Friday, August 10, 2007

Luke #25 - Old and Useful

Luke #25 – Old and Useful

“And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38 – King James Version).

Johnny Smith said once how amazed he was that Americans would spend thousands of dollars to tour the Holy Land to look at 2000 year old buildings only to come home and build structures meant to last only twenty years. As he shared with us about the Holy Land I became very interested in looking at pictures of things over there. (I REALLY want to go one day!) What I found very interesting was that many of those buildings that have been standing for over two thousand years are still in use. They are old AND useful. Somehow our American mind doesn’t believe that, or at least it seems that way. Mr. Smith nailed it; we don’t build for the future nor do we appreciate aged things. Sure, we value antiques, but only for monetary value, not for useful value.

When it comes to old people, many times we have a poor attitude as well. Now I know it is not politically correct to call aged people old, but I’m not trying to be politically correct. To me being old does is not a bad thing. My granddaddy used to say “You don’t get old being no fool.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that. Anyway, I digress; back to the point. We encourage people to retire, to rest, to get away. There’s nothing wrong with retiring from a job, getting rest from a lifetime’s labor, and getting out and seeing the world. Somehow there has become attached to that the thinking that retirement equals the end of usefulness. BAH! That’s what I say! Most old folks have more usefulness in their fingernails than I’ve got in my whole body.

For the Christian person of significant years (how do you like how I said it that time?), there is even more of a wealth of usefulness than can be imagined. That’s what I think of when I read about Anna. She had years of experience, years of knowledge, and most importantly years of faith built inside of her lifetime. We see a culmination of much of that in this passage. Let’s look at five things we can learn from Anna.

First, hardship had built Anna not broken her. Anna had been widowed at a young age; obviously she found comfort in God. She turned her attention to Him and He refreshed and sustained her. Too many people reach the end of their time on earth having become bitter. The one who turns to God in hard times finds comfort and strength. That same one can use that experience to comfort others. One great affliction early in life may bless the one who suffers it until the end. Every experience makes us bitter or better, depending on who or Whom we turn to.

Second, to live a lengthy life means to experience God’s provision for a long time. Too often it is the pains of life that overwhelm us when those very pains may be catalysts that turn us to God. We can experience the world’s emptiness or God’s supply. Again, it depends which way we turn. We may think Poor Anna, all those years without a husband…tsk, tsk, tsk. Anna might have thought How blessed am I?! All my comfort comes from God!

Thirdly, a long life provides more opportunity to serve God. Anna “served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” She didn’t sit around in her lazy-boy watching The Price is Right and counting the hours until the next dose of medicine had to be taken. She served God even (or possibly especially) in her advanced years.

Fourthly, living a long life, and especially a long life with God, brings a special sweetness at the end. When Anna saw the Christ she was thankful; thankful for the wait and thankful for the reward. What she had longed for, the redemption of Israel, was nigh at hand. How good it must have been to receive what she had longed for those many years! I pray that if the Lord sees fit to leave me here a great amount of years that I will be excited about meeting the Lord whom I have served for most of that time.

Lastly, a wealth of years grants a wealth of knowledge. I imagine that Anna was not surprised that Micah 3:1 came true before her very eyes. She long expected, prayed for, and fasted for the redemption of Israel and the coming of the Messiah. She, in her old age, had a great perspective on things to come and was smart enough and spiritually mature enough to see that was exactly what was happening.

If you are young and are reading this take Anna for example and waste no years enjoying the Lord. If you are aged and reading this take Anna for example and serve God…live to the fullest! Old age is no curse. Enjoy God right until the last!

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