Lessons in Living Advent

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
— Luke 2:36-38

I cannot shake Anna out of my mind. This story takes place just one month after Jesus is born. While at the temple when Anna the prophetess heard that the baby had finally come, she was glad and began to declare the good news. Can you imagine? “Messiah has arrived! God is in our midst! Redemption is on the way, Jerusalem!”

Luke 2 tells us that Anna was the the temple night and day, worshiping.

Fasting.

Praying.

The girl knew how to live Advent. You don’t stay in the temple day and night if you don’t know that the waiting is worth it; if a Savior coming in the darkest night isn’t what you need most.

When I first sunk into this passage, I began to ask the Lord to give me a desire for His Word. I want to be a woman that pulls back those sacred pages every single day. I want to know my Shepherd’s voice. When I read that Anna never departed from the temple, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. When was the last time I gave Him more than ten minutes to truly minister to my heart? Am I willing to be vulnerable? Am I willing to wait to hear from the Lord, or do I give up when He doesn’t show up in the way I would like?  

Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it had hardly finished planting the shoot.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I want a faith that looks into the face of emotions and circumstances and says, “My God is bigger than you. And His Kingdom is coming.” I want to be faithful, sorting out the lies about myself and the God I serve in exchange for the truth of His Word. I don’t want to slap His name on a bunch of empty good deeds and call that a legacy. Prayer is the means by which theological truths seep into my bones and become actions. Therefore, I want to be immersed in prayer. I want to live from and pour out of the love He is always manifesting within me. I want to stay in the fight, and I don’t want to fill up on a thousand things that don’t love me back.

Anna didn’t know the timeline of when her Lord would finally come, and yet she was continually seeking the heart of God. She didn’t give up during the first week of hunger or silence. She looked outside herself and she lived in humility.

HOW DO I ACTUALLY LIVE ADVENT? HOW DO I TRAIN MY HEART TO BE FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD AS ANNA’S WAS? IT IS DECEMBER, IT IS 2016, AND I AM BUSY AND TIRED.

If you’re like me, you love the idea of prayer more than you sit down to actually pray. You love to study, but rarely turn down social media long enough before bed to crack open your study Bible. The key to this isn’t to dwell in guilt and wannabe statements, but to set your conviction into actions by starting simple! Set a timer, turn off all your electronics, and be still. Open your Bible. Write your prayers. Waiting is hard – silence and tears are okay, too. Waiting and prayer does not look the same for everyone. Just begin. Challenge yourself to go the second mile every single day. When you don’t carve out time to sit down with the Lord, confess your need for Him and press on for His glory. I don’t know what it will feel like for you or what will come of it, but I promise that your time will never be wasted! Give thanks to the Lord for this season and tell everyone about the good news that gives you reason to dance and shout, “Glory!”

Jesus was born. Messiah has come. Redemption is here and the completion is on its way, church. Don’t get sleepy while you wait. How do you live Advent? Is it some secret that only the spiritual elite receive? Living Advent is not a whispered secret for the put-together and polished. It is a victorious anthem for the hungry to claim joy while they wait faithfully and hopefully.

For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Lord Jesus, may we know that the Spirit that conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb, upheld him along the way, and would later raise Him from the dead is living inside of us. Give us a heart like Anna’s, always dedicated, willing to wait, and continually in Your presence.