I remember serving as an intern at St. Peter-Immanuel in Milwaukee. As a college student I kept odd hours at the office, one night about 1:00 AM I was inside the church office working on a some youth ministry project, hopefully not returning phone calls. I hear some sounds outside the office and as I stepped out into the main hallway I was met by a two Milwaukee police officers. They asking what I was doing in the building at 1:00 AM. They were not buying that I was a youth director, working late.
They asked for my ID and when I showed them my Wisconsin Drivers License, and my Concordia College Student ID they still were not impressed. I showed them my office which was a barren wasteland of an office, nothing on the walls, no name on the door, no clear identifiers that linked me with that space. It was only when I remembered that I had a copy of the Bulletin from my installation, with my photo on it that they relaxed, or maybe it was me who relaxed.
Now this is not the only time I have been asked for identification, in fact it happens all the time. I have written on all my credit cards “Please see ID” so I get asked for ID on a regular basis. I am thankful when people want to know that it is me, when it comes to my credit cards, and my bank accounts.
When it comes to my relationship with God, I must admit there are time I ask for his ID. His Spirit prompts me, His Word calls me, His people challenge me, and I sometimes want to know it is God who is speaking. Lets be honest, He sometimes asks us to do things that seem way outside of our comfort zone, or way outside of the norm of culture. As I begin my journey through the Gospel of Luke with Michael Card’s new book Luke: The Gospel of Amazement (Biblical Imagination) I am struck by Zechariah. Look again at his story:
5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. 8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”
Zechariah is chooses to enter the temple and pray for the people, and to burn incense. A chance of a lifetime. He is greeted by and angel and stands in fearful awe and listens. When the angel is finished speaking Zechariah asks for ID. “How can I be sure of this?” (vs. 18) The angle is not amused, in what I feel is a teeth clenched pronouncement he say’s “I am Gabriel, I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”(vs. 19)
Did you hear it? Zechariah was not asked to move to South America, to stand on the roof of the temple and preach, or to even change his diet. He was told that the one thing that he and his wife had been praying for, was being granted – and he still asked for ID.
So I guess I am in good company. I am also thankful that through His Word, His Spirit, and the confirmation of His People he speaks to me and I am more and more able to distinguish His voice for it is consistent and filled with Grace and Blessing. My prayer is that each day I am better able to hear his voice, and less and less frequently ask for ID!
+ What is Christ calling you to do today that requires you to ask for ID? Seek him out in His Word, and prayer as He confirms His presence in your life.