Instructions Not Included

Did you ever have one of those perfect Christmas mornings?

You know the one I’m talking about: all the presents laid out, the toys you begged all year for set up and already working like Santa snuck in overnight.

If you ever had a Christmas like this, you can guarantee the hours before you awoke were spent by your parents earning their place on the naughty list as they screamed and cursed trying to put your gifts together.

Those toys never seem to be as easy to put together as the instructions make them out to be.

God forbid the instructions were not included. Can you imagine what a disaster that might have been?

Yet that’s just what happened for one family as they were preparing for Christmas. The first Christmas, that is. 

We read a lot every Christmas about the angel visiting Mary. But I think what happens when an angel visits Zechariah, the father of John The Baptist, is just as important.

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth thought they were well beyond the ages of childbirth when a visitor appeared to inform them otherwise:

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

The angel tells the father of the miraculous birth. Being a man of reason, he asks an important question: How?

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” (Luke 1)

Did you notice what just happened? Instead of laying out an instruction plan, the angel sidesteps Zechariah’s question.

The angel answers Zechariah’s question of “How” not by giving step-by-step details but by laying out his authority. His response of, “I am Gabriel,” hearkens back to the answer we typically receive from God when we ask for directions.

God doesn’t always give instructions when we ask how. Instead, He says, “I Am.”

“I Am,” means He Was and He Is and He Always Will Be. It means He is not going anywhere. It means He is present and making things happen in the present.

With that simple authoritative statement, we are called to stop worrying. We are called to stop screaming. We are called to put one foot in front of the other and start marching forward. 

Don’t despair when you shake the box and the instructions don’t fall out. God doesn’t always give us a diagram when He interrupts our lives.

Instead, He reminds us who He is and asks us to trust in what we are capable of when we trust in Him.



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