THE CHRISTMAS PROMISE
Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro
Founder and President of Thread of Hope, Inc.
“The angel said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you will name him John. He will be your pride and joy, and many people will be glad that he was born. As far as the Lord is concerned, he will be a great man...” -Luke 1:13-15
There are many Bible verses that I love. This is one of them. In just one God ordained encounter, your life is radically changed. You go from sorrow to exuberant joy. This is what should have happened here except that Zechariah wanted a sign that this was from God. This unbelief caused Zechariah to be mute until the baby arrived.
It’s not hard for me to imagine this kind of news. I am a recipient of two of these miracles. Justin and Ellianna. Today, I’m going to share about Justin Noah, my son.
I was at the alter praying one September, a Sunday evening. I was praying for a completely different thing. All of a sudden God spoke to me, “....and by the way, I have a baby all picked out for you, a perfect and healthy baby. You don’t have to worry about anything...” My eyes just opened wide. “What did you say, God?” I immediately told my pastor, his wife, and the intercessory prayer warriors. Everyone was excited and waiting for this promised miracle child.
First year went by, no baby. Second year, no baby. Third year, no baby. Fourth year, no baby. You can understand, the entire church knew this word now. Every Sunday, before church, Pastor Crosby had a few intercessors pray for the service. Those handful of women would take 5 minutes and intercede for my promised baby. The head of the intercessors, Evelyn, would say, “Teresa, you cannot go by what you think or feel. Stand on the promises of God. Your baby will come as God said.”
It was exactly four years later to the date of the promise given, I said, “God, I know what I heard. I know it was You who said it. I have waited for this child way before these four years., but I want you to know, baby or no baby, I am going to serve you. If I heard wrong, please forgive me and the mess I might have made by telling people you told me.” That was it.
Three months later after that prayer. First Thursday in December, at 9:30 PM. (Some dates and times can’t ever be forgotten.) I learned that my baby was on the way. I can’t even explain that moment. I was in the living room, next to the Christmas tree. People, I jumped at least 4 feet into the air, and almost landed on my behind. Our church was in great celebration. The long four years of prayer was answered.
We had named him “Nathan Caleb.” Then, the unthinkable happened. The baby decided to come 2 and a half months prematurely. The doctors said he had a brain bleed during delivery. This is called Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). This happens when a baby is born 10 weeks or more premature. He was just at the ten weeks. This meant bleeding happened into the fluid-filled areas (ventricles) inside his brain, and it required surgery. He was born weighing 4lb 11oz, and went down to 4lb 6oz. He was so tiny.
I finally saw him, in his little incubator in the NICU. A respiratory nurse to his right, another nurse monitoring his heart beat and blood pressure to his left. They were just sitting there by his side. There were two doctors behind him -the delivery doctor and NICU doctor. “Ms. Citro, meet your son.”
His name was already written above his head. “Nathan C. Citro." I was scared to death. I wanted to hold him, pick him up, kiss him. But I couldn’t. He had all sorts of IVs, and monitors all over his tiny little body. Having gone to medical school, I knew what was happening. I felt so helpless. I, myself, was gasping for air seeing him that way. I finally was able to catch my breath, and get something out of my vocal cords.
As I placed my pinky finger in his so tiny little hand. I said, “Hello, Son, it’s me, Mommy. I love you so much. You have to fight now, because God has great plans for your life. I’m here, we will fight together. Ok?” He immediately turned his head to the sound of my voice, and grabbed my pinky finger in his hand. He was holding on to me. He was trying to open his eyes but the medicine in his eyes was stinging him. He kept on opening and closing his eyes. Nurses, doctors, and everyone around us started crying as I was. In that second, God said "His name is to be Justin Noah, change His name. You know this baby is mine.”
You see, here in the story of John the Baptist we read about a miraculous birth. Elizabeth, too, had been praying for a child. However, unlike me, she was now of old age. There was no hope for her to even think that she could be a mother. Yet, God is the God of the impossible. Did you know God could care less about your age, status, income, or anything else? He holds time in his hands, he is God you can’t get higher status than that, and he owns every single money in this entire world. He was going to bring forth a child for Zechariah and Elizabeth and age wasn’t going to get in the way. That was the first good tiding Gabriel was delivering. You're going to be a dad in your old age. Get excited!
Your son shall be called John. He’s going to be your pride and joy. In other words, Zechariah, your son will bring you much delight. The joy of your life. He will bring you honor. You might have felt down before, but now your self esteem is going to rise up. You're going to be a dad. Time to rejoice and celebrate what God is about to do. You are to call him John because it means "Yahweh has been gracious,” What’s in a name, you say? It’s clear. The grace of Yahweh means everything. Justin means upright and righteous and Noah means rest and comfort. John fit his name perfectly, and so does Justin.
Finally, Gabriel says something so amazing. Two things. “The people will be glad that he was born" meant that people would hear what he had to say. And the best part, "As far as the Lord is concerned, he will be a great man..." "As far as the Lord is concerned." Please pause here. God had already formed an opinion. John would be a great man. Don’t care what anyone else had to say. God declared it, and that was the end of the story. God was bringing out a great man. John was going to fulfill an incredible destiny on earth. To declare the birth of the Messiah, to announce the God of the universe.
Let me ask you. Do you think God needed anyone to announce his Son? Do you think for one split second that Jesus needed John? Of course not. You see, God wants us all to partake of His blessings. You know why Jesus said that he was the greatest of prophets? Because up to that point, all other prophets spoke about prophesies about Jesus’ coming, but John was actually alive to see it.
This Christmas, are you going to showcase Jesus Christ by celebrating what he’s done in your life? Have you seen his power and might? Have you actually benefited from the life of Christ in you? I have. I’m testifying what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me. I was a Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, Rachel, and Elizabeth. I miraculously received my children. I, too, was told what to call them, and I had to wait a very long time from their announcement. 15 years in total.
Friends, the miracle of Christmas is Christ, the Son of God. Gabriel asked both Zechariah and Mary, “Is there anything impossible for God to do?” No! There isn’t. If you're given a promise, hang on. Justin never needed an operation. God told me that he would be perfect and healthy. Even if he had a rough entrance into this world. He now stands at almost 6 feet tall, and weighs 182 pounds, and God has called him to preach His word. Just like John the Baptist, Justin, you, and I are born for greatness. What will you do with your life?
Let the light of the world, Jesus Christ, light up in you this Christmas season. You are the star shining for all to see. Shine brightly and lead the way for others to follow.
Praise & Worship: Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Christmas Lyric Video) - YouTube
All our videos can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnl7LP9Tn37GtuTPqnI0USw
Subscribe to our blog at www.threadofhope.org/subscribe
Check out our E-Magazine at www.threadofhope.org/everyday-life