Updated: Sep 17, 2022
Easing out of bed Elisabeth turned back to be sure the covers were spread over her sleeping husband’s form, then took down a heavy mantle from the row of hooks on the wall, scuffed her feet into slippers, and quietly let herself out into the moonlit night. Crossing the small courtyard, she traced her footsteps back to her solitary bench on the outcropping of rock overlooking the valley.
Taking a seat on the stone bench, Elizabeth breathed deeply of the jasmine-scented night air and looked up at the stars. They seemed so cold and distant in the great expanse of the heavens. Placing her hand on her belly she closed her eyes and tried to imagine what it would be like to feel life stir in her womb. It seemed surreal to even let herself imagine it, and in the dark, alone with her thoughts, not needing to be strong for her husband, Elisabeth gave way to the doubts and fears that she had struggled to tamp down. Could this really be? Was her barrenness truly going to be turned to joy? It just … it seemed like a dream. If it was, she didn’t want to wake up! Shaking her head at her own foolishness, thoughts of Sarah, and Rebecca, and Rachel, and Hannah suddenly came to mind. But that was many years ago and happened to women who were great in Israel. Who was she, Elisabeth, to have such a thing happen to her?
For over an hour she sat and struggled with herself, wanting desperately to believe but finding it so very difficult to accept such a miracle, after all these years, when she was already past the age. Finally lifting her face to heaven, her shoulders began to shake with silent sobs. And when it seemed she literally felt her heart turn over in her breast, she breathed out all her deepest fears and doubts from trembling lips: “Oh Lord God, if this is not my own yearning heart deceiving me, if this is your will, if I am truly to bear a child, help me, Lord God, help me believe!” Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks but Elisabeth did not even notice. Her hands clasped tightly to her chest, her face lifted up to heaven, her body began to rock back and forth with her struggle between faith and fear, wonder and doubt, shock and burgeoning hope, and she wept, the tears coming from deep within as her heart broke open and all her doubts and fears came pouring out.
Bowing her head in submission to whatever the Lord’s will might be for her, at first she thought the drops falling on her hands were her own tears, until she felt them on her bare ankles and pattering on her covered head. Lifting her eyes up to search the heavens, Elisabeth felt the drops fall gently on her face, cooling her heated cheeks and washing away the salty tears.
The rains! The rains had come! And she knew. God had heard her prayers, and in that moment had opened the windows of heaven and poured out the life-giving rains to wash away her doubts and fears, to water her soul, and like the earth around her, make her fruitful!
Suddenly clapping her hands together she began to laugh. Jumping up and spreading her arms wide, her head thrown back in sheer joy, she allowed the rain to bathe her face, opening her mouth and drinking in the life-giving water. Bursts of giggling mixed with quiet snippets of songs bubbled up from deep within, lines of poetry from the ancient Psalms, childhood ditties from a long-ago past thrummed up from her overflowing heart as she dipped and swayed and turned in circles, dancing with thanksgiving and wonder, relief and worship and joy all mingled together, until the realization dawned that this child would be no ordinary child.
That thought brought her up short, and she fell still again, her hands clutching her robes at her throat. Slowly she sank back down upon the bench, her mind a whirl. This would be a very special child, sent by God, a miracle baby, destined for some holy purpose that Elisabeth could not even begin to imagine. Given into her care to raise and nurture and train up … for God! Her heart and her head slowly bowed beneath the sheer weight of such a thing, and for a long while she sat in shock and wonder, tremblingly aware that with this great joy and blessing came divine purpose beyond herself, and this child, this gift of God was not for her alone. Sitting quietly, humbled by it all, alone with her God, she gave herself up in silent, adoring worship as the rains fell, gently watering the world around her.