Life in Abundance

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Open Mouth, Insert Foot

by Cynthia Ward
foot in mouth

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Are you kidding me? Did that guy really just say that out loud? That’s what I thought during my Bible study at church. We were studying Luke 1:7—“But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.”

The discussion turned towards how childless couples were considered cursed; how children were considered a blessing; and how those without children had obviously done something wrong in the eyes of God. Then, out of nowhere, this guy pipes up, “Well you know who’s to blame—Elizabeth. It says she was barren.”

The room was quickly flooded by an angry wave of intense murmuring. How dare he say such a thing! As if any woman, desperate to have a child and yet unable to have one, would be to blame. A thousand rude comments clogged my throat as I clamped my mouth shut—which is very unusual for me. I spent the rest of the study time stewing over this Neanderthal’s comment.

But then I started to really think about the fact that Elizabeth had no children. What could have been the reason? I know that medical issues could easily explain this, but just follow my train of thought: In verse 6, Luke says Zachariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God.” Maybe Elizabeth’s barrenness was part of God’s plan all along. I mean, let’s be honest. Parents with many children parent differently from those with just one or two.

God chose Elizabeth and Zachariah to be the parents of a very special person, the one who was to pave the way for His Son. This person was to begin softening the hearts of God’s children. To be aptly prepared for the job, he would require a solid foundation in his early, formative years. He would need the undivided attention of parents who had the time to bring him up to fulfill the job description of his career. Just think about the man that John the Baptist became. He was a true believer, a dynamic preacher, and a great leader of his time.

Elizabeth—having been barren for so long, having matured along the way, having watched the errors of young mothers—had a huge advantage. She didn’t have other children or responsibilities to distract her. Both Zachariah and she were at a point in their lives where they could fully embrace God’s plan and focus all their time, resources and energy on bringing up John to fulfill the prophecy of a messenger.

And this may not have been the case without Elizabeth’s barrenness. Think about this the next time you find yourself praying for that one thing you need to fulfill your greatest desires. Never put your limits on God. He has amazing plans for you in His time.

You can find more devotions like this in the Alabaster Jars series. The first book has 53 readings and the second 99. Consider the books as a gift for yourself or someone else. Whether you buy the paperback or the Kindle version, you’ll be making a difference in a woman’s life–100% of the proceeds go towards teaching women how to read.

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The Pig on the Road

by Cynthia Ward

I am number four of five children who didn’t often get to visit extended family in California. So any opportunity for a road trip to see Grandma was wonderful.

When I was 12, a family friend was getting married in California near where my grandmother lived. I begged my mom to let me go with Violet, the groom’s mother, who didn’t want to travel alone anyway. My mom said yes; I was thrilled; and Violet was glad for the company.

That morning I piled into the car with great excitement. After the required prayer for safe travel, we backed out of our driveway and headed towards California. It should have been a five-hour journey from our small town to Grandma’s home, except that Violet was a good Christian woman who abided by all highway rules and regulations. In other words, we never broke the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit.

Finally, as we were nearing our destination in the San Francisco Bay Area, we merged with hundreds of other cars driving on a five-lane highway. With Violet resolutely stuck in the slowest lane, I had plenty of opportunity to see everything. Soon a flatbed pickup truck was alongside us. Around the truck bed was a wooden slat fence. Within the fenced area of the flatbed were a dog, a calf and a pig—and plenty of hay. Just as the truck began to pass us, the back fence guard fell off and splintered all over the highway. Naturally this caught our attention. And we watched what happened next in horror.

The pig apparently decided this was his stop. He walked up to the edge of the flatbed and leapt out onto the highway right in front of our car. The pig landed on its side. But because it was so fat, it bounced back up on its feet. Instinctively Violet slammed on her brakes. But there was no way we were going to stop before we hit that pig head on. I can still hear her shout out, “Stop us, Jesus!” And we stopped. Just like that. There was no skidding of tires, no swerving into the other lane. We just stopped. Right on that spot.

The pig walked around our car and poked his head through our window. He was huge! And after poking his nose at us, he proceeded to the side of the road. We could hear car tires squealing all around us, but we were safe; and so was the pig. Neither the pig nor our car was hit by another vehicle.

I think about the big fat pig every once in a while and remember that I’m safe in the hands of God.