It is sometimes supposed that the Holy Spirit is stifled by order, planning, or routine, and can work only in the context of spontaneity, and the “unstructured.”
The story of the birth of John the Baptist is an important one in the New Testament. It is worth noting that God’s preparations for this event embraced a strictly ordered set of religious routines. The priest Zechariah, to whom this unusual child was to be given, was doing what the rules prescribed. It was the turn of his division to take part (a clearly defined part) in divine service. There was nothing “unstructured” here. “It fell to his lot, by priestly custom, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer the incense” (Luke 1:9).
It is not unlikely that Zechariah, like the rest of us, sometimes felt wearied by the sameness of his duties and wondered if the ritual was not perhaps empty and meaningless. Was it really worthwhile to go through the routine in the same way, day after day? But this time an angel was waiting for him at the altar! Suppose he had not shown up for his part?
So the Lord meets us—not by our going out of our way and neglecting the usual responsibilities laid upon us, but in the middle of our most repetitive task. There He is, expecting us to come as faithfully as ever, waiting to give us something.
Make me faithful, Lord. Make me humble enough to keep on doing what I know I’m supposed to be doing, and joyfully expectant of finding You close by while I work.
**Excerpt originally published in Guided by God’s Promises, p. 55.