Luke 2:22-40 CEB Below text is edited. For complete text click the scripture reference to the left.
Expectation and anticipation. Those are difficult words for today's culture to grasp. We live in a society where our answers are no more than a smartphone away. Getting what we want is no further than a 5-20 minutes drive to a super center. I can remember a time when I thought it was cool to get a coloring page from a website and it only took 1-2 minutes for the page to load and just about as long for it to print out. There was a time when people ordered goods from a catalog and maybe 2-3 weeks later the item would arrive. And people saved up their money in tins and jars months in advance to purchase those items. Expectation and anticipation were vitally important once. We replaced those words with immediate gratification. We have trouble living in expectation because expectation means the answers and actions haven't arrived yet. Anticipating leaves us frustrated and anxious. When everything is in one's hands now, 'later' is only something to lose patience over.
Simeon and Anna help us understand the joy in expectation and anticipation. Simeon spent his life anticipating a restoration of Israel. Anticipating is a waiting game. We teach our children a form of anticipation when when start putting presents under the Christmas Tree and tell them they cannot open them until December 25th. That anticipation is only days away while Simeon had to wait a lifetime. Real and good change is difficult to accomplish on a short term scale so it requires anticipation. It is a lesson I am witness to. For anyone who seriously wants to hear my call story I always explain it as the slow and steady path. God has never given me the road side visitation. I haven't been transformed with blinding truth. God's patience has slowly moved me in the right direction. As I look back on my life I see the small moments where God's small still voice has influenced my choices. It took a lifetime to get me to the point where I would be ready to start a church. Yet, when I decided to begin the new church start journey I initially thought it had to be done quickly. I read a book from Nelson Searcy who said church starts should go big, go quick or go home. (My version of his words.) My experience has been different. The pre-launch should go slow, methodical, and with God driven purpose. I feel like I am building something. Everyone who has followed Fig Tree up to this point is experiencing the skeleton. The skeleton is important because it tells the body of the creation how it can and cannot move. The skeleton gives purpose. On March 16th we will finally meet the people who will put meat on these bones and get them moving in ways that are amazing. If I did not have the Simeonesk patience and anticipation, I never would have let the spirit guide my movements to get me this far.
Anna lived her life in expectation. I say this because she was a prophet. Anyone who truly thinks they are receiving a message from God does not carry themselves like the plan will not happen. These people are confident in their call. These people can make the 'average' person uncomfortable. They live outside the ordinary into the realm of extraordinary. They know what tomorrow brings but they don't exactly know how it is going to happen. It wasn't that Anna anticipated the possibility of a savior, she expected it. The Gospel writer in Luke liked to pair male stories with female stories, therefore, we have Simeon and Anna. I say, sometimes we need Anna's to help us be like Simeon. We need to hear from people who can expect the truth so we can then anticipate the results. Either way, it is not immediate gratification. Taking the easy way out is almost always the wrong choice. Even if your story is a road side conversion, the work after the blinding light is a lifetime endevore.
We need to learn the joy and wonder of the waiting game. If we can stop seeking life in our timing and start accepting it on God's time, we can allow the Spirit to move us to see God's plan. God doesn't always do things quickly. God does things right.