In an instant, years of waiting and heartache melted into the distant past. The Promise made by the Holy Spirit lay before his blurring eyes in the arms of a timid teen mother.
Unable to contain his joy, he rushed to the young couple as quickly as his veteran legs could carry him. With a pleading look the couple interpreted before he arrived, they released their 8-day-old infant into his aching arms as he gingerly but exuberantly lifted Him to the heavens in praise and thanksgiving.
And (Simeon) took Him in his arms and blessed God saying, “Lord, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation.” Luke 2:28-29
A righteous and devout man (Luke 2:25), Simeon waited for what may have been decades to see the promised, long-awaited Messiah before death.
Yes, Jesus was promised for all mankind, but Simeon was given a special, personal assurance: he was promised a visual sighting of the Lord’s Messiah before passing from this life into glory.
We are not told when the Holy Spirit revealed the coming of this intimate visitation; he must have struggled with longing tucked deep inside while waiting.
As Simeon religiously visited the Temple, I wonder if the hope of today being the day of salvation ever rose and fell like the tide in his soul. The tide is always moving within its established rhythm—a steady, circular path.
But while our faith is always on the move, its path is not dependent on the predictable, gravitational force of the moon but on the irresistible force of God’s love upon the human soul.
What sustained Simeon’s faith as his eyes dimmed with age? Could it have been his belief in God and His promise for what he could not yet see, especially when the days were darkest?
Was the day God fulfilled His promise different from any other day Simeon willed his creaky body up the familiar road? How did the Holy Spirit “lead him to the Temple?” Was it a nudge, a dream, or a whispering wind?
What a paradox when he scooped the Baby from the arms of His perplexed mother…
Simeon held the One who would one day hold him for all eternity.
With this fresh revelation, was Simeon now satiated in hope, so much so nothing could steal his joy—neither Romans nor taxes, hardship nor death?
“Lord, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace.” These are the words of a man unafraid to die. A man ready to meet his Lord and Creator with a full heart.
It begs the question: am I waiting well—with hope and longing—for Heaven or God’s return?
My daughter and I recently re-watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third in Disney’s Chronicles of Narnia trilogy. Watching the final scene—Reepicheep sailing for Aslan’s Country—I asked myself:
Will people remember me as one who yearned more for Heaven or for the things of earth?
“Your Eminence, ever since I can remember, I’ve dreamt of seeing your country. I’ve had many adventures in this world, but nothing has dampened that yearning. I know I’m hardly worthy, but with your permission, I would lay down my sword for the joy of seeing your country with my own eyes.” Reepicheep*
CS Lewis wrote in a letter about his fictional mouse, “…anyone in our world who devotes his whole life to seeking Heaven will be like Reepicheep.”
What would it look like to devote my life to “thinking about things of heaven” (Col.3:2a), longing for what I cannot see? How will it change the way I make decisions, interact with others, and live today?
Is it possible, practical, or even sustainable?
Some would say no, but upon closer observation of Simeon’s life, and even a fictional, Narnian mouse, I would argue it’s not only possible, but I will find more joy, hope, and purpose longing for Heaven (or His return) while living out my days on this messy, broken, blue ball we call home.
There’s no way I can be “so heavenly-minded that I’m no earthly good.” How do I know?
I look at real people like Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Simeon. They waited and longed for something beyond themselves. Upon receiving it their paths were forever changed, altering the trajectory of humanity through profound yet possible acts of faith.
This sparks hope into my waiting, weary soul; I become easily distracted, focusing on my problems, searching for the world’s solutions promising fulfillment and significance, only to leave me bitter, empty, and hopeless.
But reminding myself of Simeon’s posture of waiting blows fresh faith into my soul as I timidly stare down another New Year.
What are you staring into as you ring in the New Year? An abyss of unfixed problems, unmet needs, or unmended relationships?
Research shows beginnings are the best time to start something new. A new year or month is the perfect time to ask where your heart’s deepest longings lay and listen for the answer.
This week, will you join me in praying about how and when we can long for what is not seen while living in what’s so visibly broken?
For Simeon, his wait was worth every difficult circumstance and uncertain moment. He focused on the Promise, his perseverance culminating in unconfined joy and permanent peace!
The only way the kingdom of God is going to be manifest in this world is…by the way we live as citizens of heaven and subjects of the King. RC Sproul
*Image of Reepicheep from Disney’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader.