John, born with such promise and a prophesy. But, what happened with that potential? Luke 1 finished with “the child grew and became strong in spirit…”
Such detail was given to the pregnancy and then – just this little phrase. Don’t you wish there was a bit more detail? I do! But, we do now know two things – growth and strength occurred. Growth obvious means physical growth, as a toddler stretched and grew into a little boy. Then, the little boy into a pre-teen, a teenager (perish the thought) and then a man. Just imagine Elizabeth and Zechariah smiling and shaking their heads as John outgrew his clothes, ripped holes in his pants, and changed shoe sizes every month. At the same time, there must have been another kind of growth occurring – a growth in maturity and understanding in God’s ways. The hunger that is a cliché in a young boy might have also been a hunger for God’s words and love. Elizabeth and Zechariah must each have been a part of this growth.
The other thing that happened is that Zechariah became strong in spirit. Strength usually denotes intensity, a power, a depth, or a concentration that is a forte in someone’s life. Note that there is a word before strong though – became. John was not born strong in spirit, but had to become that way. Even with such a big entrance into the world, John still had to become strong. What an encouragement that one word is as I also work on my own becoming.
The next part of the phrase was that John “lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.” Why would John live in the desert? The desert must have been a great place for learning. Part of the desert’s appeal to John might have been the solitude. This allowed him plenty of time to think, to pray, to seek God. The desert is also a place to observe needs being met in unlikely ways. There is actually a lot of beauty and growth in that austere climate, blooms, growth, and wildlife that flourishes there. Every need is met perfectly to suit that environment. John would have seen this and had a chance to see God provide for every need of the environment.
Until….and there is that timing word again. Until John appeared publicly to Israel, he left the quiet to go to his people. God had spent an intensive training time with John to put him to work – not to just keep him on the proverbial bench. God was training John for a reason. This was now the beginning of putting the training into practice.
How are you being trained? How are you going to put this into practice?