I will admit that my mom and dad did not do “time out” when I was growing up. The closest we got to “time out” was “Go to your room and think about what you did!” And it escalated from there.
But I know the feeling. A “time out” is a time when you’ve done something wrong and you have to sit out for a while. Even in sports, a “time out” is called by a coach when players need to stop and consider what should happen next.
Sometimes God puts His children in “time out.” It may be because of some sin that has disrupted our relationship with Jesus and He has withdrawn the closeness of His presence. King David experienced this after his sexual encounter with Bathsheba. He wanted God to restore the joy of salvation (Psalm 51:12).
Sometimes the “time out” is because of our lack of faith and trust in God. Zacharias felt this way. God had promised him a son (Luke 1:13). But because of his age, Zacharias doubted God’s ability to do it (Luke 1:18). So, God caused him not to be able to speak. He was in God’s “time out” for nine months.
Following the birth of this son we know as John the Baptist, the day came to name him. Since God’s angel told Zacharias to name him John, Zacharias was emphatic as he wrote – “HIS NAME IS JOHN” (Luke 1:63). Immediately Zacharias began to talk. He had learned to trust God and was out of God’s “time out.”
God opened the mouth of Zacharias, and his first words were words of praise. He no longer had words of questioning and doubt but words of praise and joy. You can read his testimony in Luke 1:67-79. His praise gives us four beautiful pictures of what happens when we are out of God’s “time out” and in close fellowship with God again. This is what Jesus has done for us by dying on the cross to forgive us of our sins. For those who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior, Jesus has brought us out of an eternal “time out” and brought us into an eternal fellowship with God.
1 – The opening of a prison door.
“… he hath visited and redeemed his people.” (Luke 1:68).
This is a picture of someone who visits a prisoner and pays for his release. “Just Mercy” is a book and movie of a true story of a man who was wrongly sent to death row. His case was overturned and he became a free man. What a thrill he must have felt. Fellowship with God is like being freed from prison.
2 – The winning of a battle.
“that we should be saved from our enemies…” (Luke 1:71).
It’s the thrill of victory in battle. This goes beyond the thrill of winning a Super Bowl. This is a life and death victory in war. What a thrill to know you have won. Fellowship with God is like struggling in a contest and coming out the victor.
3 – The canceling of a debt.
“to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins.” (Luke 1:77)
“Remission” is to forgive a debt. What would it feel like to have someone pay off your credit cards or your mortgage? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful feeling? Fellowship with God is like having all your debt paid off.
4 – The dawning of a new day.
“…the dayspring from on high hath visited us.” (Luke 1:78)
The ‘dayspring” is the first glimpse of the morning sun – a new day. Wouldn’t it feel good to start all over again – to have a new day to get a new start. All your mistakes and wrongs are in the past and you can start with a clean slate. That is what fellowship with God is like. It is a new start to a new day.
Like Zacharias, are you in God’s “time out”? Be patient. When you have learned your lesson, He will bring you out and you will experience the freedom and closeness with God once again. If sin is the cause of God’s “time out”, confess you sin and He will forgive you (1 John 1:9). If you have never trusted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, surrender your life to Him. Jesus is no other way to have an eternal relationship with God (John 14:6).
You may not know why you are in God’s “time out”. Maybe you just don’t feel as close to God as you once did. You feel like you’re just going through the motions. You have no spark to your Christian life. It may not be because of some sin that you are having this experience. Sometimes God puts us through a dry time so we can anticipate the joy of close fellowship with Him. Every relationship has its ups and downs, including our relationship with God. It could be that God has pulled away from you so you can anticipate His closeness.
As your heart searches to be close to Him, He will draw near to you. Soon, you will experience the nearness of God.