Monday, December 08, 2008

Advent Reflections on Simeon

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26).

I can imagine that for a moment he thought about not going. Missing this one day wouldn’t really matter. The place was large and busy. No one would miss him. And besides, he was feeling how the years had settled on his bones like rust. For a while it seemed like this would be a day to stay at home and be still.

I imagine him alone in his house. His wife has been dead for years. He’s seen most of his friends leave this life, and he wonders from time to time why he hasn’t been allowed to join them, why he’s still here.

But those thoughts never linger for long. He knows why he’s here. And he knows why, once he’s been up and moving for a while, he’ll walk yet again to the temple for a time of prayer. The Holy Spirit has revealed to Simeon that he will not die until he sees the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). This is what Simeon lives for. This is what gets him up every morning and braces him against the pain of old age.

This is why Simeon knows he will not stay home today.

I admire Simeon. I want to be like him, at least in this regard: he reached the end of his life with a reason to get out of bed every morning. Plenty of people have a reason, or think they do. And the reason seems worthy, bearing the weight of their lives and hope and dreams. But far too many of those reasons eventually show themselves flimsy and brittle.

Some of us get up every morning for the job, or perhaps the job track. Years blend into decades as we get up to work hard and be rewarded with the next job. We continue to face the world daily, working harder and aiming at larger rewards, more responsibility, the next title. This serves us well for a while, until one day we see the end of the track. We see it at a distance at first and we ignore it. But the track ends. It may end very well, leaving us financially secure and highly esteemed by others in the profession. But still, it ends. And then the question of what gets us up in the morning has to be answered again.

Many of us get up every morning for the family. The job is important, but only because others are depending on you. Maybe what gets you up is the litany of need that seems to define your life. Children must be fed and taken to school and then picked up for piano lessons or baseball practice after which they need a decent meal before getting a bath and practicing the saxophone for 15 minutes just before they review for their vocabulary quiz.

But with staggering suddenness those kids graduate and marry and have kids of their own. This is as it should be. But what gets you out of bed now? What do you live for?

All of us need something to live for. We may need several things to live for, and many things require our best energies, our best years. The question that needs to be continually asked and answered is this: am I living for something that matters?

Simeon did. Simeon lived for nothing less than the chance to see God’s saving work. That’s worth living for. That will get you up every day with expectation. Whether you’re tending your career or tending your family, it is God’s presence in this world that gives our lives worth and meaning.

What are living for today? What energized you as you dressed this morning and faced the world? And finally . . . is it worthy?

Gracious God, I want to live this day and every day for something worthy. Because of your grace, my life is full of many things and this day presents me with much to do. All of these things are good. Help me to do these good things as I live for you and you alone. Make me expectant today, looking for your presence in every conversation and every task. Amen.

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