December 26, 2016


Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Simeon was one of the last people to experience the Holy Spirit in the Old Covenant way. It is significant to note that this does not say he was filled with the Holy Spirit, but rather that the Holy Spirit was upon him. (The Japanese is also very clear about that distinction.) That said, he was certainly a good man, in right standing with God. It also strikes me that even though he was such a good man, he still hadn’t seen that for which he had waited so long. By the grace of God he was allowed to see Christ, who was the answer to all he had hoped and prayed for over the years, but he certainly didn’t live to hear Jesus teach, much less witness the cross and resurrection. He was actually more blessed than the people listed in Hebrews 11 as examples of faith. As it says there, after giving that list, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39-40) Simeon was allowed to see the Messiah, and that was enough for him. We are under the New Covenant rather than the Old, so the Holy Spirit is available to fill, to indwell us in a way that He wasn’t for Simeon, so we’re already a step up from him. However, we need the same level of patience he had, waiting for God to fulfill His plans on His schedule. We don’t have legitimate room to complain about His timing, but we tend to complain anyway! We need to trust Him enough to leave our date book in His hands, letting Him decide what happens when and not striving to impose our own schedule.

This has been simultaneously a strong point and a weak point for me. I have tended to “go with the flow,” sometimes to the point of avoiding responsibility, but at the same time I have been jealous of “my” time. I need to be active in my obedience without running off on tangents or trying to run ahead. That’s certainly applicable in the matter of the land next door. It has very much been a combination of “right now” and “not yet.” We first desired it and began praying for it around 18 years ago, when we first started preparing to build this church building. Over the years various people have joined us in that prayer, but it was somewhat on the level of abstraction of “the consolation of Israel.” The house on the land was increasingly collapsing, and in June it was finally demolished and that part of the land cleared. Immediately after receiving word that had been decided, before the work began, one of our church members told me they wanted to give the money to be able to buy the land for the church. However, their money wouldn’t become available until September of 2017. I informed the landowner of that, and he was skeptical. Then in early December I was prompted to call him again, and he told me negotiations were well underway for the land to be sold to a developer, with the final contract to be signed in January, so if we really wanted the land, we had to come up with the funds by the end of the year. That caused a crisis of faith! However, God miraculously moved in the heart of a friend who is not yet a Christian, and she loaned us the $275,000, unsecured. The landowner is in shock! Today I will go to City Hall to deal with some of the legal technicalities, but God is clearly in control. The city will not be issuing more permits for group homes (which is what we want to do on the land) until fiscal 2018, so again there is waiting, but God is certainly teaching us to wait expectantly on Him.

Father, thank You for Your overflowing grace! Help us rest in that without being passive, trusting You totally without being presumptive, so that all of Your plans may indeed be fulfilled on Your schedule, in and through us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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