It’s Anna again. For sixty years she persisted. I’m not sure I could persist in praying for anything for sixty years! Anna wasn’t the only one, however, as Simeon too ‘was righteous and devout’ and getting on a bit. Like Anna, he was well known for things too frequently crowded out of our lives to the extent they’re obscured from view in the eyes of those around us. I wonder why that might the case? Advent is a good time to look back to where we were last year and reflect on a couple of deeply personal questions.
Where could I have been more intentional this year?
Where could I have been more persistent this year?
These days I don’t often need to rely upon my compass when out walking … because I can afford a decent map, GPS tends towards relying on technology for locating both where I am and which direction I need to go, plus I’m more usually not walking out of sight of observable landmarks. However, it remains the case whether physically, or spiritually, walking in unknown territory we accept our responsibility for both accepting the need to walk in a particular direction and taking definite steps, if we’re ever to arrive. What would someone else observe of the intention and direction of our walk this year if measured against us being ‘righteous and devout’? That’s where, at least, an honest, open, annual self-appraisal is hugely beneficial.
Recently Jim Graham spoke at our Leadership Teams gathering in WEBA, ‘too many leaders give up too soon, too easily’. I’m struck by the seemingly consistent trait among explorers, inventors, adventurers and the kind of Christian leaders we all want to emulate … the one shared with Anna and Simeon – patient persistence. Check out the lives of people like Abraham Lincoln, William Carey, Ernest Shackleton, or George Muller.
We might not look upon ourselves as comparable with Anna, or Simeon, but dare we take a step in their direction?
How many days, I wonder, did Anna and Simeon leave the Temple, feeling their prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling? We’ll never know, because whatever their setbacks, feelings, distractions, temptations, they didn’t give up. It’s this need to develop patient persistence, as Eugene Peterson puts it ‘a long obedience in the same direction’, which turns a good idea, or righteous desire, into reality
Prayer: Dear Lord, show me where I have lost sight of the destination to be more like Jesus in my life. Help me, as we celebrate your coming as the light of the world, to fix my eyes more clearly upon you. Reveal to me enough light for my journey, so I might see my next steps more clearly. Give me all I need, by your Holy Spirit, so Jesus might be more clearly seen in my life this day. Amen