So far this December my to-do list has been overwhelming, keeping me a “human doing” rather than a “human being.” I haven’t felt a whole lot of the peace this season is supposed to bring — or joy, for that matter. So this morning I’m taking some time to quiet my heart and “choose what is better.” (Luke 10:42) Here my dear friend Jennifer Kennedy Dean shares a beautiful prayer from her book Pursuing the Christ: 31 Morning and Evening Prayers for Advent.
When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
according to Your word.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.
By the time Your promises are fullfilled, You have first created the expectation and fanned the flames of hope in those whose hearts are attuned to You. You have opened the eyes of faith in the one who looks to You. Take Simeon, for example—old Simeon, well along in years, righteous and devout. You had made him a promise that he would not die until his eyes had seen Your salvation.
On that day when Mary and Joseph brought their little baby to the temple courts, they were there to offer the customary sacrifices at the customary time in the customary way—an ordinary scene. Nothing outstanding or unusual was happening; nothing occurred to call Simeon’s attention to the family from Nazareth.
Simeon was not alone at the temple. Others were there—many others, probably. They looked at the family from Nazareth, too, did they not? Yet only Simeon looked at the family and saw Your salvation. Only Simeon recognized in the flesh what his heart had been seeing in the Spirit for years.
At Simeon’s age, it is likely that his eyesight had faded. He probably could not see as clearly as many of those at the temple that day. Yet, when he looked at what everyone else was looking at, he saw Your salvation. There You were, cloaked in the ordinary. Those focused on rites and ceremonies, those evaluating position and prestige—they missed You. Though You were right in their midst, they were blind to Your presence. But Simeon, whose spiritual sight was sharp, saw You clearly.
Simeon, when he saw You, proclaimed himself at peace. The sight of You, even in Your infancy, brought peace to Simeon’s old heart.
Lord Jesus, in this Christmas season where we sing songs about peace but fill our days with chaos, let me see You in the ordinary. Let me recognize You in the comings and goings. Let me look beyond the glitter of the holiday and see the glory of Your presence. And I, too, will be at peace.
When Simeon took You up in his arms, what a moment that must have been. With You balanced in the crook of his arm, pressed against his aged breast, Simeon looked into the face of his Savior.
How overcome he must have been. Surely tears flooded his eyes and tumbled down his craggy cheeks. Hehad to have felt that divine and eternal moment with his whole being. Simeon held his Salvation in his embrace and felt the Master’s touch.
Peace, confidence, certainty; a sense of being settled and stable and safe;. clarity about who is in charge; awareness of Your power—all of this is part of the peace I feel when I experience Your touch.
This Christmas season, when I fall into the well-worn patterns of my flesh—trying to measure up, trying to make everybody happy, trying to attend perfectly to every detail, trying to fulfill other people’s expectations—capture my heart with Your touch. Bring peace to my thoughts with Your presence. “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NASB).
No matter what frenetic activity and insistent demands swirl around me, I want to be able to say, “My eyes have seen Your Salvation” (Luke 2:30). Let me be transfixed by Your face.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book Heart’s Cry a primary resource for National Day of Prayer. Her book, Live a Praying Life, has been called a flagship work on prayer. Widely recognized as an unusually gifted communicator of the deep truths of God’s Word, Jennifer speaks all over the country calling God’s people to discover the difference between “a prayer life” and “a praying life.”Vist her website www.prayinglife.org, and view the trailer for Pursuing the Christ here.