Simeon is one of those Bible figures that sticks with me.
Maybe because so little is said about him, comparatively – and yet what is said speaks volumes. We don’t know much about him beyond what Scripture says, and he often gets subsumed into the greater Christmas story, and yet I find what I do know about him to be incredibly challenging.
The Bible tells us that Simeon is righteous and devout; he was eagerly awaiting “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). Because the Spirit has revealed to Simeon that “he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah,” (26), we understand that he is older, if not elderly – and yet his focus is not on the past, but on the future.
One day, Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple courts, where he sees Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to fulfill the custom of the Law. Understanding immediately who Jesus is, Simeon takes the baby in his arms and says
Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, you now dismiss Your servant in peace.For my eyes have seen Your salvation,which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel (29-32).
After this, Simeon prophesies directly to Mary. And then that’s it. Simeon never appears again in the Bible.
As far as we know, Simeon only ever got to see a beginning. An infant. Close to the Spirit as he was, perhaps he could envision in one way or another the man that Jesus would become. Certainly, Simeon in his prophecy seems to have some understanding of what Jesus will symbolize, how He will divide His own people, and how this will eventually cost Mary, but it’s not indicated that he will witness the events or come to grasp the full nature of what Christ will do on the cross. The grandest unfolding of the story is yet to come, but this may well be all that Simeon encounters of it.
Isn’t that maddening?
If I was Simeon, I’d have begged for another twenty, thirty years. I’d have longed to see the absolute whole beginning-to-end consolation of Israel. Let me see what happens, Lord. Let me see. I’d have wanted to follow it all through to fruition, to have a front-row seat to the salvation of Israel. I would crave the wonder and the heartbreak and the glory and magic of it all. But that’s not quite what Simeon gets, and he’s not bothered by that. Simeon is content with a beginning. He is content with a sneak preview of God’s upcoming intervention. With a peek into the divine rescue.
Simeon knew that a little was enough.
I don’t. I struggle with only knowing a little. Especially lately. Convinced that God is working out a grand plan for my life, I am nonetheless enormously frustrated that I can only see one tiny corner of it. The rest of the picture is obscured from view. And frankly, I grow resentful from time to time.
God. This is my life we’re dealing with, here. Don’t you think it would be helpful for you to show me a little bit more of what You have going on with it? Of what you plan to do with it? Hello?
But it’s not my life. It has always been His, and the moment I accepted Christ I also handed over the keys to it. But I struggle to remember that I don’t need to know the whole plan. I struggle to realize I may never know the whole plan.
It is so hard.
That thing in your life? That thing in your life that’s happening and you don’t know why? That thing in your life that you think God will probably use for…well, something…but you don’t know what? That private pain? The unfulfilled dream? The recurring frustration? That thing?
Will you be fine if you never see how God plans to use it or what its purpose is? Can you be content with a sneak peek or a preview and maybe never grasping the full plan? For you, today, is a little enough?
I’m ashamed to admit that for me it’s often not, and for whatever reason this is a lesson God seems bent on teaching me. Stop. Wait. Just do what you’re doing right now. Yes, I am closing a lot of doors. Yes, it’s quite obviously Me doing it. And no, you don’t need to know why. Do you know I care? Do you trust My judgment? Then let a little be enough.
If you’re in my shoes, maybe you’re struggling, too. If that’s the case, I invite you to start praying along with me: let a little be enough. Whatever God grants you, whatever part of the picture you don’t see, whatever part of the plan you won’t witness or don’t know, may it be a blessing and a peace to you. May you find joy in the corners of God’s plan revealed here and there: may you settle your soul contentedly in what God longs to reveal to you, and nothing more and nothing less.
Most of all, may you continue to grow in the Spirit and hearken to His voice so that all of this can be possible.
6 thoughts on “Is A Little Enough?”
You’re right, of course. But part of me wishes you weren’t. After all, didn’t Simeon have it easier than we do in this regard? He lived his whole life with those words in his head, spoken directly by God, that he would not die until he sees the Lord’s Christ. And then he did. His life led to this moment, this triumphant moment that he knew would come. Yes, he probably waited longer than he hoped, and I’m sure he had his days/months/years of doubt, and he couldn’t share it with anyone lest they think him a fool. But he knew what he knew, and when it was realized, it was concrete. He literally held it in his hands. And then, The End.
Our Father doesn’t do that kind of thing anymore, at least not to most of us. Come to think of it, He didn’t really do it much back in the day either. There were thousands following Jesus during his earthly ministry, and maybe some had similar visions to live by, but probably not many. Or maybe none at all. But what did it matter, they got to see and experience Jesus personally, which is even better than what Simeon received.
And today? I think God uses us for even more than the prophets of old. Just in ways that aren’t as evident, aren’t as flash-bang loud, and aren’t often recorded in the books. And so, you’re right. God tells us less but uses us more. And a little needs to be enough.
Hah, I wish I wasn’t either. Because it really is a struggle, especially when human nature is to want to know all of something and the reasons why, or at least to have a clear grasp of what is going on.
It’s true that God doesn’t speak now in the way He did in the Biblical era up to and through the presence of Christ on earth. Although today as I’ve been thinking about Simeon and the fact that it was the Holy Spirit who revealed all of this to him I’ve been convicted a LOT about one of the significant weaknesses in my own Christian understanding, which is how to be in better communion with the Holy Spirit in this modern age.
Listening to the Spirit and understanding it isn’t something that a lot of churches seem to emphasize – maybe because it all seems too mysterious or ethereal, at least moreso than pillar-of-fire Jehovah and God-made-flesh Jesus – and yet God sent the Holy Spirit once Jesus has departed the earth as a deliberate gift to the church. I sometimes wonder if God *is* trying to tell me something or reveal something and I’m simply bad at hearing/understanding the Spirit’s guidance – or if what the Spirit has told me that is certain and true about God ought to be enough for me regardless of everything else I don’t know. I certainly know at times that’s been the case in the past! Maybe the “little” I get would be more if I knew how to listen properly.
Then again, of course, sometimes, God wants me to move without Him telling me anything, and little really DOES need to be enough. It’s a long slow practice of listening, learning, and waiting, this walk of faith.
Philip Yancey does a lot of wonderful work on why “miracles” aren’t as prevalent now as they were in the past, and I think you’re getting at something that has always really resonated w/me about his work – that God is using us in incredible ways that we often sometimes don’t see or notice because it’s so subtle. It’s just a long hard road to make peace with that when we want the road map laid out fully before us!
One thing I personally struggle with here is how to apply Jesus’ proclamation that if we tell mountains to be cast into the sea they will do so. How much is metaphor, and how reality? I do believe that those of us in the western world are conditioned to do less, to not even think about moving those mountains. I believe that the lack of miracles today is just as much a lack of faith on a cultural level as it is a change in mode on the Father’s part. Jesus berated entire cities for their lack of faith at the macro level, saying it’s why few miracles could be performed in them.
I actually wrote about this a little while back! Yes, exactly right – I realized I had ended up sort of shrugging off the idea of miracles myself and then ended up encountering a few very specific ones in my own life. God still can, and will, work wondrous spectacles when He chooses.