Friday, February 19, 2016

Everyone Needs An Elizabeth

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.” Luke 1:56

The pastor’s words over a decade ago have never left me. “Everyone needs an Elizabeth,” he stressed. He was referring to the time when Mary, a young virgin woman received the message from the angel that she would miraculously conceive a child. In her vulnerability she was sent off to visit her aunt Elizabeth for the next few months who had miraculously conceived in her old age. Elizabeth had already walked through years of cultural shame of infertility. Now Mary was walking through the possibility of people talking about her and causing her shame. Mary needed her aunt Elizabeth. She was an older godly woman and a confidante. God used Elizabeth to prophesy into Mary’s situation. I can only imagine the conversations that must have taken place between Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth had been seasoned with experiencing suffering and shame and emerged retaining a strong faith. She had been prepared all along for this moment in history. Both were experiencing miracles at the same time. They must have been a mutual encouragement to each other.

I thanked God when I heard the pastor’s words. At that time two elderly ladies, one widowed and one who had never married, were sent into my life by God’s plan. They were strangers previously to me. Their care and prayers for me were so needed when one difficulty after another arose. Then the time came when they had no more strength to give. God sent another Elizabeth to me. Again she was unknown to me previously. God had prepared her to understand suffering and misunderstanding from personal experience. She has a steadfast faith and acquired wisdom and discernment. I haven’t looked for Elizabeths. God has sent them to me in my time of need. Everyone needs an Elizabeth. Especially if you are in Muslim ministry. I’m not referring to just a good friend or a prayer partner. Yes, she will be that – but even more. I mean a very special person specifically designed by God and sent to you to encourage and spiritually coach you. Perhaps the Elizabeth God sends to you may not be experienced in Muslim ministry but she is experienced in general principles and dynamics of ministry that come from doing something not everyone can grasp. She will most likely understand spiritual battles. Don’t be surprised if she will speak some prophetic words into your life. Listen carefully to her. Value her. These Elizabeths are rare and very precious. Learn from her. Then one day a young Mary will be sent your way and you will become an Elizabeth to her. This is God’s way. Are you feeling the need of an Elizabeth? Ask God to direct one to you. Muslim ministry is not for the faint hearted. Very few understand how lonely, challenging and sometimes overwhelming such a ministry is. But the Elizabeth God will send your way will understand. She will have been prepared. What a shame that I didn't realize my personal need of an Elizabeth during my decade in Pakistan. It would have made a difference.

Dear heavenly Father, somebody reading this desperately needs an Elizabeth. Please appoint someone to be sent to her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.