I remember her taking my hand not long after we had moved into our new residence around 1996 and telling me that she was praying that our house would always be a place of peace, praise and refuge to anyone who came in the door. And you know, over the years since then we have had countless friends, relatives and even a few strangers who we invited in comment about how peaceful our home was!
In fact, now that I think about it… that was already happening in every house we had previously lived in! From the young guy that passed out at the door of the first apartment we lived in, the Mormon neighbor across the street at the next house who came over asking us to pray for his hurting back, to the teenage deaf girl who frantically knocked at our front door many years later as she had been recently assaulted, to the beer truck driver in that same neighborhood who would come by asking me to tie the knot on his tie when he was forced to attend a formal event.
My wife just expected those kinds of things to happen… and they did! It reminds me of today’s Monday, the third week of Advent reading. Here we find a couple of senior citizens who were very expectant of the fulfillment of the scriptures concerning the coming Messiah to happen within their lifetime. They never gave up even though I bet they received quite a bit of skepticism from those around them throughout the years.
These two special people simply KNEW God! They had an intimate experiential knowledge of Him, His Word and His promises and they were not about to let go of what they knew to be true! I also would venture to say that they talked about their expectations all the time, and because it was of God, it most likely filled many others with peace, praise and a refuge from the troubles they faced in their lives. Do you have a similar kind of expectation about you? Do other people get excited about the things of God when they are around them? Think about that today as you read the beginning of the third week of Advent blog postings today.
Monday, the third week of Advent
Today’s Readings: Isaiah 49:6/ Luke 2:21-38 / I Peter 2: 3-8
Many years ago there was an older man who was on the board of directors of our church. He was a deeply spiritual man and the presence of the Lord just seemed to radiate from him. It was the Pastor’s custom near the beginning of each monthly board meeting to ask each member if they had anything that they wanted to share. Brother Chester always had a word that normally turned into a 15-30 minute sermon where he would share a bit of insight on something that the Lord had taught him over the years.
While some of the board members would grow impatient or raise an eyebrow as he started talking in his slow country drawl, I would find myself expectantly poised with pencil in hand; ready to record the gems that he was about to share. There was just something special about this unique Senior Citizen. He could have been anybody’s grandfather with his snow white hair and easy going personality. But this kindly gentlemen KNEW God! When he spoke you had the instant understanding that he spent a lot of time in the presence of God! When he spoke at our meetings concerning a need or situation that the church was facing you knew that he had, in common vernacular, “Been there, done that and won the tee-shirt!”
When I saw Chester, I saw the love of God in action! I had the honor of officiating at this special man of God’s graveside service when he passed on into glory. It was a wonderful day as everyone there was exuberant about his life and his new residence at home with our heavenly Father. I still have the notes from that service, and in fact, carry them around with me in my notebook that I use every day!
Today’s section in our continuing look at the original story of Christmas brings to my remembrance the qualities that my older friend possessed and freely shared with those around him. As Joseph and Mary came into the temple in order to complete the requirements of presenting their first born son to the Lord, they were met by two special Senior Citizens. Both Simeon and Anna radiated the love of God in their lives. They were two individuals who loved the Lord with all their hearts. The writer also makes it clear that they, like Chester, KNEW the Lord.
As Jesus came to be a comfort to all of those who would accept Him, Simeon and Anna must have been a great comfort to Joseph and Mary as they began the very important call that had been thrust upon their lives. To me it would be similar to the comfort that loving, caring and understanding grandparents impart to their grandchildren. And once again, Joseph and Mary discovered two more saintly people who knew and understood the task that lay before them.
The excitement that Simeon and Anna must have felt at that defining moment in their lives is quite evident by the words that they spoke that day. They had waited their whole lives for this time, and finally it was upon them. Both of them were content that they could now pass on into glory, for as Simeon joyously declared, “my eyes have seen your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples.” (Luke 2:30-31 NKJV)
My desire is to be like Simeon, Anna and my old friend Chester. To live a life filled with expectancy in seeing the promises of God coming to pass in my life, as well as in the lives of those around me. I want to KNOW God as these unique Senior Citizens did. When I walk into a room I desire that those there will sense the presence of God and then hunger and thirst after the righteousness that only Jesus can satisfy them with. I want my life to be an open book that shares the goodness, the faithfulness and the non-judgmental love of God to all I touch. How about you?
As you study the interactions of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Simeon and Anna today, I would encourage you to allow the joy and long simmering expectancy that radiated in that temple court to attach itself to you. Then take it, develop it in you and spread it throughout your world in the coming New Year! You might even want to take a clean sheet of paper and write across the top: “What am I expecting this New Year?” Then attach the paper to your refrigerator door and jot down whatever comes to your heart throughout the remainder of this month. And then when January arrives, you’ll have your personal goal sheet for the next year! Have a great week. Stay in tune to His word, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”