I met a fascinating woman this morning: Helen Dexter, who served as a missionary for Christ in India, and also in Japan, for over twenty years—starting at the age of 66!
This widow sensed God’s call and, after getting training and inner certainty, sold her home and possessions and took off for India, “In the north,” where she knew He wanted her, even though people said, “You can’t just go and do that!”
She told me of a fascinating man to whose ministry there the Lord led her: a man who, ten years before, had walked all the way from England, laying down all his possessions (quite literally) on the way, including his money and his eye glasses, to trust and follow Him, because he was certain that was how the Lord was directing him.
I told her I would have had trouble laying down the eye glasses, but she then informed me that afterward God healed that man’s eyes so that he never needed glasses again.
Amazing modern-day happenings, and why? Because both these people truly sought God’s face, His presence, His will, continually.
That’s what Anna did, too, in the time of Christ’s nativity (Lk 2:36-38).
I always want to call her Anna-in-the-temple, because this devout long-term widow spent all her time there, serving God with fasting and praying “night and day.” What an example her focus is to us today who allow too many things to rob us of His presence and to interfere with our seeking of it! And what a wonderful reward she enjoyed, after all those years of faithful prayer: to behold for herself, in her own lifetime, the infant face of the long-promised Messiah, and recognize Him for who He was!
No wonder her immediate response was two-fold: gratitude and inability to contain the good news. “Coming up to [Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, and Simeon, who also recognized the promised Christ] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (v. 38, NIV). And notice the focus of the people she blessed with those good tidings. They were seeking His presence, too.
If we don’t seek, how do we expect to find? Far too much do our possessions and preoccupations deprive us of God’s presence. It seems we have to fight just for a little private time with Him. Well, if that’s the case, I say, “Fight on!” That’s a battle well worth choosing. Let’s make plans for the new year ahead to “seek His presence continually.”