crushed you? Respond with righteousness. Look upward. Wait for God’s timing. He may take longer than you think He should. He may even give you a new dream. Will you become bitter or better in the meantime?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've had a lot of dreams that should have been crushed because they were no good for me. I've had some that came true in ways that I'd never have imagined. I'm waiting on some now. The one thing I have learned is that no matter what I "dream" what I need to do is depend on God. Thanks for that devotion.