Monday, December 9, 2013
In Her Sandals -- Women of Christmas
My story is a story of how dreams change over a lifetime.
Like any girl, growing up I wanted to marry and have my own household, and for a very brief time I had that dream. You see, my husband died after we had only been married for seven years. Seven very short years. What happens next is really not important. I never remarried. Now I’m so old the detail are a haze anyway. So, please forgive me if my mind is hazy on the past. I am, after all, 106 years old, or somewhere thereabouts. My once eternal youth beauty has been exchanged for gray hair and wrinkles. My naiveness has given way to hard won wisdom. My will, well, my will has long since come under the way of the Almighty.
There comes a time when a widow comes to the realization that her true husband is Yahweh. He alone can protect and provide. He’s the One I serve now, and I am content and happy in doing so. The years of looking for a husband have long since gone. Yahweh’s the only One I serve. I’m guessing somewhere in my sixties, I started coming to the Temple daily and serving God. I figure if I’m still here on this earth, there’s a reason, so I better be about my Father’s business. The Temple is my favorite place to be. It’s my happy place. I love seeing people come with their families. I love ministering to those in need, those who are discouraged, those who just need a hug. I can be found here anytime night or day. Let’s face it, when you get to be my age, we take frequent naps during the day, go to bed with the birds and up with the rooster. Anytime I’m awake though, I’m at the Temple.
Some things you should know about me is that my name means grace. My daddy’s name was Phanuel. His name has an alternate - Penuel, which means face of God. Wouldn’t that be awesome to see the face of God!? I’ve heard people of old having dreams and visions, but it’ been over 400 years since God made His presence known. I have heard tell though that Zechariah saw an angel or had a vision when he was in the Holy of Holies. I cannot tell you how excited that made me. Then I’ve also heard that God sent an angel to a young woman. I cannot wait to meet her, to hear what she was told. I pray for the day that I can hear her speak, the truth she will say. I want God to move. I want to feel His presence, to see a sign or something for myself. I know that’s selfish, but I’m an old lady give me that one indulgence, okay?
My family and heritage is important to me. I am of the tribe of Asher. It’s not a well-known tribe. No one famous ever came from Asher. We don’t have any famous musicians, judges, kings, rulers or warriors. Asher means fortune or happiness. My tribe is mentioned all throughout the Old Testament and is even in Revelations. You see, my tribe started with Jacob’s eighth son was born to Zilpah (his concubine) because Leah couldn’t have children. Jacob blessed Asher saying that Asher would have rich food that he would give a king. In the wilderness marches we numbered 53,400, and when we were given our assigned portion of the promise land, we couldn’t drive out the Canaanites and had to live among them. I think we were absorbed into their culture. It happens.
I fast. Trust me when I say, I won’t die from fasting. I don’t do it every day, but I do it regularly. I tell you this, so you understand my devotion to God and that even I get my attention drawn off of what is important. Fasting draws me closer to God. Fasting requires me to put down the things that I desire or think I need or want and put God first. He does not deny me what I need. I have fasted from speaking and meditated on the Scripture I had memorized. I have fasted certain foods or wine. Whatever God calls me to fast, I do, and I do it willingly and happily. Sometimes I fast on behalf of someone who needs a miracle, but most of the time when I fast, I’m pleading for the Messiah to come.
I pray. I pray without ceasing. When I see someone walk into the Temple, I say their names to God, and if I know their need, I raise it up in prayer. If I don’t know their name, sometime I give them a name or I point them out to God. He knows for whom I pray.
Some of my most favorite times in the Temple are when families bring their babies in to make a purification offering. The baby boys are brought a month and ten days after they are born, and his parents make a sacrifice on behalf of the mother who gave birth. It’s also a time that the first born son is consecrated to the Lord. What an honorable time in a new parent’s life in dedicating their baby to God. I no longer watch the ceremony. I watch the parents’ faces, and from time-to-time, the baby upstages the whole show by doing something unexpected. Such sweet memories as the life of a family truly begins. Sweet, sweet, sweet.
There are other people serving in the Temple as well. There’s a man named Simeon. I got to see him filled with the Spirit of God. HOW EXCITING! Simeon is a great godly man. He said the Spirit told him that he would see the consolation of Israel. That kind of thing gives me goose bumps! I keep a close watch on Simeon. I want to know when God keeps His promise to Simeon in the hopes that I too will have that same blessing. I cannot compare my anticipation of the Messiah to anything I’ve ever known. It just wells up in me, and I cannot contain it.
It was during one of these welling-up times that I feel the Spirit. I get so excited. I start looking. I don’t move as fast as I once did, and I’m not as stable on my feet as when I was young, but the Spirit is urging me and moving me. If I had a beautiful singing voice, I’d be singing at the top of my lungs. I see Simeon talking to a young couple holding a baby, and he’s praying over them. I move as quickly as my feeble legs will carry me, tears of joy running down my face, this overwhelming Spirit causes me to speak. I move in, and I see the face of the Messiah! I raise my hands in worship. I have seen his face! Hallelujah! I’ve seen the face of the Messiah. Phanuel’s daughter, tribe of Asher, Anna saw the face of Jesus! I can’t help myself. Before hearing Simeon speak, I knew this infant in arms was the Son of God. My enthusiasm and excitement could not possibly be contained. People are looking at me. Once they make eye contact, it’s too late for them. I started bringing them over. People who needed redemption and grace. I told them this was the long-awaited Messiah. Long after Joseph and Mary left the temple with Jesus, I was still telling people about looking into the face of Jesus. I told them to keep an eye out, to keep tabs on him as he grew up that he would do great things. I told them to expect it. I won’t live to see it, but they need to know that he’s here. He’s actually here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, God, for allowing me the blessing of seeing the face of my Savior. I am truly favored and blessed.