Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Anna - God's not done with me
Welcome back to our study of Anna!
We saw last time that her life was blessed by the grace of God, especially with a long life; now we want to focus on what she did with that long life He blessed her with!
.....she did not depart from the temple, but served God with
fastings and prayers night and day. (Luke 2:37b)
Anna was similar to Simeon, in that she served God fervently in the temple. This verse says she didn't even depart from the temple, but that means that she went to the temple and remained there as much as possible, Scholars tell us that nobody, not even the priests lived in the temple. The High Priest had chambers there, but even he didn't live there.
So, it means that she was there as much as possible. And the verse says that while she was there, she served God by fasting and praying night and day. What a blessing that was (and is today) to pour out upon the church and upon God's people. Researchers today tell us that older people sometimes don't need as much food and sleep as they did when they were younger. So some of our older Christian friends take the opportunity to become real prayer warriors for God. They may or may not fast; but they pray during the night, and during the day.
There are many factors that help churches and people have a healthy and fruitful ministry. One is to follow the example of Anna, and be in church worshiping God, serving Him, encouraging other Christians, and learning the Word of God. The other is to spend as much time as possible praying. I've heard it said that prayer is the lifeblood of the church -- but prayer is also a force for good in our own lives. Prayer keeps us in communication with God, and holds back the spiritual forces of darkness. Prayer is how we support one another and bolster each other in the ongoing fights of life.
Anna knew this. She was a prayer warrior. Not only did she pray, but she went the extra mile and fasted and prayed. And she did it night and day. Oh, may God strengthen us to be prayer warriors, too!
Anna also spoke of Jesus -- another way that she blessed God and others with her long life. (In case you haven't noticed, I'm preaching to the choir, here. As I get older, I need to be reminded of the things that I, myself, can do to bless others, as God blesses me with more days!)
Anna first gave thanks to God for sending the Messiah, and then -- she didn't stop there -- she went out and spoke to everyone in Jerusalem who was looking for redemption. She went about telling people that their Savior, the long-hoped-for Redeemer, had come!
We can learn a lot from Anna. She would definitely be considered elderly by today's standards. In today's world, the elderly are often discounted, even neglected, passed over. But Anna didn't think that being old meant that God was done with her! Younger folks often think that those who are older have nothing to teach; the sad part is that often the elderly folks believe it. And then there are those who are older, and they know they have a lot to teach the younger ones, but they'd rather spend their days fishing, golfing, or playing bridge. Now, that's not to say that those activities are wrong -- in fact, they have a lot of positives to them. But if our time is spent exclusively on those, and no time is left for helping the younger Christians, then something is out of whack, no?
We find some verses in Titus 2 that should help us with this balancing act. We read there that older women should teach, train, and disciple younger women on how to be good mothers and wives. It says that older men can pass on great skills and truths to younger men. Those who are older have priceless lessons and years of wisdom that they can pass on to those who are younger -- and it's not just about cooking and gardening and parenting, although those are wonderful lessons to pass along -- but we need to pass on truths from the Bible, too. Gentle words spoken that encourage prayer, teach how to resist temptation, and keep the light burning faithfully are so, so important for the younger Christians to hear.
We have a lot to look forward to, in "retirement." We are released from our working responsibilities so that we can devote more time and effort to a ministry, or to mentoring younger Christians. Perhaps instead of calling it "retirement" we should call it "transition." We can transition from working at a job, to working for God -- wherever! Our years spent working in the world can actually be super preparation for what God wants us to do in our later years!
What life-skills and lessons have we learned that we can pass along? Can we minister to the needs of others? Anna was still serving God; it was as if she thought, "God's not done with me." Whether we are young and active, and busy in the world, or if we are older and able to serve God with more of our time, let's use the time, abilities, and talents that God has given us.
I can assure you -- God will bless us as we serve Him!
We'll conclude our study of Anna tomorrow.