Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Psalm 105:4 and 1st Chronicles 16:11
My legs were sticking to the bleachers as I watched people file into our high school gymnasium. I was eight years old and had come with my parents to see the traveling evangelist. Back in the day, before internet and cable, most anyone coming into our small town was quite an event and the buzz of the town.
Although I was excited to be there, I was clueless to the fact that this balmy summer day would change the trajectory of my life forever.
The preacher, along with his wife and daughters who were all dressed in long flowing brightly-colored dresses and a young lad in a vest and cowboy boots, took the stage.
Through the music and the energized preaching, I heard for the first time how God loved me so much he sent his only son to come to earth and live an incredibly trial-filled life and die a violent death to pay the penalty for my sin.
At the end, those who wanted to ask God to come into their life and begin seeking his guidance and learn his ways were asked to come to the front near the stage to speak with someone and pray.
My dad, who had never heard this message before either, looked down at me: “Do you want to go up with me?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed as his robust, rough farmer’s hand enveloped mine, and we made our way to the front along with many others.
I met Jesus that day, and I was never the same.
At a very early age, I remember sitting outside and lifting my head toward the skies and speaking to a God I didn’t yet know, but sensed was there. I remember asking Him who He was and who I was...asking what this life is all about. Now I had the beginning of my answer.
In the New Testament book of Luke we find Anna seeking the face of God. She was one of the first to meet and recognize the Savior of the world. And when she met him face-to-face, she was never the same.
Let’s take a closer look at Anna and see what we can learn from this precious prophet.
“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment [Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus] she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Do we recognize the face of God?
Anna’s father’s name, Phanuel, means “face of God.” And, interestingly, Anna was one of the first to recognize the face of God—Jesus, the redeemer! She was eighty-four—some scholars think she was much older—when Mary and Joseph walked into the temple cradling the Savior of the world in their arms. Anna had been faithfully serving in the temple all those many years. How her heart must have leapt with joy when her eyes gazed into the eyes of the one she had been worshiping for so long!
We do not all have the gift of prophesy like Anna, but we can still see the face of God.
In Romans 1:20 we read, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen…so that people are without excuse.”
And in John 20:30-31 we read, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Famed apologist Ravi Zacharias notes, “There is no purpose to life unless we assume design; death has no significance unless we seek what is everlasting… Was it not within the power of the One who called all the molecules into existence to interlock them that they might bear His footsteps?”
Are our eyes open to a creative, loving and intelligent creator God when we observe the intricacies and beauty of nature around us? Do we study God's word to meet and understand our Savior?
Do we keep our eyes fixed on Him as we live out our daily lives?
Singer, author, and speaker, Sheila Walsh, notes, “Anna lived under the cruel reign of Herod the Great. We know, too, that there was a lot of corruption in the priesthood. Just as today when we struggle with those who disappoint us in the government or the pulpit, we have to choose where to focus our attention.”
Anna’s attention was on God. Is our focus on the corruption that surrounds us or on other distractions of this world? Or is our main focus on our Savior?
Do we understand that God wants to use us for his glorious purposes?
Although Anna lived in a day when women held low standing in the eyes of men, God used her and many other women of that time to influence their world and his kingdom.
God still uses women today.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2nd Corinthians 4:6-7
Do you ever feel like a jar of clay among porcelain goblets in this world? I sure can. Anna, an aged widow in a male-dominant environment could have felt this way. Yet she was given the privilege to be one of the first to see the redeemer and be a part of spreading the word of this hope!
Do you understand your value and worth to God? Imperfect jars of clay are just what God enjoys using to shine His light! (1st Corinthians 1:27)
Do we tell others the good news?
Anna’s first response upon meeting Jesus face-to-face was to tell others of this glorious hope. What is our response when we encounter Jesus? Do we tell others this hope of eternal life through Christ? Do we share how he is working in our lives to make us more humble, wise, or loving?
The evangelist I encountered that day long ago, along with millions of others during his lifetime, was Lowell Lundstrom. When he heard and accepted the good news at the age of 18, his first words when he got up from the altar were: “Wait ‘til everybody hears about this!”
Heavenly Father, once I met you, I was never the same. Help me, like Anna, and like Lowell, share this great news of your redemption!