London, Paris, and Vienna. These are the three places I would love to visit, you might say that they are on my bucket list. Most people have a mental list of the things they would like to do before they die and the creative or goal minded individuals will actually write it down. Each dream, goal, or wish comes with our own personal reasons as to why it is so important for us. For me, I want to go to these cities because of the experience. I want to go to London and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and I definitely want to ride a double decker bus plus enjoy a cup of real British tea...these are a must!! The Eiffel Tower is, of course, at the top of my Parisian list along with eating at a real French bistro...best pastries ever(at least they look that way on TV). Vienna has a few must haves as well, hear the Vienna Boys Choir and watch the famous white Lipizzaner horses perform.
I have actually written an article on bucket lists but I wanted to focus on something a little more distinct, a lesson I learned from one of my favorite characters in the Christmas story.
Simeon. He was an old man, a man who had seen many things and probably witnessed a lot of change in his lifetime. He was a just and devout man wholly dedicated to God and spent his days waiting for the Messiah, the hope of Israel. One thing that always catches my attention is the mention of him having the Holy Spirit, something that was not common in that time. The Holy Spirit did not indwell all the children of God yet, only a select few at certain times. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer would not take place until the day of Pentecost, yet Simeon possessed this member of the Trinity. The Spirit revealed that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, and also lead him to the Temple to witness the arrival of a young couple who came with their first born son to bring their poor offering and fulfill the law. Simeon immediately realizes who the child is and takes the baby from Mary (how many moms would have panicked at that moment?). He holds this eight day old baby and begins to praise God for allowing him to see this blessed day fulfilled.
The first coming
Here was a man who had lived for nothing else than to see the promise of the Lord's redemption fulfilled. He spent his days waiting for the day when he would see the Lord, the Savior of the world. His life revolved around the things of God, he was a man who literally was waiting for Jesus to come, and spent his days preparing for the first coming of the Lord. His heart was so fixed on the Messiah's coming that all he could think about was when it would arrive, he was waiting for the consolation of Israel and indeed, the whole world. When the day came, he was ready.
There was no fanfare when Mary and Joseph entered the Temple, to everyone else they looked like a typical couple getting ready to do what the law required. To one Spirit filled man however, they held the long-awaited promise. Let that sink in for a moment, out of all the couples present, he discerned that they held the Messiah. Jesus looked like every other baby, there was nothing special about Him, no glow hovering over Him (despite what the paintings show) but this man was so in tune with God that he knew it was Him. Simeon publicly blessed his God for allowing him to see the salvation of his people and the light to the Gentiles. Listen to what he says in Luke 2:29 "Lord, now lettest thou they servant depart in peace, according to thy word". He was ready to die right there, he did not need to live one more day because all his desires were met and he was content. Life was good.
Before we die
So often we have such a long list of things that WE want to do before we die, but what about God's plan for our life? Please understand that there is nothing wrong with wanting to do things, to have a wish list, but if they consume us instead of God we have a problem. Simeon only wanted to see God, he spent his whole life waiting and preparing for this one moment, so much so that he also gave some prophetic advice to the parents, especially Mary. He understood the significance of Jesus' coming, he realized that the Jews were not the only ones that would be saved, Jesus came to save the world, all of it. He spoke of how Mary's soul would be pierced because of what was to come. Simeon had such insight into spiritual matters because he had spent time meditating on God's Word. Am I not called to do the same?
The second coming
So often my moments are spent on me and my desires. I spend my time waiting for things to happen that will benefit me or that are for the fulfillment of my own pleasures but what time do I give to God and His plans for me? Simeon was waiting for the first coming of Christ; I am to wait on His second coming. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). This is our blessed hope, this is what we are to be ever looking for with great anticipation. It should consume our thoughts and actions but often it does not, we go about our day as if there is nothing happening. Yes, we are to live our life which includes making day to day plans and goals but it should be in such a way that it is a reflection of what is to come. I know that I am guilty of not looking for the coming of the Lord, instead I am running around consumed with my to do lists and selfish desires. It does not cross my mind as often as it should nor does it often guide my actions. Simeon is a great example of how we are to be, ever waiting and preparing for the Lord's appearing while we do the needful things on earth.
