We all love these kinds of stories because they give us the hope that maybe, just maybe, things like this really do happen to people like us. Some people grow cynical and just doubt that anything good will happen quoting Murphy's law at every turn. Others sit and sigh as if something impossibly good is a far off dream they will find sometime in the retirement years. We all face impossibilities in life. Those who work hard for little money think it impossible that their circumstances will improve. Some with chronic illnesses or conditions resign themselves to accept that this is just something they will have to learn to live with. People with wayward children or loved ones find faith fleeting in what seems obvious to them, that those for whom they pray will never be saved because the situations keep getting worse and worse. Others, and probably most, don't even dare to think that they could do something significant for God with their life.
In looking at what scripture has to say about impossibilities I find two camps of people. There is the Zacharius camp who when told that a miracle is on the horizon says in a doubting tone, "how will I know this for certain?" I'm sure for the next 9 months, he'd wished that he had just believed what the angel said because he was unable to speak. Now you may be thinking "seriously, how would he not know for certain? When his wife's belly started ballooning out, that was a pretty good indicator that she was pregnant. For heaven's sake, an angel appeared to him and told him this! Why didn't he just believe?"
-Perhaps because he was old and experienced and knew what life had shown him, it was just too hard to accept.
-Maybe it was because God had done nothing supernatural in Israel in the past 400 years. Generation upon generation had lived without any witness that God was even alive and well.
-Perhaps, after living with a woman who had desperately desired children to ease her shame in society and fulfill that inbuilt desire to produce an heir and give a mother's love, he thought that he had just gone over the edge. Surely he loved his wife and was grieved at her pain all those years. I don't know, but for whatever reason, he doubted if the word spoken to him was possible.
A few months later, the angel once again visited a small town where a young maiden named Mary lived. Again, he delivered the message that the impossible was going to happen to her. Her response was much the same as Zacharius'. Scripture tells us that, like Zacharius, she was perplexed and afraid. She even asked the same question. "How can this be since I am a virgin?"
Both were told that something humanly impossible was possible, even a certainty. Yet their reactions were totally different. Perhaps Mary had a bit of innocence on her side. She was practically still a child who dared to dream, whose life had not hardened her through it's twists and turns. Perhaps believing came a little easier for her. She had not spent a lifetime in the temple serving a seemingly muted God. Perhaps she had dedicated her life to remaining tender before the Lord.
Zacharius had spent his life in the temple performing religious duties as prescribed by the law. I believe that he loved the Lord and was a man of God, otherwise God would not have chosen him to father John the Baptist, but maybe the reality of what he had experienced, or had failed to experience in God had made him just a little cynical. Maybe the promise of a Messiah just seemed like a far off event that he believed would happen but that he probably wouldn't see. And maybe he wondered why, when he had devoted his entire life to God's service, that he and his wife were childless. Maybe the realities of life had dulled his spiritual senses and clouded his ability to dream and believe. I'm not making excuses for Zacharius, but in thinking about these things I had to honestly look at where he had been and what he had probably experienced because let's face it, sometimes faith is hard to find when life is screaming in your face.
Zacharius questioned the "if" of the impossibility, while Mary questioned the "how." She never doubted the Word of the Lord. She only knew that something outside of the realm of the natural would have to take place in order for it to happen. Zacharius knew this too, but based on past experience, seriously wondered if it were even possible.
Now, let's bring this home. The human condition has not changed. We probably aren't hearing from angels concerning some great event that is about to happen but we do have the Word of the Lord concerning our lives. Have you read what He has said about your life? Do you know and understand the good things that God has prepared for you to do, the kind of person that He has provided for you to be, and do you comprehend that it is His power that will bring those things to pass, that something outside of the realm of the natural can and will have to take place in order for them to happen? And what is your response to God? Are you like Zacharius doubting the "if", or are you like Mary questioning the "how"?
Jesus said "the things that are impossible with man are possible with God." Luke 18:27 Everything that God has spoken about our lives is possible, even when they are impossible. Do you realize that it only takes one second for everything in life to change? In just one moment, the sick are healed. In just one moment, a person is transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. You may go to bed a poor man and find when you wake in the morning that someone has left you a fortune as an inheritance. Don't believe it could happen to you? That's one reason it hasn't! I could say to you, "for heaven's sake, the Word of God appeared and told you this! Why don't you just believe?"
What seemingly impossible things are you facing in life? What has God said in His Word concerning them? What are you going to do about it? Jesus said "only believe." That's our part! It's not as hard as it seems! For one thing, the power to believe does not come from us. It comes through and by the Holy Spirit. And we have His Word! If He said it, and we believe it, He will bring it to pass! I wonder how much we are missing out on because we choose to live like Zacharius, believing that things can happen and even that they will, but never believing that they will happen to us? Perhaps life has taught you a few choice lessons. Perhaps experience has hardened you. Perhaps the thing you need is just too big for you to wrap your brain around. Then stop! Wrap faith around that thing! Seek God for faith. Say, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!" And then "only believe." God means for us to experience more than just the occasional missionary story about a miracle. He means for us to experience him every day, in a tangible way! He is going to and fro looking for someone that will believe Him so that He can show forth His power. You know, God really is a show off. He loves to do stuff to WOW you! Will you let him? Will you believe that your life is not set in stone? Will you allow God to invade the common-ness of what we experience everyday and do something extraordinary? He is able. He wants to. And He will if you let him. "With God, all things are possible."