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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

The Joy Of Christmas…Enthusiasm

December 14th, 2007

A couple years ago I was working in the Team Shop during a Phoenix Suns game. During the halftime rush I saw an elderly gentleman looking at my name badge.

“Hi there, Todd! How’s it going?”

“Great! How’s it going for you?”

“Fantastic! I’m 87 years old and I love my job!”

“Your job?”

“Yep. I’m 87, I’m a commercial realtor and I love my job! Can’t wait for Monday to get here. I feel sorry for people who hate what they do.”

“But you know, Todd, I’m 87. So I started thinking maybe I should retire. So I said to the wife, “You know, I’m 87. Maybe I should retire.” Know what she said to me?”

“What?”

“If you do, I’m gettin’ a job.”

Enthusiasm. The optimistic, forward looking attitude that can’t wait for Monday to arrive and open itself like a present. We like being around enthusiastic people. People who are passionate about what they do and what’s important to them. I wasn’t in the market for a commercial building, but if I was I’d call the 87 year-old who couldn’t wait for Monday. Enthusiasm draws us.   

Enthusiasm. It literally means “God within”. And while it’s certainly easier to be enthusiastic if life is going smoothly, enthusiasm by definition has nothing to do with one’s circumstances.

Enthusiasm is about Who resides within.

Tucked away in the latter verses of Luke 2 we find an enthusiastic elderly woman named Anna. All we know of Anna is that she was married for seven years before her husband died and then lived as a widow to the age of 84. The text says she never left the temple. 

Given the fact that women then married young, Anna lived the majority of her life as a widow. Women had few rights in this culture. They depended greatly on the marriage relationship and extended family for support. It was especially difficult to be a widow with no family. While we don’t know for certain, that may have been the reason Anna never left the temple. It could be she had nowhere else to go.

Yet more important than her marital and social status is what we read about her heart. She “served continuously with fastings and prayers” and she was “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem”. Anna was anticipating God’s salvation. The text says that at the very moment she saw the baby Jesus, she “ran up and began giving thanks to God and continued to speak of the child to everyone who was looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

Anna was 84 and advanced in years. Yet she’s not acting or thinking “old”. It’s true, isn’t it? We grow older but we don’t have to grow old. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Anna is vibrant in her faith and life because she focused on worship and prayer. She’s centered herself on God’s purpose. In her worship and prayer, Anna acknowledges that there is something bigger than her age and her marital status. It’s all about her God she faithfully serves. She’s so tuned in to God that she recognizes what is happening before her eyes.

Her enthusiasm turns to active joy. She continues to speak of the child Jesus to everyone who’s looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Which in her Jewish world was just about everyone. Can you imagine her in the temple? “Did you hear about the Jesus baby? He’s the Messiah, you know. Just ask Simeon. He got to hold him! It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened. Really, go talk to Simeon. But you better talk to him pretty soon. He could die any day now, you know.” 

Enthusiasm. God within. Genuine enthusiasm isn’t self-generated. And isn’t that a relief? It’s not some manufactured self-help technique. Enthusiasm in our life flows from God residing within us. The same God who said, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Enthusiasm.

God within.

Don’t be afraid.

“Now there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years having lived seven years with a husband and then as a widow to the age of 84. She never left the temple, serving continuously with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she ran up and began giving thanks to God and continued to speak of the child to everyone who was looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” – Luke 2:36-38