“According to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.” Luke 1:9
No priest was allowed to burn incense more than once in his lifetime. How many years had Zacharias performed his duty as priest, showing up at the appointed time of service hoping that this time the lot would fall to him to burn incense, only to not be chosen – again? What was it like for him to see new priests get chosen while he still waited? Must have seemed pretty congruent with the rest of his life – always watching someone else get the blessing. But for Zacharias – no son, no incense, no blessing.
Even though this method of casting lots seems random, Proverbs 16:33 says “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Zacharias’ many years of waiting was not his bad luck – it was the very timing of God. There was an announcement planned for Zacharias. The timing was critical and God was holding back the lot until His appointed time. But when the time came, nothing was able to hold it back. And the lot fell to Zacharias.
It is hard enough to wait when you know there are better things on the horizon. For Zacharias, there could not have been much hope of anything on the horizon at this point. An old man by now, Zacharias may have at times entertained thoughts of having been cheated by life. But God was planning something more tremendous for Zacharias than he could have imagined.
Life is no series of coincidences. What an unimaginable frustration life would be if there was no sense of God’s providence in every step. But because I believe He is sovereign, I can trust that even if it seems that good is withheld from me, it is in accordance with His plan and His timing. Each day can be filled with peace as I recognize that because He orders my steps, I can completely enjoy where He has me today as I wait for what is on the horizon, whatever it may be.
Maybe it will be something as significant as a John the Baptist. Maybe it won’t. But I can trust that it will be exactly what He planned, exactly when He planned it.