December 20, 2023

He is in the waiting

The Advent season draws us to pause, reflect, and enter into waiting…waiting for the One, Jesus, Son of God to return and set things right.  We trust He will arrive at just the right time, bringing us Hope, Peace, Joy, Love in ways that are not of this world.

Ann Voskamp is quoted as saying “This waiting for God is the very real work of the people of God.”

Our journey of waiting…

The Advent season draws us to pause, reflect, and enter into waiting…waiting for the One, Jesus, Son of God to return and set things right.  We trust He will arrive at just the right time, bringing us Hope, Peace, Joy, Love in ways that are not of this world.  If you are like me, I don’t particularly like waiting or perhaps you are one who is happy to wait in quiet patience.  

Over the last decade, I feel like my Beloved has had me on a journey of waiting.  Initially, for Him to miraculously break into my heartache and bring relief, a solution of my own prescription to be done on my timeline in in my way…how I have learned it does not work that way.  My waiting has shifted from a white knuckling, excruciating endurance to a more active participation with the Spirit of God.

I have learned to wait with prayer and reflection as to why I wait.  I also notice a shift in the object of what I am waiting for.  Moving from my own personal desires, albeit good ones, to things more in line with God’s heart for me, my loved ones and the world around me.  I have learned to wait with my head, reflecting on things of God, with my heart, encountering the love of God in my innermost places, and with my feet, in acts of service to the world around me.

Ann Voskamp is quoted as saying “This waiting for God is the very real work of the people of God.”

I have discovered a real richness in my waiting, oh, I am still impatient many times, but when I am able to pause and draw a deep breath, shift my focus and relax, good things happen.  This is a practice I continue to intentionally pursue as it helps me notice where God is in my life and how He is engaging, stretching me to grow more into His likeness.  I think it is the process of sanctification.

This type of waiting is like the watchman who waits, noticing all that is happening around. He’s elevated on a height to be able to see the world around him. Like Simeon and Anna, we can learn a lot in our waiting. Something new about God, ourselves and the world.

A bit of context for this passage.  God had been silent to his people for 400 years...Not a word, prophecy, or whisper…nothing… now, as we read in Luke, there are many miraculous, mysterious acts of God through Angel announcements, sudden celestial signs, the Spirit of God coming upon people to just name a few of them.  For those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, their God was speaking and moving profoundly!!!  

Let’s take a closer look at these two servants of God who waiting patiently, watched intently, worshipped wholeheartedly, and worked faithfully serving their LORD, and King with constant devotion… part of the faithful remnant of Israel who looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah, the One who would rescue Israel and as it turned out all of mankind.

25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So, when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,

   as you have promised.

30 I have seen your salvation,

31     which you have prepared for all people.

32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,

   and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Luke 2:25-32

We don’t know how long Simeon had waited, how many times he had looked at a male child being brought forth for dedication only to realize that he must still wait–but we know that Simeon returned to the temple that day on the Spirits prompting because he held fast, trusted, and believed God’s promise spoken to Him years before not his own upright, devout life or by observing the religious rituals of his day but because he was eagerly waiting for the One whom all the scriptures had pointed to from the beginning of time…the Promised One who would Redeem us.

Then suddenly, on a day he thought would be like any other, THERE HE WAS–Messiah had come.

What a beautiful example of patience and waiting. One commentator put it this way, "The thought underlying Simon’s praise is of a slave who's been instructed by his master to keep watch through the long dark night on a high place, to wait for the rising of a special star, and then to announce it. After wearisome hours of waiting, he sees at last the star rising in all its brightness, he announces it and then is discharged from the duty of watching any longer. Simeon had been instructed to await the rising of the sun of righteousness, the star of the house of Jacob, and now, at last, the child is in his arms, he has beheld the redemption of God incarnate in Christ Jesus, and so he knows God now lets him depart in peace and discharges him from the task of further watching."

Simeon is the only one recorded in scripture to have held this precious babe in his arms…his faithful waiting was rewarded. As he cradled Jesus in his arms, spoke prophecy over his baby head and looked into the fresh eyes of Ancient of Days, I think maybe, just maybe, Emmanuel went from being “God with us” to “God with me” for Simeon.  Fresh encounters have a tendency to personalize our relationship with God... I imagine the fullness of God’s trustworthy love filled his hungry soul and he was able to breath out, “You can dismiss Your slave in peace...for my eyes have seen Your salvation”.

And what about Anna??

36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four.[c] She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer, 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Anna turned her loss and grief into lifelong prayer and service to her LORD where she waited on Him and served Him faithfully and boldly.  Did you notice in Anna’s story that after she saw the infant Jesus, she immediately took up a new ministry: that of telling everyone about the “redemption of Jerusalem.” She became an evangelist.

Says Pastor John Piper, “The Master has given all of us assignments for while he’s gone — gifts, resources, abilities, money, opportunities, relationships, spiritual disciplines. All of those are spheres where we do our job with faithfulness and diligence.”

Waiting and watching do not mean passivity and inactivity. As modeled by Simeon and Anna in this account, we are to be proactive in the waiting and watching. The faithful disciple is one who waits with great hope, expectancy, and eagerness believing God’s personal promises to them.

They watch, being aware, alert, attentive and spiritually prepared to encounter Him fresh and new.  

They worship whole-heartedly, regardless of the hardships or circumstances they find themselves in. And last but not least they work with constant devotion to be about the work of the Master—doing ministry, proclaiming the Gospel, showering love and compassion on the lost—until He returns, serving our Beloved in whatever capacity He has for us. We were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The only “retirement” with regard to ceasing from our ministry work on earth is either our death or Christ’s return…it has been said that “sometimes our most productive years of spiritual service come after our productive years of earthly toil” Darrel Bock

As you wait, watch, worship, and work in your waiting, do you hear the voice of your Beloved…speaking softly to your weary soul...Is there a long-forgotten assurance He is reminding you of?  One that He has not forgotten, but that perhaps you have given up believing.  Trust Him, He has not forsaken you or the promise He made to your hungry heart long ago…He is Faithful and Trustworthy.  It will come to pass but it may not happen when we expect it or in the way we desire but better!!  People like Simeon and Anna teach us that.  

Blessings my friends,

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