Friday, January 4, 2013

Just What We Always Wanted

On Christmas Eve we celebrated the birth of Christ and exchanged gifts with my family at my youngest sister's house. She and her husband parent our three youngest nephews, whom we will call for blogging purposes Rocky and the Thunder Twins.

These boys have been thoroughly taught about the true meaning of Christmas. Nonetheless, they were extremely excited about the presents given and received that day. So eager were they, in fact, that when they weren't opening their own gifts they helpfully volunteered to help the grown-ups open theirs.

Somewhere in the middle of the unwrapping, as piles of toys and empty boxes accumulated in the living area, the twins opened remote-controlled monster trucks and Rocky, who at three years of age has not quite attained to the glory of RC toys, opened his gift, a toy eighteen-wheeler with shelves inside the trailer on which to store and transport his collection of small toy cars.

When the contents of the package were revealed to him, he gasped. His face lit up with the biggest, brightest grin, his brown eyes crinkled and twinkled into two points of starlight beneath those long lashes, and he exclaimed, "I wanted this! I wanted this!!!" That utter joy of desire fulfilled unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes.

Thinking this week about Jesus' early childhood after the stable and the angels and the shepherds and the star, my thoughts naturally turn to Simeon (Luke 2:22-35).

After the days of Mary's purification from childbirth were complete (which Lev. 12:1ff. specifies as 33), she and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the temple to offer the required sacrifices. Luke says they brought "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" (2:24), and Leviticus informs us that this was the offering of the poorest of the poor, who could not afford to offer a lamb (Lev. 12:6-8).

Simeon was "righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel [i.e., Messiah], and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ [again, Messiah or Anointed One]" (Luke 2:25-26, NASB). On this particular morning when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus came to offer sacrifices, that same Spirit led him to the temple as well. When Simeon saw this impoverished family with birds in hand, he took into his arms that tiny infant who could not even hold His head up yet, and he said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32, NASB).

In other words, "I wanted this! I wanted Him! I have seen Your salvation, Lord, and now my life is complete." My nephew's beaming face gives me some hint of how Simeon's countenance must have glowed that day with utter satisfaction and the consummation of life's dearest hopes.

My nephew's reaction returned to mind in another context, when a dear friend sent me a letter holding a glimpse into her heart and desires. In response to the verse, "It will be said on that day, 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation'" (Isaiah 25:9), she mused that so often she waits for the Lord to solve her problems instead of waiting just for Him, Himself.

I understood what she meant, for I know at times, in a hard pain week, I want health and relief more than I want endurance, spiritual maturity, and "the fellowship of His sufferings." Although I am learning to pray that I would want to know God better more than I want to feel better, that is often not the reality. How much of the sanctification process, I wonder, is simply that winnowing of all our wantings until like Simeon and the people Isaiah described, seeing the God for whom we wait is our chief end and greatest good.

In hope and faith, let us cling to the promise that His children will see Him someday, and on that day we will be like Him. Perhaps we will even clap our hands and jump for childlike joy as we shout, "Here He is. We waited for this. We wanted Him! We wanted Him!! And here He is!" Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation, indeed. He is and ever shall be just what we always wanted.

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What I'm holding in head, heart, hands, and home as this week concludes:
::hope
::promises
::the beginning of Ephesians 3 to hide in my heart
::increased back pain
::perhaps slightly decreased ankle pain
::wise men moving closer to the manger scene
::thoughts of Bible study resuming next week
::completion of the book of Advent readings I bought for 2012
::not minding tardiness so much since the last few readings concerned the wise men and Simeon
::a lovely audio recording of a modern English translation of the novel Les Miserables (accent grave on the first "e" there; not sure how to do that)
::a load of laundry buzzing that it's dry
::birthday cards to send out for next week
::a sleeping, peaceful dog who ate part of a Ziploc bag this morning (so far, so good; praying it doesn't cause problems)

sharing with my friend Amy's "What I'm Holding" Friday posts

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Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.