How Can I Know?


“How can I know this will happen?”
Luke 1:18

I was never the kind of little girl who dreamed of her perfect wedding day. I didn’t spend years imagining that gorgeous white dress or epic cake. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely wanted to meet my Prince Charming and have our special day – but little Emily’s daydreams were of something else: my own family.

I wanted a Peter Pan AND lost boys to “my Wendy.” I imagined our Neverland adventures. I wanted a Belle library where my Beast and I would read with our kids for endless hours. I couldn’t wait for my 101 Dalmations… or Golden Retrievers… or bunnies… or llamas.

I kinda talked with God about it. I say “kinda” because it was more like one of those things I wanted so bad I was scared to even whisper about. This was one of those dreams that was always a “maybe.” God never promised me I would certainly have this dream. He promises a lot of things in his word, but “Emily’s perfect family” isn’t mentioned in there.

So, I get it when I read Luke’s account of Zechariah. I get that feeling of deep longing mixed with fear and a little tiny glimmer of repressed hope. I get that “Can I really believe you would fulfill THIS dream?!” doubt.

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 call him 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 before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel 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 parents 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.”

Maybe it’s just in our DNA. There’s an angel standing mere feet from his face, telling him that he will have his life’s dream fulfilled and he’s still doubting.

To him – and to little Emily – doubt didn’t feel like doubt. The human evidence was stacked against us. For both Zechariah and little Emily, it appeared to our human eyes that all the right pieces couldn’t possibly fall into all the right places needed for our dreams to occur.

But the angel’s response to Zechariah’s question points out something that goes beyond human evidence:

19 The angel said to him, “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.”

How can you know, Zechariah? Because God’s messenger had been sent to give you this good news. How can you know [anything] for sure, little Emily? Because God’s messenger had been sent to give you THIS good news:

  • I have a home and a family beyond this world: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3 NIV 
  • God will give us GOOD things: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV
  • God created me for a purpose and a future: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

So, while he didn’t ever specifically promise little Emily that her dream of a family would come true exactly as she envisioned it, He DID send a messenger to give me even better news. News that – if it weren’t true – my earthly dream would actually be more like a nightmare.

My mother-in-law (yes, little Emily got her wish) always tells me to be careful what I wish for because I might just get it. My focus this week will be uncovering more of what God has already promised me – and getting excited about believing it.


Dear Lord, doubt is so dangerous. It’s also SO silly because it’s rooted in what my human senses detect. You see, hear, smell, taste, and feel far beyond what I do. You promise me things that extend FAR beyond my wildest dreams. I need your help to stop doubting and instead start praying for what YOU dream for my life. Amen.

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  1. Robin Rozman

    That last sentence is the clincher! Isn’t it so hard to pray for what God dreams for us. It is so confusing to me- fate vs free choice, God’s wish for you to reach your fullest vs His predetermined plan for you. Who’s will am I following at any given moment in time and how do I know?

    I love that you bearing about all of these important questions for prayer and inflection. Thank you once again for your insight.

    • messyworship

      It’s totally something I wrestle with, too, Robin. You are SO not alone on that one. Personally, my regular Bible reading has helped me find a little more clarity on that one. The more time I spend reading God’s voice, the (tiny bit) easier it is for me to recognize his voice/direction/will in my life journey. (I love reading the accounts in the Bible of real people like us who struggled – it makes me realize this REALLY IS hard… it’s not just me…) xoxo Hugs & prayers, sister!!!


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