New Years brings anticipation. Anticipation of what is ahead and an opportunity to leave the past behind. We have no idea what lies ahead in 2012. I certainly hope it is better than 2011. But regardless our hope is in God. We bnelieve Jeremiah 29:11. Simeon is someone we should study and emulate when it comes to anticipation.
Simeon was a remarkable man. He had lived a long, full life. I can imagine his parents had raised him in the synagogue and taught him all that the prophets had foretold about the coming Messiah. Now he is an old man. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about Simeon except that he believed the promise of God. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Simeon had cherished in his heart the hope that before he died he would see the Messiah. He waited year after year.
What made Simeon believe that God would actually break His centuries-long silence during his lifetime? Did Simeon really think this moment in history was the time for the Messiah? Surely many people in previous generations had hoped theirs would be the moment. Why here? Why now? But Simeon wasn’t moved by circumstances or events. Simeon simply kept on trusting God to keep His promise.
I’m sure not every day of his life was exceptional. Nonetheless, day by day Simeon put one foot in front of the other, fulfilling his devotion to God and trusting that God’s timing was better than his own. I wonder how many faces Simeon studied as he walked to the temple each day. Could that be the Messiah? Could that man be the one? Is this the day? I would have given up hope, but Simeon stayed faithful, cultivating his relationship with the Lord and keeping watch for the promise that had been given to him.
Imagine with me the scene at the temple the day that Jesus, just eight days old, is brought for dedication to the Lord. It is an ordinary day. People are coming and going. Rituals are being observed. There are no signs to indicate anything special is about to happen. The temple officials and priests go about their many tasks. Worshippers fulfill their ritual obligations. Then a young couple enters the temple courts, carrying their infant son to present him to the Lord and to offer the required sacrifice. The couple is very poor, only able to offer two turtledoves as prescribed by the Law.
Simeon is in the temple that day, and he notices the young couple. He sees them. He sees their baby. Whatever might have been in his heart, Simeon allows God to be God. He looks at the baby and he knows: This is the Christ, the Messiah! What were Simeon’s thoughts? We can only imagine the joy. Wonder. Awe. Relief. I wonder if he clapped his hands and laughed. I am sure he was itching to get his hands on that child. Any grandparent knows the feeling!
I can see Simeon approaching the couple slowly, reverently. His eyes see so much. Not only the little family but the future. Was he afraid? Certainly he trusted God. Imagine the awe he must have felt. He doesn’t yell out and say, “Look here people! This is the Messiah come to rescue us! Stop what you are doing. God has come as He promised.” He doesn’t draw attention to himself. Nor does he rush God’s process of revelation. Simeon is discreet. He is a man who walks in step with the Lord. He exercises wisdom, allowing God to unfold His plans in His own way.
Simeon approaches gently and holds out his arms, asking permission to hold the child. He holds the baby close. Smells His baby smell. Looks into those eternal eyes and knows he holds the Savior of the world to his heart. What must he have felt? What were his emotions? Inexplicable joy. Gratitude. Praise. Tears must have coursed down that old weathered face. At that moment, the hope of his life is being fulfilled! Not necessarily as he expected. Or when he expected. But God had fulfilled the long-awaited hope.
As we enter 2011 may we all learn from Simeon: He believed and anticipated the promises; he was a man of hope; he trusted God; he faithfully served in the meantime; he cultivated his relationship with God and he allowed God to be God.
(adapted from Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There)