Every day we need to soak in His Word, let it resonate in our souls and settle deep into a Sabbath rest of the heart. May the reminder of His promises be a balm to you as we seek Him first in each of our journeys. Join me at the beginning of the week for a reminder to take a soul stop in the power of His Word and be rejuvenated for the week ahead.
I love to watch people…to see the tiny differences and the beautiful similarities we all share. It amazes me how unique and yet alike we can be. The sacred space that was made for One is the same in us all, the place reserved to born again to breathe out grace…it is the same. It is the set apart, wholly holy place in our souls; formed in secret, intricately woven and embroidered by God for the purpose of sheltering glory.
It is the place where we know God.
The place where we are known by God.
The place where we cradle salvation.
There is a woman whose story is only found in Luke’s Gospel. Her name is Anna, it means grace. She was a watcher of souls, a faithful servant who knew how to wait. Her story has convicted me, inspired me, challenged me. I’ve been waiting in the words that wind around her meeting with Jesus. She held Him close to her heart and she shared the story of Truth by her bold beautiful faith.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having lived with her husband seven years from her maidenhood. And as a widow even for eighty-four years. She did not go out from the temple enclosure, but was worshiping night and day with fasting and prayer. And she too came up at the same hour, and she returned thanks to God and talked of [Jesus] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Grace testified of GRACE… Her testimony told of His arrival, the One who spilled heaven was her legacy. Forever her name is etched in the Holy Writ. Her boldness led her to teach others about this One who broke through and made angels sing, but it was her character that captured me. She was called a prophetess, like Deborah and Miriam, one who taught others about God. She was a widow, chaste and pure, who served God daily in the temple in total devotion. It was out of this deep love for God she spoke of Him, she looked for Him. She was a woman of worship and prayer. One who knew loss but still sought God first. Her actions showed me the power of courageously obedient trust and devotedly bold faith.
Her story seemed so real because it is clear she knew hope and hopelessness together, patience and fervent seeking with a final reward for diligence. She was courageous, obedient, and bold, but what filled my heart was her willing faithfulness to serve and stay right where she was called.
Because of her position… (a self-appointed placement) …Because of her obedience… (a divinely led living)…She was right where she ought to be… right were God is.
Anna was nearby when Simeon blessed the Christ-child. She was introduced to the Savior of her soul and recognized God’s mercy for what it really was. Grace. Isn’t it providence that her name meant the same?
“To those to whom Christ is made known, have great reason to thank the Lord.”- Matthew Henry
How many times do we go when God says go? How many times do we praise Him when it is hard? How many times do we serve when we are lonely and tired and weak and worn? How many times do we let go of the world in order to get more of God?
“Anna always dwelt in or attended the temple. She was always in a praying spirit; she gave herself to prayer, and in all things she served God.” – Matthew Henry
Anna was a waiting woman. She was found in anticipated stillness of soul but actively living her faith by continual service. She showed up daily. She loved because she was met by love. She saw redemption because she looked for it.
She obeyed God.
She recognized God.
She praised God.
She taught others to do the same.
When we are called to faithfulness…
In Luke 2, The Bible reminds us that God sees who the world does not. Anna and Simeon were chosen to Hold and Recognize Christ as the Messiah when He was presented in temple. They were chosen to hold God, to cradle salvation close in their hearts and in their grasp.
Those who recognize God are noticed by God. Their testimony is a memorial to the redemption God sent to bring us to Him. And it is not missed by God even if the world doesn’t take notice.
Her chastity, holy and obedient to God gave her testimony a trustworthiness. These very qualities are the very foundation for the esteem of her words. That she departed not from the temple is a rhetorical scheme of hyperbole, it meant she was always there. The fasting and prayer was a metaphor for zealous prayer, a continual act of worship.
Because Anna knew where to look for redemption, she was filled with the ability to speak comfort. Out of her gratefulness of being favored to see God, to be introduced to redemption, Anna taught others gospel truth.
” She took the gospel with her and traveled with it, telling all who were looking for redemption.”-Clarke’s Commentary
And then grace.
Here, in the Writ of His Word, grace is mentioned as a part of her identity. Her name, her heritage, her lineage…they force us to look closer at her story.
…her name, like Hannah of 1 Samuel. Both women of devotion were called grace.
…her heritage, as the daughter of Phanuel. His name means face of God.
…her lineage, from the tribe of Asher. It means happiness.
All of these things are significant, when you consider what history tells us about the identity of people. But it was her testimony that I believe was the most revealing. She was a witness of His Glory. It may have been easy to think she was forgotten by God, but her lineage, the Tribe of Asher, was one of the 10 Tribes considered lost. Luke restores the lineage as one not forgotten by remembering a faithful, obedient, praying woman who waited diligently for God to show up.
She was rewarded with the fullness of His love for all of us and changed by the redemption He marked on her soul. In a small section of the history of the world Anna was remembered and because of her obedience she also remembered her purpose… bold faith and big grace make it possible to share the gospel of truth.
“You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got.” – Jill Briscoe
Anna’s story left me undone.
it reminded me of Jill Briscoe’s words just a few weeks ago on an Austin stage. She said she was done, once. She told God she’d had enough. And He asked her who she thought would carry her cross for her. That’s my rendering of just a small piece of her message. But the whole cross-carrying thing, it stuck with me.
How many times have I told God I am done?
How many times have I asked Him for a different assignment?
How many times have I told Him I can’t do this life-thing that gets so messy?
How many times have I failed to take it all to the throne in prayer letting Jesus hold my heart?
How many times have I missed the moment where redemption was right there within my grasp?
Anna is the epitome of faith. The beautiful brave woman of God who did what she had to do, let the world fall away as she chose God first, and left a legacy of hope for us all.
She didn’t just do what she had to do…she did what she ought to do.
That word that implies we should be doing something without hesitation and without thinking opposite. Ought is a strong word that leads us to see what is right, what is good, what is freeing.
We show up.
We stay there.
We give .
So many times I have missed His will, because I wanted my own. So many times I have chosen my way, because it felt easier. So many times I have not looked for God in the midst, because my flesh just gets in the way.
But maybe the answer is simply how she served.
She showed up.
She stayed where she was.
She gave what she had.
She looked for God.
She witnessed grace.
When waiting in prayer is bold and courageous, we can have audacious hope and spill great faith.
God has not forsaken the widowed heart, the orphaned soul, or the aged saint still waiting in hope. There is a redeemer who has come, and is yet here, to hold our hearts; we are cradled in the arms of grace, so we are able to give a testimony…a faithful word… that can’t be denied .
We witness grace when we look for God, like Anna. And like Anna, grace will become the witness that testifies we have been found by Him.
The Heart of the Woman Series is a Bible Study for each and every one of us. Join me in March as I revisit this chapter of Isaiah once a week on Saturday morning here and feel free to join me to discuss what we are reading through the week, along with a schedule at the Table of Grace FB Group.
Linking up with friends for the journey:
Moments of Hope, #DreamTogether, Unite, Cheerleaders of Faith, Tell His Story, Coffee For Your Heart, Three Word Wednesday, Writer Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace n Truth, #Chasing Community, Fresh Market Friday, Faith n Friends Blog Hop, Missional Women, Dance with Jesus, Glimpses with Barbie,