Recently, I was driving along minding my own business, singing loudly with Casting Crowns, when all of a sudden it seemed as though a championship boxing match broke out in the back row of my SUV. My smallest son cheered wildly from the safety of his seat in front of the two older boys.
Though we don’t condone fighting in our home, it’s in times like these, when all a mom can do is pray for patience, keep her hands on the wheel, and let nature take its course. As I monitored the situation through the rearview mirror, I saw my middle son push his older brother back to his corner and say, “It’s my life! I can do it my own way!”
In an instant, I knew exactly what had happened. The boys had been taking turns playing Mario on their handheld game systems, when my oldest son decided to “help” his brother with his turn. Although he knows the game forwards and backwards, his younger brother doesn’t appreciate his persistence in telling him what to do and guiding him through levels. He would rather do things his own way and even “lose his life” than listen to wise counsel.
How familiar this sounds to me as I reflect on my own life. As Christians, I believe we have all been guilty of this from time to time in some way or another. In this fast-paced, self-absorbed society it’s easy to push God to the corner and tell Him, “This is my life. I can do it the way I want to.”
We are so busy making our own plans, “living our lives to the fullest” and “experiencing all life has to offer” that we inevitably forfeit true wisdom for worldliness. We would rather have material possessions than heavenly treasures. We trade in blessings for burdens and our greatest loss is that we willingly wander from a relationship with our heavenly Father in an effort to gain or save relationships that will ultimately cause our faith to falter.
More and more we see young people forsake their goals and responsibilities and go on a path of their own as they “find themselves.” Sadly, it’s become common to hear adults say, “I deserve to be happy,” as they blindly walk away from their families, jobs, or churches. The devil has done an exquisite job deceiving people with these two familiar lines, when in fact no one “deserves to be happy.” The truth is, we all deserve hell and when we choose to live a life of our own and “find ourselves” we will indeed find that that road leads to a life void of Christ. A life filled with selfishness, sin, sorrow, and suffering. Because we are quick to push God to a corner, we forget that Jesus clearly said, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
We see a perfect illustration of this with a character in Luke who is often overlooked as we study the significant incidences during Jesus’ infancy. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and King Herod are all well known, but Simeon seems to be a more silent character, yet one with insurmountable faith.
According to Luke 2:22-29, out of obedience to the law under which Mary lived, she went to the temple after 40 days to offer appointed sacrifices for her purification. Joseph accompanied her and they presented their precious, holy child unto the Lord since he was their first-born son.
While they were there, a man named Simeon was led to them by the Holy Spirit. This wise, older gentleman spent his days anxiously waiting for the consolation or comfort of Israel. In the Greek, this word “waiting” specifically means “to look forward to” or “to eagerly await.” The Scripture also tells us that he was righteous and devout, thus implying he was familiar with the prophecies of the Messiah. So not only was he waiting, he knew exactly what to be looking for and he held tightly to the hope of the promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Savior.
As these new, proud parents brought their baby into the temple courts, Simeon swept the long-anticipated King into his arms and praised God saying, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.”
Simeon knew the key to living life to the fullest was to live life for Jesus! He knew the Christ was coming because he knew the Creator personally and the truth of His precious promises. He knew Jesus was his only hope and he eagerly awaited the day he would meet Him face to face. Above all, he knew exactly what he would gain by “losing his life.”
If we, too, truly believe that Jesus will return, our lives should resemble Simeon’s. Our true happiness will not be in “finding ourselves,” but in finding God to be faithful to His Word as we look forward to the glorious return of our Savior when we shall meet Him face to face!
Simeon was literally “living for Jesus.” What are you living for?
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?