Patience. It’s an attribute we rarely see in such a fast paced world. But we see a beautiful display of a life steeped in the glory of patience in Luke 2:22-38.
Simeon was a man who was waiting on God-literally. God had promised him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. So, day in, day out, he went into the temple anticipating the day when his eyes would see the salvation of Israel; when his promise would be realized. We’re not real sure how long he had been waiting or how old he was. All the Sunday School pictures I’ve ever seen show an old man, on the threshold of death. Scholars believe he probably was elderly. Yet, we have no idea because Scripture is silent on the subject. Maybe the silence was intentional so that this mans example of patience while waiting would speak to all ages. It occurred to me as I peered into the life of this ancient man; you don’t have to be old to be waiting on God. People of all ages find themselves in a period where we are waiting on God to come and act. Are you waiting on something? Then you know how painful the sound of the clock can be. Every passing moment leaves the promises of God unfulfilled and your heart longing….longing to see His salvation.
No matter his age, Simeon was a devout man. Not because of anything he did or didn’t do but because he was submitted to the timing of God. He knew what God had told him and he trusted Him to fulfill it. He didn’t question if he would get to see the Messiah because God told him he would. He may have been waiting for years… waiting on God to do what He said He would. Then one day, a day just like every other, the Word made flesh was carried into the temple by the arms of a poor young couple. At that moment the Shakienah glory entered the temple once again (It left in Ez 10) and the aging priest saw the fulfillment of His promise.
I love the description of Simeon in verse 25. It says he was waiting, devout and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Think about how hard it is to stay devout while waiting.
The Greek definition of devout is ( eulabes) taking well, careful, circumspect. The word for wait is prosdechomai- to wait with patience and confidence.
As Heaven closed up for 400 years (The world was in a dry spell. The tongue of God had be still for 400 years.) Simeon took all the circumstances into speculation. He stood on the promise of God and looked at the circumstances. He didn’t stand on the circumstances and look at Gods promise. To stay devout in the midst of a drought calls for this kind of perspective. If we are waiting on God and we look through the dry circumstances around us we will wither up. Yet if we look at those same circumstances through the promises God made then even though its dry all around us- our souls will not be.
Things tend to dry out as time goes on: paint, bones, clothes, land. To suck the moisture out of an object we allow it to sit, especially in the heat or under the sun. Our souls tend to do the same thing. As we wait on God we will have to fight to keep our “moisture” to keep the refreshment of the Spirit. We will have to fight the dryness with this outlook or our perspective will dry us out. We will become dehydrated. The uncertainty of the dry season will draw out our vitality.
Yet we see a man, who had been waiting. Waiting on the promise of God to be fulfilled and yet he had not dried out. He still had a robustness about him, he was still thriving despite the dry conditions.
His roots were deep.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
He didn’t worry about how long the drought was nor about the crop because his trust was placed solely on the head of God, resting in the security of His heart and will, not on circumstances. Not trusting in time but in God.
We are much too fickle with our devotion. We place it in many things…but the one that often goes unnoticed is the sly god of time. We watch it, we account for every minute… yet instead of us taking hold of it somehow it takes hold of us and we are driven by the tyranny of the urgent. Driven by something we can never grasp, slaves to the tick of the clock. That’s why we look for it to come through for us. That’s why we buy into the lie “time heals all things”. It doesn’t. Ask anyone who has buried a child or lost a spouse or ask someone whose dreams have been dashed. Time doesn’t heal, the Lord heals. Yet we look for it to, we demand a lot out of time that it simply cannot give; healing, restoration, hope, fulfillment, satisfaction, purpose. Time is a vehicle God uses for the eternal to be manifested in the visible realm. The clock was set into motion to work for eternity. Time is an agent in the hands of a timeless God. Yet when we think of time we think of restrictions, time says something has to be by a certain point or it’s marked “late”. Yet even the chains of time can not bind God. He works free from the tyranny of the urgent, He is the one who can break through the barricade of time. That’s why it’s said of him that he calls things that aren’t as though they are. (Romans 4:17) Time doesn’t restrict Him but it will restrict us when we trust in the ticks of the clock, the pages of a calendar over the hand and heart of the One who set time into motion.
Dry seasons send farmers into a panic, because they have no control over the circumstances that determines their livelihood. They ring their hands and pace around their fields; to no avail. All they can do is wait on the drought to be over. And it will be. Maybe your reading this post just to hear those words: it wont last forever. One day the skies will grow dark, pregnant with fulfillment, and then it will come. The wait will be over and your eyes will see the salvation of the Lord.
Focus on the God of the promise not on the lack of clouds.
I hate to wait. I like every minute of my day to be accounted for. Just the other day I sat at a drive through waiting on my order. I had been sitting there awhile and I felt myself growing impatient, even though I had nowhere to be or anywhere to go, I felt antsy as the minutes ticked on as I sat still. And maybe that’s why waiting is so excruciating to some; we have to be still. We as temporal creatures mark every second that can not be accounted for as time lost. If we aren’t moving and doing then we’re “wasting time” because the stamp of purpose never left its mark in the visible realm. So we pat our foot and sigh under our breath, every minute we spend waiting is a minute lost in the whirlpool of time. Yet not with an eternal God. Time spent waiting is some of the most important times we will face. It’s in the season of waiting that God cultivates and prepares us for the fulfillment of His promises. We want it now, the sooner the better, right? Why would God waste vital time and not grant His promises to us instantaneous? Because He knows that the time between the promise and the fulfillment is strategic in the process of cultivation. Just as the soil must be turned up and made ready for the seed-so we must be made ready for the fulfillment of promises. And that takes times.
As Simeon held the Messiah child in his arms, as he cradled the great I Am…all that time spent waiting, all the moments that seemed to be washed down the drain of insignificance, all the days he waited, they were worth it. Jesus is always worth the wait.
I don’t know what your waiting on in this season of your life but it’s worth it. It’ll be worth every midnight tear, every battle with doubt. For every tick of the clock that seemed wasted and forgotten will be redeemed. Stay devout. It’s key to your survival in the desert. For that kind of perspective welcomes the Spirit and He is the One that breathes vitality into our dry bones. I love Ezekiels answer when the Lord asked him if the dry bones could live; he said “O Lord God you know”.Many of us have given up on our own dry bones because we think we know. We assume it’s too late because our circumstances tell us so. Ezekiel looked at the valley of dry bones as what God said it would be, not what he saw and because he trusted the Lord would do what he said, he prophesied; he spoke as if what God said had already taken place and the Spirit took over from there. Our job in the dry times is to trust God, to cling to His word and one day we will see those dry bones dance and it will be worth the wait.