Do you have a life song? Is there a song that characterises your life right now? Perhaps, like Gloria Gaynor, you can stare down the challenges you face and belt out, “I will survive.” Maybe you can relate to Frank Sinatra and declare, “I did it my way.” Or perhaps you resonate with the feminist anthem of Helen Reddy and let the world know, “I am woman, hear me roar!”
Songs are a wonderful way of conveying passion and emotion. With so many great songs written through the ages, we can usually find one that expresses how we feel.
In the book of Luke, we read about a woman who lived her life to the beat of a different song. Anna was in the temple when Mary and Joseph came to dedicate the baby Jesus to God. She would have been known to everyone who went to the temple; hers was the familiar face to all worshippers. Anna was a widow and a prophetess who had dedicated her life to worship and service.
When we meet Anna, she is eighty-four years old. The Bible tells us that Anna was married for seven years before her husband died. It was normal for women to be married young in that culture, so it is likely Anna had been widowed in her twenties. Yet, rather than finding a new husband to support and care for her, Anna dedicated her life to worship in the temple of God, allowing God to be her Shelter. (Psalm 3:3-6)
Luke tells us Anna “did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers.” (Luke 2:37)
Anna was different.
She chose a different path.
Her life sang a unique song.
We don’t know much from what the passage tells us, but I imagine Anna to be a little eccentric with her own style of dress and mannerisms. I imagine her to be like an old aunt who always has time for a kind word and a heartfelt prayer, a woman on the margins, someone who sees the world differently from those who are caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily living.
And because of Anna’s unique song, she had a unique perspective.
Anna noticed things others didn’t have time for.
When Anna saw Mary holding Jesus, she noticed this baby was different from every other baby who came to be dedicated in the temple. The God she had come to know and trust as her shelter and provider had now come in the flesh to redeem humanity. She saw Him and recognized Him, because she’d spent her life worshipping Him. By the Spirit of God stirring in her, she knew someone very special had arrived in the arms of Mary, and she spoke about it boldly. She “began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)
Anna knew the prophecies of a coming Rescuer and, along with all of Israel, was waiting for the Messiah to be born. But unlike so many, Anna was not passively waiting but actively looking for her Savior. She was in the temple fasting and praying and eagerly anticipating the redemption for which she longed. Her life song proved the authenticity of her longing. In modern times, the lyric of her life song may have been, “Come, Thou long expected Jesus”. (Charles Wesley)
Oh, how I admire Anna! I hope that when I am eighty-four I will be a woman whose life declares the hope of my Savior. But I’m a bit too busy for that right now.
Unlike Anna who devoted her life to worship in the temple, I have a husband, children and household to manage. I have a ministry to volunteer in, a business to build, and a social media following to grow. I don’t have time to pray and fast all day like Anna.
Or, at least, that’s what the evil one would have me believe. Our world is spinning at breakneck speed, and it is easy to be caught up in the pace, believing that every opportunity wasted will put me behind the pack.
But are these opportunities worth pursuing over a life of worship?
There are days when you would think my life song is “I did it my way.” I have followed my own path and done my own thing, and here I stand exhausted and faking it. While selfishness may be fun in small quantities, it ultimately makes my world very small and unfulfilled.
Some days, particularly while my children were young, my song was “I am woman, hear me roar.” I had days when I was tired and overwhelmed as a mother of young children, and I yelled my frustrations at my children.
So, what might it look like for my life to be a song of worship amidst the busyness and demands of every day? Two things challenge me from Anna’s example.
Firstly, her dedication to simple spiritual disciplines. She devoted her time to prayer and fasting. While it’s true, I may not have as much time as Anna, I also need to prioritise spiritual disciplines in the time I do have. Just like getting enough sleep, eating healthy food and getting regular exercise, nurturing my spiritual health is an absolute necessity.
Secondly, Anna noticed God at work bringing hope and redemption to a lost and hurting world, then she boldly declared the message of salvation to all who would listen. God is at work in my life. I just need to take the time to notice and share His goodness with all who will listen.
I still have a few years before I get to eighty-four, but I hope my life will reflect the song, “In Christ Alone, My Hope Is Found.” (Keith Getty & Stuart Townend)
Prayer is central to our ministry as believers in Jesus as we carry eachother’s burdens and intercede for one another. Our team is honored to share the work of praying alongside you!
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