A new era
As we celebrate the first coming of our Lord would you take a moment to pause and remember why He came? This season was the one that began a new era, it started the preparation for the second coming, the one where we all will be reunited with the ones we love, earth will be restored and we will see Him as He is.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Have you ever had a day where your hopes were high because of what was coming? You have built it up into something grand but then see it all crumble before you? That was me not to long ago. I graduated in May with a degree in Graphics Design and have since been looking for a job in that particular field, let me tell you it is not easy! Everything is online these days making it even more difficult to snag that much needed face-to-face interview. Finally I heard about a job fair that was being hosted nearby that promised "hundreds of jobs". Now let me ask you, when you read that headline, do you envision a job fair with a least 100 tables packed tightly into a huge gym? So did I. So I immediately printed off 15 resumes, attached my business card and had my large portfolio ready to go, I was as prepared as I could be for this opportunity. The day arrived, and I was excited. I left extra early so that I had time to find the place and be one of the first ones there. When I arrived at the address listed I thought it must be a mistake, this place was so small but I parked my car, still hopeful at the promised opportunities inside. That hope dwindled quickly when I walked in and discovered that the job fair with "hundreds of jobs" was in two small conference rooms with a max of 50 tables that mainly consisted of FedEx, Publix, Taco Bell and temp agencies. The one organization listed as attending, the only graphic agency that I wanted to speak with could not be found anywhere so I went to the person in charge of the fair and asked them where the booth would be. The person proceeded to lead me to "their" booth which was a security agency firm...a far cry from what I had asked them( I am still not sure why they were put in charge of the fair). I took several more laps around the room just to make sure I didn't miss them but with each lap my heart sank lower and lower. Finally I realized it was useless to look anymore, no one was hiring for a graphic designer so I might as well head out.
I can't even begin to describe the feelings I was experiencing. I had looked forward to this job fair for two weeks, I had taken time off from my current job, which was not easy to do since I juggle several schedules and taking off from one job meant I lost hours at another and it all felt like a huge waste of time. When I got to the car I quickly dumped my portfolio, and all those resumes into the backseat and began to make the one hour commute to my other job. As the minutes ticked by I could feel my heart sinking deeper and deeper and before long the tears began to flow. I tried to control them because I knew if I cried too hard I might end up in an accident and my day was already bad enough, I didn't need to add that to the pile.
I am going to be completely transparent, I felt so alone and utterly discouraged. After four years of working my way through school with the hopes of getting a better job, I still had nothing. Please understand that I love my current jobs, but I had hoped to have one good job not the three I currently did. At that moment it was difficult for me to remember that God loved me, I am being completely honest, I was at a low point. As many people do when they are feeling so low, they get themselves a dose of chocolate and I was no different at that moment. I pulled into the nearest Starbucks, planning on ordering a nice, grande peppermint mocha (my absolute favorite!). It wasn't until I pulled into the parking lot that I realized my teary eyes might not be the best look to wear in a public place. So I quickly looked in the visor mirror and wiped away the evidence, thinking no one would ever know (my mistake). I was greeted by a super sweet barista who took my order. As she rang me up she asked if the weather had gotten to me too, you see I forgot that when you cry your nose will begin to drip causing you to make that periodic sniffing sound which I was doing subconsciously. When she asked the question, this thought ran through my head, "well, I can't lie but did she have to ask!". I could feel the tears well up again and I quickly said as nicely as I could muster without falling apart, "No, it's just been one of those mornings". With a look of understanding she simply handed me my receipt and I went to wait for my chocolate antidote. As I stood there I watched her grab my cup and a black sharpie, I knew instantly what she was doing and that made me tear up even more. Soon my coffee was ready and as she handed it to me, with the written side facing me, she said, "My grammar isn't very good but I hope you have a good day." I could only manage a smile as I turned and rushed out the door. As I drove to work I cried even more.
Smiles make people better
It is so easy to forget that the sun is there even when the clouds roll in. The sky grows dark and the temperature lowers but the fact remains that behind those boisterous clouds, there is a sun. So it is with God's love, when discouragement begins to squeeze our soul, and the trials come in all their fury, we must make a choice to believe the promises of God. I know it is hard, believe me, on that day I could only see the clouds and feel the cold wind blow over my soul. Satan was doing his best to whisper lies into my heart, to tell me that God did not care about me, He didn't love me but that is all it was, a lie. The truth was, God never left me, He never abandoned me, His love was always there and He used a little Starbucks barista to remind me of that. I pray that when you feel overwhelmed by life that you will remember this story, just as I will, and let the truth of God's love push out Satan's lies, He truly does love you with an everlasting, constant love.
For those curious about what was on the cup, she wrote, "Hope you have a great day! Smiles always make people better." And you know what? It did! May we always make time to be kind to someone else, you never know the difference it could make in their life.
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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