Luke 1:67,68,78 Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit…saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has redeemed his people… because of the tender mercy of our God…”
I remember watching a television show in which one of the characters turned out to be a drug addict. As her addictive behavior worsened, her secret was revealed. She became the bad guy as those around her suffered the consequences of her destructive behavior. She quit using though and in the episode’s climax, sacrificed her life to save those of her partners. She went from addict to hero in one episode and in her death, earned redemption.
As I was myself enslaved at the time, I was jealous. I did not want to give my life, but her redemption had obvious appeal to me. My addiction was still a secret, but her lies exposed my lies and her treachery reflected mine. I longed to feel good about myself. As I was very much addicted to instant gratification, I wanted redemption and I wanted it now.
Hollywood is a lie though. Redemption does not occur in a one hour episode. I learned, as Zechariah learned, that redemption can be a slow, painful process.
Zechariah too, had fallen from grace. He was a priest and as such, was supposed to be a spiritual leader. He had failed at faith though, when he disbelieved God’s prophecy that his wife would bear a son (John the Baptist). For his failure, He was struck mute for months.
I believe that during those long months, Zechariah repented and returned his gaze to God. When his son was born, friends and family celebrated the miracle and wanted to name the boy Zechariah, after his father.
Zechariah in obedience, wrote (he still could not talk) that the boy would be named John, as commanded by God. It was in that act of public obedience that God loosened his tongue and freed his speech. Zechariah, though he had repented, did not know redemption until he obeyed God.
Like Zechariah, I longed for redemption but in my slavery to self, I could not follow God. It was not until I took radical steps of obedience that I was able to live out repentance and eventually come to know redemption. Unlike the woman on TV, it did not happen in a one-hour episode. It took painful long months.
We so often want to undo years of destruction in one day. We long for life and redemption to instantly replace death and decay, but life does not work that way. I may be forgiven the moment I turn to God, but my earthly consequences are not dismissed so easily.
If I want a new life and if I want to know redemption, I need to continually grow the seeds of that new life in me. I need to obey God today and I need to do the same tomorrow. I do not, in one hour, undo a life of following self. The new life of following God is built one day at a time. He does not make me wait forever though. When I follow, He is faithful to grow that new life in me.