It was a divine moment in time–one of those fleeting opportunities to experience glory. And one woman was ready. She isn’t remembered all that much in the Christmas story, but she was there–faithfully serving, hoping, and waiting.
At Christmastime we hear about the angels who announced Jesus’ birth. We remember the shepherds who ran back and told everyone the Messiah had been born.
We especially recall the obedience and faith of a young couple, Mary and Joseph, who sacrificed their reputation and plans for the future in order to obey the call of God on their lives.
But we rarely hear the story of Anna, a prophetess who recognized the divine gift of the Baby and shared that news with others.
Married for only seven years and widowed until she was eighty-four, Anna was a devoted woman of God who spent her life seeking and serving her God.
“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”Luke 2:36-37, NIV 84
When Mary and Joseph showed up at the temple to present their firstborn and dedicate Him to the Lord according to the Law, Anna was ready and waiting to experience His presence and to proclaim the news.
“Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”Luke 2:38
Anna could have missed this moment in time, but because of her devotion to God, she was privileged to experience the most spectacular event in human history–God becoming a man to save us.
Anna’s example teaches us five ways we can live a life of devotion to God.
First, Anna was a prophetess. She used the gifts God gave her to serve Him faithfully. Anna didn’t use loss or age as excuses. She devoted her life to serving God no matter what.
Second, she stayed in the presence of God. Historians have noted that Herod’s temple was very large and included many rooms, including places that Anna may have been allowed to live in.
We don’t really know the details of why she stayed at the temple, but we do know that the temple was the only place for the Jews where God’s presence dwelt. For her, being close to God was how she determined to live out her years.
Third, Anna worshiped day and night with prayer and fasting. Worship is an attitude of the heart. As Anna went about the duties of the temple, her heart was always in tune with God through prayer and through fasting.
Fourth, Anna thanked God for the gift of His Son. She knew the significance of the Baby being dedicated to God that day. She knew the salvation of all mankind was before her, something she had waited for all her life. And her heart was thankful that God had fulfilled His promise.
Last, she proclaimed the news of what God had done. The glory had returned to the temple! She proclaimed that the Redeemer promised through the prophet Isaiah had come at last. It wasn’t news her little 84-year-old body could keep to herself.
What if we lived like Anna? What if we resolved that from here on out, we are going to live our lives as if nothing else mattered but Jesus? What would that look like for you and me?
Can we devote ourselves to use the gifts God has given us to serve Him–no excuses? Can we abide in His presence, even as we work and love and care for those around us?
Do you think we can let a heart of worship be our lifestyle, our spirits connecting with God’s, our desire for more of Him outweighing our concern for ourselves? Would we be willing to fast and pray for more of God in our lives?
Can we live each moment with gratitude, even when there is loss and pain in the midst of it?
And do we dare to proclaim to all those in need of redemption that the Savior has come? It’s not just a cute Christmas story. It’s the truth of all human existence and for all eternity.
We will fail. We will be tested and challenged. But I would rather seek to live a life of devotion to God even in my failures, than to continue to live with any less than all He died to give us.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”Philippians 3:7-9
How about you? Do you want to live a life of devotion to God? The decision to pursue God with all your heart will be a defining moment in time.
Don’t miss it.