"When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear"
Zechariah had been chose to offer incense before the Lord. It was his appointed time. It was an honor and an opportunity not to be taken lightly. There was something gravely exciting about approaching the holiness of God in this way. As he was behind the curtain, he encountered the supernatural presence of heaven in a way he had never known. He was startled.
It is startling how easy it can be to have a good heart, but low expectations, surrendering more to the ceremonial traditions of religion. In various parts of our world there is no shortage of churches, people who call themselves "Christians," or other institutions of religion. What there is a shortage of is a people who live in great expectation of who God is and what He desires to do in their lives.
There are so many people who live lives of low spiritual expectancy. They "believe" in God, but don't necessarily believe that He's going to do anything in their lives. When Zechariah went behind that curtain, though he should always have had a fear of the Lord, should not have been startled that the presence of the Lord was there. He should have expected something out of the ordinary, something so much greater than he could possibly accomplish on his own. We, too, should approach God with great expectation. He's able. He's more than able.
Don't hope for an experience. Choose to live, abide in the everyday expectation that your God is alive, that He's aware, alert, and that He is always around you. Know that He is active in your life. The question for you, is whether or not you will activate the faith you profess to have, and apply that expectation. Take Him at His Word. Believe that when you approach Him, He is there. Be confident that when you are crying out to Him, He hears you, and He will answer you.
Be reminded of the humble, yet passionately expectant words that David prayed to the Lord: "I pray to You, because I know you will answer, O God" (Psalm 17:6).