Elizabeth. What a beautiful name. To most who glance at her pictures, the little girl in purple is just an ordinary girl. A big smile on her face, feeding her baby doll, you might be fooled at first sight. Elizabeth is no ordinary girl; in fact, she is absolutely extraordinary. She is a recipient of one of God's greatest miracles this season! Oh yes, this little one has been chosen to receive a gift from the King of Kings Himself!!!
Elizabeth was born with Down Syndrome and has lived her life in an orphanage. Orphanages are not joyful places, for many reasons, but primarily because "family" is missing from them. Each child is simply a number that needs to be fed each day....and they are not fed a hot meal cooked by a creative mom who wants to warm her child's tummy and nourish a growing body....but a paltry meal served out of basic necessity. Orphan boys who are born with the God-given desire to rough and tumble on the floor in a fun wrestle with dad, never experience the thrill. And as for the forgotten little girls with delicate fingers designed by their Maker to be tucked safely into daddy's strong hand, she never feels the scruffy cheek of her father's face nestled close to hers when being comforted after a frightening nightmare on a blustery winter night. Getting tucked in at night? Hearing a bedtime story? Tickles under the chin? No, those are pleasures orphans know nothing about.
However, life is too seldom measured in absolutes, so on a comparative basis.....when the standard is a mental institution, orphanges would be called the "Taj Mahal". The little girl called Elizabeth wearing purple in the pictures above is in a mental institution this moment....because she has Down Syndrome and because she is seven.
When orphans with special needs turn 5 or 6, they are determined to be unadoptable and are sent to mental institutions with people of all ages (including aging adults). In this place, orphans like Elizabeth witness all kinds of frightening phenomena: persistent screaming, people being tied to beds, abuse of the worst kinds, etc. Because funding is sparse and adequate help is even more sparse, it is not unheard of for children like Elizabeth to be tied down to beds and never held again when they enter a mental institution.
In thinking of Elizabeth today, I was reminded of another one who shares the name which means "My God Is Abundance":
"During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned to service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old." (Luke 1 The Message)
You probably know the story from here...an angel plans a surprise meeting with Zachariah in the temple to tell him some terrific news and scares poor Zachariah into a paralyzed state of shock. I can almost hear his heart thumping through his temple garb when Gabriel began to speak:
"Don't fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You're going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you---many will delight in his birth. He'll achieve great stature with God. He'll drink neither wine nor beer. He'll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother's womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God's arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics---he'll get the people ready for God!" (Luke 1 The Message)
Zachariah, the highly respected servant of God, we would suspect to be a man of great faith....eager to accept God's Words given to him via the messenger of God. But no, like many who receive a calling from the Almighty, Zachariah doubted.
"But the angel said: I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won't believe me, you will be unable to say a word until the day of your son's birth. Every word I have spoken to you will come true on time----on God's time."
And every word spoken did come true. John the Baptist was born to the barren Elizabeth and her doting husband, Zachariah. "And in all that Judean hill country, people talked about nothing else." (Luke 1 The Message)
Today, I am just as thrilled as Gabriel must have been when he met Zachariah to announce God's miracle in that ancient temple: Miss Elizabeth has been given the gift of a family! The little forgotten girl wearing purple was never forgotten at all; God never forgets a single one of His children.
When parents are unable to parent, or when they choose not to parent, God intervenes and searches the earth for new ones who will step in their stead. The world is full of wonderfully capable parents who just haven't recognized "God's Message" to them yet (which explains the overloaded orphanages and foster care systems around the globe). Thankfully, Elizabeth's family overcame doubts and fears when the call came halfway across the world to their hearts regarding saving a frightened little girl who is living in a strange new place without the love of a family.
So there we have it: two females who share the name Elizabeth with two great miracle stories: One story encompassing the birth of John the Baptist, the one chosen to spread the news about the Savior of the world to come......The other a perfect picture of the Savior Who has already come and Who will come again.
Stop for a moment and think about it, is there a more accurate picture of what the Messiah did for us than the story of little Elizabeth? Jesus adopted us, we who are handicapped in every way and in desperate need of being saved from certain suffering and death....in the Savior's eyes, we are all like Elizabeth. And just as she is being ransomed, we have been ransomed.
"Oh Israel, the One Who formed you says: Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are Mine." (Isaiah 43:1)
Blessed Be Our God Who Is Abundance!!!
To give to Elizabeth's adoption fund, go to http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ and find her in the "My Family Found Me" section....and please don't forget our family's Christmas Angel: "Cutie-Pie Carlene" who is facing the institution and still in need of a family. To give to Carlene's adoption fund, go to: http://reecesrainbow.org/Carlene-gypf We have all been called to do something.