A God Kind of Focus
It's been my experience that during this time of the year, different people are focused on a variety of different things. Some of us are focused on the catching sales and trying to buy just the right Christmas gift. Some of us are focused on what we don't have or what we've lost, be it finances, relationships, and even loved ones who have passed on. Somehow in the midst of these two extremes, some of us have maintained an entirely different focus. Some of us have our eyes are on God and are watching for the ways God chooses to be revealed in our lives during this Advent season.
Like many of us today some in Luke's gospel missed Jesus, yet his identity as the one who had come to bring salvation was revealed to a few chosen by the Holy Spirit. One such individual was Simeon, whom God promised would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. Why did the Lord choose to reveal the arrival of the Christ to Simeon and how can we be sure that we don't miss Jesus during this season?
Luke 2:25 tells us that Simeon was devout, meaning he carefully observed the God's commands. This is not to suggest he was without shortcomings, but his actions and conduct demonstrated a mind that was fixed on God. We are also told he was righteous meaning, he walked upright before God. These two things suggest that during a lifetime of waiting for the One who had been awaited for generations, Simeon had to have engaged in some self-evaluation, refocusing of his mind and intent, and allowed God to shape and correct his character. It is possible that in order to see the presence of God in our lives during this season of expectancy we may need to reevaluate our actions and conduct, assessing whether or not they demonstrate a belief that God will fulfill His promises to us. We may need to refocus our minds and intent away from our wants and needs, and back in the direction of God's divine plan for our lives. And yes it is entirely possible that in order to see God at work in our lives, we will have to surrender our strong will and allow God to provide us with some much needed correction.
One translation tells us that Simeon was divinely instructed "don't see death" before he saw the coming of the Lord. That tells us that despite our challenges and circumstances, we can't fall out and give up before we see the manifestation of God at work in our lives. The language of "seeing" calls us to question exactly where are we focusing our view? Are we looking our situations and condition, or are we looking towards Jesus? Proverbs 4:25 says let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose] and let your gaze be straight before you. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, then like Simeon, we will see Jesus.