When I was in college one of my professors told of a missions teaching trip he had made to India. Near where he was staying were several small caves where those following Hinduism would go for silence and prayer.
He decided to hike into that area one day and out of curiosity found a cave and began to make his way in. The hole was small and he actually had to crawl on his stomach to get into a bigger space where he might be able to at least sit up.
Eventually reaching that space, he started to pull himself up and realized it was a very small space… and someone was already there. He rose up and found himself literally nose to nose with someone already occupying the spot. Not knowing exactly what to say, he asked, “How long have you been here?”
He expected the man, who was by all appearances a Westerner, to look at his watch and say, “Oh, about 20 minutes.”
The man looked at the intruder and said, without blinking, “About 20 years.”
The pursuit of prayer, the pursuit of something “other”, had led the man into a prayer cave for 20 years. What foolishness.
In Jesus’ time there were two fools just like that: Simeon and Anna.
Both were up in years. It could be assumed that they just had nothing better to do than hang around the Temple area. But they were about the business of the Kingdom. They were a bridge between what had been and what was to come. Their attitude of prayer and worship caught the favor of God and he promised both of them they would see the Hope of Israel.
And they waited.
We need this attitude. We need this listening ear. To wait. To hear the voice of the Spirit. To know the Spirit is directing us to even wait.
Simeon heard from the Spirit the day Jesus would come to the Temple. Simeon wasn’t predisposed to looking for a grown man. He was predisposed to listening to the Spirit. So, making his way through the Temple area and hearing the Spirit say, “See that baby? That’s the One,” was nothing to Simeon. He was beyond doubting. He was fine tuned in his spirit to hear and it was nothing to look at that baby and see the Hope of the nations.
We need listening ears, and we need to ditch our clocks.