There are things we all look back on and say, “I wish I hadn’t hedged my bets. I wish I hadn’t let fear or the opinions of others get the best of me.” Sometimes you have to commit your life to things that involve waiting to see the fruit.
The waiting is not the obstacle; it’s the point.
This was an acceptable sacrifice if you were very poor. A lamb was the usual sacrifice, but it tells us something about Mary and Joseph's financial and social state. This has been challenging for them and on them.
What’s the “consolation of Israel?” It’s the promise of Messiah, one who would redeem the people – occupied, oppressed, under Roman rule.
Simeon has been waiting a very long time. Anna had been waiting a very long time. At this point, not many people take the idea of a Messiah very seriously. It’s more of a myth or legend that people recall to feel better.
But there were a few crazy people who held onto it. Simeon has been holding onto it. Anna experienced profound loss when her husband died early in her adult life. It could have left her destitute, but she fills that space with purpose instead.
What if God is calling you to fill that space with prayer, to faithfulness, with Him?
We like the energy of new because it gives us instant momentum. But think about the reality of a new year. A new number. Another turn around the sun. The change is less real than we think, but it gives us a sense of momentum.
Maybe a new year isn’t so much a time to begin a new thing but a time to stay faithful to an old thing.
You know you need to stay faithful to something in your heart of hearts, but the energy is gone because of the time that has passed. A principle. A commitment. A person. Our culture is all about the shortcut – the instant gratification. But we grow the most in the waiting.
God intentionally makes us wait – on purpose.
There’s something that develops in us in faithful waiting. When we wait, there’s a space where something can grow.
So how do we wait well?
It’s all about how we view the waiting. Do we see it as an obstacle or an opportunity? Waiting can either sap our will or heighten our desperation. And desperation breeds incredible clarity. Our lives often lack purpose because we have too many, not too few, options.
Don’t be surprised if God’s fulfillment of your waiting comes in unexpected packaging.
Look at our story. It always aligns with His word but may not look like you thought. Simeon even prophesies that the Messiah will not bring unity but division – Jesus is polarizing. If you follow Jesus with your life, it will be a polarizing decision.
There are things, ways of living, patterns of action, ways of thinking, even other people, and things that demand your ultimate loyalty that you will have to leave behind to follow Jesus.
Speaking to Mary, Simeon says, “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” He’s speaking prophetically of the loss she’ll experience when Jesus is crucified. It’s very easy to turn this talking into a moralistic, the best things come to those who wait message.
Life is more complex than that.
Yes, it will be worth it. Yes, there will be a payoff, meaning, and purpose. But there will also be pain, loss, and even mourning. Not understanding why or how. It’s the acceptance of the right pain. Not avoiding, like our culture teaches us. But instead receiving and navigating it well.
Simeon dedicated his life to this. He even held out until it happened. And until it happened, I’m sure it sometimes seemed pointless, even hopeless. But then it happens, and he says, “I’m good. I can go now. This was worth it.”
Remember why these were written as songs: the early church sang them to remind themselves of things that were easy to forget. The waiting will be worth it.
What are you dedicating your life to? Is it worth it? Will it be worth it? The way to know if the payoff is worth it is by traveling to the end and looking back.
Having the right perspective of the end gives you the power to wait in the middle.
Without keeping this perspective of the end, it will be difficult to stay the course when it seems like it’s a long road and no one else is doing it. Deciding to live this way will be polarizing to you and those around you.
Stay the course. Don’t compromise. Don’t give up or give in. In the end, it will be worth it.
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