Advent Devotional: Now I’ve Seen Everything

Ask anybody what is on their Bucket List and you will get a multitude of answers. Some would like to travel and see distant lands, some would (for some strange reason) like to run and finish a marathon, some would like to earn a certain amount of money or learn a special skill before they die. I’ve been fortunate to do most of the things on my bucket list. However, one thing I still want to do before I kick the bucket is to see the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (nee Constantinople).  During my first venture into University I studied English Literature with a minor in Art History. During that time, I studied and fell in love with Christian architecture. I loved the Gothic and Byzantine styles and the symbolism built into the structures that housed the church over the centuries. Before I got married and had children, I had the opportunity to travel all over most of Europe and see many of the more famous Cathedrals and chapels: Notre Dame in Paris, St. Basil’s in Moscow, and many more. However, I never made it to the Mediterranean. I never got to see the Acropolis in Athens or the Pyramids in Egypt or the Temple in Jerusalem. To be honest, I could go without seeing many of these places now that I’m older and my priorities are closer to home then they were before I had a family. But one thing I always regretted was not seeing the Hagia Sophia. So, for years, this destination has been paramount on my bucket list.

In Luke 2 we meet a man named Simeon who had a bucket list of his own. Apparently, he had only one item left on his list: to see the “consolation of Israel.” His bucket list wasn’t a destination, it was an action of God. He wanted to live long enough to see God work to bring comfort to his nation through the promised anointed one. And because he was “righteous and devout” in his waiting for the Messiah, God had revealed to him that he wouldn’t die until he had crossed this last item of his bucket list.

How many people do you know that would have a bucket list item like this? “I just want to see God’s plan in action before I go.” What does that reveal about the kind of heart Simeon had? His priority wasn’t worldly things like money and skills or even to visit a holy place like Hagia Sophia. His paramount desire was to see God in action. And he waited expectantly. He didn’t just wish and pray for it to happen, he expected it to happen at any moment. Do we have that kind of faith? Do I? Unfortunately, no. I pray daily for God to work in my life, I pray daily that Christ would be manifest in my life, but rarely do I expectantly wait for it, knowing that it’s going to happen. And because of this, I believe I’ve often missed seeing God’s hand in the mundane things in my everyday life.

Jesus being brought to the temple in Jerusalem was not a big deal to anyone except his parents. Everyday parents brought their sons to the temple to be blessed. During his lifetime Simeon had probably watched thousands of babies being brought through the streets of Jerusalem up to the temple to be consecrated for God. But because he was expectant of God, he didn’t miss Him at work in this everyday activity, even though it was in one of the least expected places. Most Jews of the day who new the Messianic texts of the Old Testament would have been looking for a soldier on horseback entering the gates of Jerusalem or a king regally dressed in purple. Not many would have recognized God’s anointed one wrapped in common cloth in the arms of a young mother. But Simeon was blessed to catch what no one else did. God allowed him, through His Spirit, to recognize what no one else did. God was working, His plan was set in motion and Israel was about to be consoled for the years of oppression and ridicule by other nations. God had become flesh in order to bring salvation to those who could not help themselves. And how did Simeon respond? With praise and prayer: “Now I’ve seen everything!”  That’s a paraphrase, of course. What he actually said was,

“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 people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32 ESV).

The ancient Simeon saw a new born baby and said, this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for, my bucket list is all checked off, I’ve seen everything, now I can rest in peace.

I pray that during this season of advent, as we wait for the Lord, we will wait expectantly. I pray that I will not be distracted by all the hustle and bustle and work it takes to pull off the perfect family dinner. I pray I won’t be so focused on buying the perfect presents that I miss His perfect presence. I pray God will bless me with the ability to recognize Him in the faces of my family, in the kindness of a stranger or even in the innocence of a baby. I pray He will allow me to make my experience with Him paramount on my bucket list… although it would be nice to get to Istanbul someday.

You are loved!

David