She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them 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. Luke 2:37-38
Nothing stood in the way of Anna loving God. She lived in a time and a culture when women–especially widowed older women like her–faced many obstacles. The political government and religious community of the day would have looked upon women like Anna as inferior and second class. As a result, she would have been marginalized to the outer fringes of society.
And yet Anna still loved and worshiped God. Even more, God loved and honored her. Anna was known as a prophetess because of the obvious mark of the Holy Spirit on her life. Her testimony of devotion to God shines through her holiness and chastity.
Love for God is what gave her word legitimacy when the baby Messiah came to the temple and she spoke about him to all who anticipated his arrival. Anna’s life teaches us that the religious and political rulers might make the laws and enforce them, but God’s spirit operated outside of human structures.
We can’t impose limitations on God. Anna’s devotion asks this question–do we get caught up in adhering to rules, or are we going to recognize where God is working?
The Christmas story answers that question with proof that God works completely free from power structures, social customs, or religious laws.
Jesus was conceived outside the social customs of marriage. He lived outside Herod’s palace. God promised Zechariah and Elizabeth a child outside the limitations of old age. The Holy Spirit was active in the live of Anna, outside the expectations of gender roles.
Luke’s account of the Christmas story shows that God is in the submissive, open heart of Mary. He is present in the quiet vulnerability of humble surroundings. His word can be found in the righteousness of obedience and prayer. His delight is in the life of devotion and worship.
All these things–submission, vulnerability, humility, righteousness, obedience, prayer, and worship have the same thing in common which is love.
The love of God transcends any obstacles, barriers, or limitations. Love is where freedom is found. Our love for God and his love for us is the place from where power, value, and peace flow.
Are you longing for freedom today? If so, I encourage you to stand with Anna in the temple–the place of worship and prayer, and offer yourself with new devotion to God’s plans and his purpose for your life.