Widow Stories: Maybe Anna Had It Right

Remember Anna? She appears briefly in the book of Luke, chapter 2 — the only place we hear about her in the Bible. A widow, 84 years old, living in Jerusalem’s Temple. She was known as a prophet and was a direct descendant of Jacob. 

Her husband died when they had been married for only seven years (just like my husband Gene and me, by the way). She probably had no children to provide for her care, so she undoubtedly sought a safe place to live.

Here’s what I notice most about her story:

“She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer” (Luke 2:37).

What a high calling she answered when she devoted her life to the things of God! In return, she received the protection and provision she sought. And a special blessing from God that her people had been expecting for generations.

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Anna had it right.

When I look at Anna, I see the value of a well-ordered life. Her priorities were God’s priorities. Living in the Temple, she certainly must have encountered a lot of interesting people — including Mary and Joseph and their new baby, whom she recognized right away as the long awaited Messiah. 

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Anna had it right.

She trusted God completely and knew her needs were taken care of through his provision. Every day, she saw the evidence of God’s care. Her priorities put God first, and he organized the rest of her life.

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Anna had it right.

When Anna prayed, she must have been reaching up to hold God’s hand. That was the only hand she had to hold. 

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Anna had it right.

In our U.S. culture, women receive praise, encouragement, and often financial reward when they strive to make it on their own. As I look back over my life, I see how I bought into that message on so many levels. As I look at my life as a widow, I see how that independence has served me well for survival. But what have I missed along the way?

I have made too many other parts of my life a priority for too many years. Money, stuff, travel, achievement, adventure, even change. Often I put God second, third, or even last. I’m not proud of that fact.

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I wonder if Anna had it right.

Unlike Anna, I often struggle with how to allot my time, where to put my energy, when to spend and when to save, how to glorify God through all the blessings he has given me. I have learned that when I put God first and allow him to order my priorities, my life makes so much more sense. But sometimes I forget or ignore that and go charging off on my own. Again.

I just did it again this past week. At work, I put so much energy into a project I was working on that I had nothing left for anything or anyone else. Every night, I crawled into bed feeling empty and used up. 

Today, I adjusted my priorities and began the day in the best way possible: worshipping God together with my church family and hearing an excellent message from Pastor Randle. I did my best to turn the rest of the day around, too, by nurturing myself. Doing some things I love to do. Catching up with some dear friends whom I’ve ignored for too long. Cooking some nice meals for myself. Playing with Raven and Jet, my feline companions. Listening to a beautiful cello concerto. Reading, reflecting, writing.

I love what Pastor Randle Elmore said in his 9/2/2018 message at Living Springs Community Church in Glenwood, Illinois: “Seek God’s presence. His momentum will propel us for eternal kingdom impact.” My assignment for this (and every) week! 

Where are your priorities today? Do they need a little re-ordering? I know you and I probably aren’t called to live in a temple. But we are called to put God first in our lives. We are called to serve him first above all else. We can ask for his help and then trust that he will provide everything we need. 

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What more

do we need?

“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

Photo by Mary Ann Dare

Photo by Mary Ann Dare

Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2018 by Laura Warfel