Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans. But be careful not to laugh at God’s plans for you! Zak & Elizabeth were well on in years with a pensioner bus pass, when angel Gibby told Zak that he and Mrs Zak, unable to have children, were going to have a son called John. Zak totally loses it in laughter. “Whit Man!?” Zak is literally ‘gobsmacked’ by God’s news. Cue a song ‘Yakety-Zak, Don’t Talk Back!’
Poor Zak is shushed for 9 months+, hushed ‘til Elizabeth delivers their baby. And, before folk can suggest family names like MacZak for their new-born, Zak writes “His name is John!” Imagine the surprise when silent Zak suddenly pipes up to speak freely and praise God. That would larn him to laugh at God’s plans. But how easily our faith and trust in God’s best laid plans for us are undermined by worldly cynicism. Or perhaps we react to God’s purpose and promised blessing with a nervous laugh. Are we be afraid of trusting in God’s purpose and plans because they may require serious commitment from us?
Contrast Zak’s unbelieving, cynical or nervous laughter with Mary’s trusting response to angel Gibby’s message that she would bear God’s Son: “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” Sure, there would be heartbreak and sorrow for Mother Mary within the sweep of Jesus birth, life, death, and resurrection, but Mary took one step at a time, trusting that God would work all together for their good.
With the latest surge in people contracting covid, pressure on the NHS, and government announcements about how careful we must be to avoid catching and spreading the virus, each pronouncement is met with growing tension and fear. Here’s where we must be careful to hear God’s Word over and above the ‘din of doom’ and allow God’s Loving promises to displace anxiety and dominate our horizon.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Romans 8:26-28 (MSG) Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Zak & Elizabeth, Mary & Joe, overcame understandable disbelief, fear and worry to say “Yes” to Jesus and share in His precious plans to save The World. For all of us willing to listen, notice who Jesus wants us to befriend, serve, care for, and share His hope with, we can participate in God’s positive loving purpose and plan. This sacrificial Love let loose in our world, land, neighbourhood, and home, will signal a tidal wave of generosity, a positive pandemic!