Anna’s heart, it seems was bursting with joy.
She couldn’t keep what she had seen to herself.
Her story is in Luke 2:
”36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. “
I love this story. Anna had been waiting. She stayed at the temple night and day praying, fasting, seeking God and looking for the Promised One. Then it happened. Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple. Simeon the prophet saw them and recognized Jesus as the Promised One. Anna saw what was happening and she too realized that the one she had prayed for, the one she had been waiting for had come! He was there, the savior of God’s people.
We see then that after meeting the family, she talked about the child to EVERYONE who was looking for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Anna told everyone about what she had seen and heard that day in the temple. She couldn’t wait to tell them that the rescuer had come, salvation was near.
Anna was filled with Joy. That’s why she told everyone she could.
Her joy overflowed into telling anyone who would listen.
She didn’t tell them because she had a duty to tell them.
She didn’t tell them because she wanted to be obedient.
She didn’t tell them because she needed to, was expected to, or had to.
She told them because she couldn’t contain the joy. He was here!
He has come, the savior. And he has saved us, those who trust in his life, death and resurrection.
He has forgiven our sins - past, present and even future.
He has taken the righteous wrath of God that we as sinners deserve. He bore that wrath on the cross.
He has not only forgiven our sins but graciously he has granted to us his holiness. We are not just forgiven, we are made holy and pure, without spot or blemish.
He has made us sons and daughters of God, the King.
He has secured for us a place with our Father, forgiven and free forevermore.
He has promised that he is coming back to gather us, God’s children, and when he does he will right all of the wrongs, defeat all of his enemies, and fix all that is broken.
This is beautiful grace. It is a gift. It isn’t what we deserve.
It isn’t what you deserve for your wrongs.
It isn’t what you deserve for your willful rebellion, for the way that you have treated others, the way you have ignored what is good and shunned the father who loves you.
We don’t deserve forgiveness.
What we deserve is wrath.
What we deserve is sin’s penalty - eternal condemnation and separation from God.
This is beautiful grace… which should bring us great joy.
It did at one time, for me. It still does, but I remember those early days, the weeks and months after first seeing the gospel of Jesus Christ as the incredibly good news that it is. I was changed! I wanted to know more, to do more, to tell more because in the moment I believed, I was filled with joy. I understood for the first time the great depth of the Father’s love and the great grace that was needed for someone as sinful as me. That I could be so loved, so desired, so forgiven - it all filled me with joy, the kind of joy that cannot be contained.
That was Anna’s joy.
I want that joy again.
I want that joy for us, New City.
I am praying for it, that God would restore to us the joy of our salvation.
I’m praying that like Anna we would be so overwhelmed with joy, it could not be contained!
I’m praying that my joy and your joy in all that Jesus has done for us and the beauty of his grace toward us would overflow from us like a river of hope and life to everyone around us.
I’m praying that for you.
I think that is where genuine, radical missionality begins, with our own joy in salvation.
That missionality, like Anna’s doesn’t come from a sense of duty.
It isn’t a matter of working for obedience.
We don’t share because we need to, or it is expected or because we have to.
That missionality naturally happens when our joy cannot be contained.
Lord, Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. (Psalm 51:12-13)
Will you pray this with me? For me? For us?
Pray with me that once more we might be filled with that life giving, overflowing joy - for the good of His people and for His great glory.
** This is part 2 in a series of blog posts on Radical Missionality.
Click here for Part 1, “What’s Missing is Radical Missionality.”