Years ago, I was reading through Luke 2:22-38 and saw this event a little differently. This story takes place when Jesus was brought to the temple by His parents and was spotted by Simeon. Simeon had been told that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. He was nudged by the Holy Spirit to go to the temple, and there he saw Jesus. The version I read says that Simeon took the baby into his arms when His parents brought him into the temple courts. In this same passage, a prophetess named Anna came up to them at that moment. What struck me differently is how I envisioned the temple court on that day.
When I used to read this, in my mind I pictured an empty or sparsely populated temple court. One where it would be pretty easy to see someone else across the way. But, what if it wasn’t? What if it was as crowded as a shopping mall on Black Friday? How on earth would they have spotted this tiny baby in the midst of that?
It’s simple: they were looking for Him.
They could have been going about other business or not paying attention. But, instead, they had one thing they needed to do and their eyes were set to see that one thing.
Over the next few weeks, there are a lot of things we can add to our list that are nice-to-do’s. We can tell ourselves that we should find one more gift to give someone, we should spend an extra hour or two to make our house or decorations look perfect, and we should make the effort to go to every holiday event. One of my mom’s favorite expressions is “don’t ‘should’ on me”, meaning that to impose a bunch of should’s can feel overwhelming.
The need-to-do’s are individual for each person during the holidays. We may need to care for a loved one who is sick or unable to care for themselves. We may need to travel to be with family since we don’t get to see them often. But sometimes the nice-to-do’s disguise themselves as a need-to-do. When all of those extra things get added to our list, it can dull some of the joy of the season.
If Simeon or Anna had told themselves that they were too busy to be at the temple that day, what a blessing they would have missed! Doubtful it would have changed the course of world history, but I’m guessing it made an incredible change in their own lives! I encourage you to leave some of the nice-to-do’s off your list this year so you don’t miss seeing the good around you.