In three short sentences in the second chapter of Luke, we see a lifetime of devotion. I have spent the last couple of days pondering Anna, the prophetess, who lived nearly her entire life in service to God.
There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers.
Don’t you love when you come across these tiny vignettes in the words of the Bible? I do. Here we get a peek at a woman with a heart dedicated to the Lord. She was part of a handful of women prophets or teachers found in Scriptures. She was quite old even by today’s standards. Some say 84 years while others speculate she was somewhere over 100. Regardless her number of years, we find her ministering within the temple courts fasting, praying, and teaching without fail.
Then one day, there came a moment she would never forget. She saw God’s Word with her own eyes. In the temple court, a young couple comes to dedicate their son to the Lord, but this child would not go unnoticed. The Holy Spirit would whisper “The long-awaited Savior, He is here!” in the ear of Simeon, a righteous and devoted man who was eagerly waiting for the Messiah. His response to the sweet babe would catch Anna’s attention and bring rejoicing in her heart. The rejoicing would turn into proclamations to all who waited to be rescued from oppression.
At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Meeting Jesus face to face has that effect on people. They are so joyful they must talk about it. But the thing that strikes me most about this woman is her devotion to God. Thoughts of service never left her. She was a wonderful example of loving the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. [Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30]
I want to be like her.
When I consider Anna, I see a woman of strength showing up each day to serve the world around her. I see compassion as she fasts and prays raising awareness in the throne room of God about the struggles on earth. I see a watchful heart anticipating the coming salvation that will bring freedom to all who receive it. I see a voice that could not keep silent about God’s work among His people.
She was an amazing woman, but what I love most about her is she didn’t let her circumstances or her station hold her back from pursuing God whole-heartedly. One of the members of the Bible study I attend said that it was easy for Anna. She had no husband, no kids, no outside job. No distractions to hold her back from doing whatever God asked of her.
Often times, we have the life we live, and then there is that other life we wish for—the one following Jesus, doing good works, and knowing Him better through His word. If we just had more time, if we had fewer distractions, if we weren’t so busy then. . . I don’t think that is the key to having a life like Anna’s. I think it may have been her practice of devotion.
She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers.
There is much speculation about whether Anna lived at the temple, or merely just attended there daily. No matter what the case, her practice was to serve God day and night. That is the key to bringing our everyday lives and that life of dedicated to God’s service together. It’s our mind-set that matters. In Colossians 3:17 it states, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.”
Applying this verse will change your way of thinking to match Anna’s.
“Whatever you do,” means exactly that— whatever. It includes your daily chores of laundry, dishes, and bathroom toilets, working long hours at a job that is less than a dream, sitting in the pick-up line at two different schools, and preparing meals for family members who are only going to wonder what else there is to eat. Some days are tough, but facing the tasks with an attitude to purposefully serve the Lord is a game changer. It lets our devotion raise Him to the His rightful place in our lives. When that happens, our relationship with Him is enhanced through His position in our lives. Through this enhancement, every person and/or task we meet is enriched.
“do it enthusiastically” In my Bible, a note adds to enthusiastically with doing it from the soul. Webster’s dictionary defines enthusiasm as a strong excitement of feeling; something inspiring zeal or fervor. Anna’s day and night service to the Lord reveals this kind of intensity. When I see words like strong excitement and inspiring zeal, I want that what they communicate in my life. They speak of anticipation rather than dread and lend their energy in managing the tasks that face us.
“as something done for the Lord and not for men” This is where we sometimes get discouraged. We cannot look to those around us for validation. There are just some folks you can’t make happy. Humans are flawed with skewed sight and their own sense of what’s right and wrong. God is the only One who sees things clearly. With that in mind, focus on Him and work for His pleasure. It will bring you pleasure as well. That’s where the next line comes in—
“knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord.” What is that inheritance we will receive as a reward? I am not completely certain but to me, a life that glorified God is a strong contender. And in the end, when face-to-face with my Creator, I would like to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It would be a beautiful reward for a life of dedication and service.
I want to leave you with the verses that come just before this verse in Colossians. They may be a good description of the attitude we see in our dear Anna. I hope her devotion has inspired you as it has me to live a fully dedicated to God in each circumstance or position we find ourselves in.
And let the peace of the Messiah. . .control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
“You serve the Lord Christ.” Be an Anna in your world.