Observation: Zechariah is promised a child in his old age by a visitation of an angel. In response he is speechless because he did not believe this could happen to him and his wife. As a priest, not being able to speak was also a loss of job function....no longer able to offer sacrifices for people, say prayers etc.
Application: Sometimes God shows up in ways that do make us speechless. Finding out Becky and I were having a son in our old age, left me a bit speechless so I can relate. But there is something really wonderful about silence. James later goes on to offer this wisdom "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."
In the busyness of life we can miss the opportunities to hear God speaking. Having recently taken a 36 hour retreat by myself, my favorite part was the silence. The constant chatter of 3 small children, a busy household, a growing church, my own thoughts, and life in general can be a constant distraction. Silence can produce a connection with God and God's Spirit that cannot happen in the background of all the chatter.
St. Francis once offered "Preach always, use words when necessary." Then there is this gem; "I would rather see a sermon lived out than preached." Even recent studies have shown that only a small percentage of people are auditory learners. I reflect on all of this as I am preparing 3 sermons in the next 6 days.
Zechariah realized how awesome God's gesture to his family when he returns home after a week in the temple to hear his wife proclaim "How kind is the Lord!"
Prayer: Lord sometimes we are speechless in your midst because of the grace you pour out into our lives in big and small ways.