But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.

–Psalm 50:23 NLT

I love that when Elizabeth hugged Mary, baby John leapt for joy. His fetal recognition of Jesus enlivened his whole being with sheer delight likened to baby lambs skipping. Everything in him responded to the wonder of being in the presence of God. With no circumstantial distress to inhibit his experience, he could not help but exuberantly abandon himself to joy.

Anna’s joy developed in years of waiting. Married for seven years, widowed for eighty-four, her days were spent caring for anyone and everyone who came through the temple gates. Tirelessly she prayed, spoke, soothed and comforted fellow Israelites coming to the Temple to connect with God. Prayer and praise were continually in her mind, her heart and uttered from her mouth. Did she get weary of the constancy of people? How could she not? Yet she lived in the sanctum of praise to God.

She came to know Him in a way that became more real to her than whatever doubts she may have had. His character sustained her, called to her, directed her. His love enveloped, envisioned and upheld her so that each day she sang to Him and brought others along with her. She recognized her God early on, becoming increasingly captivated by the wonder and immensity of Him. She found that the further up and further in she went with Jesus, His being shone more and more beautiful until all she could do was praise. Nothing earthly compared at all over against the reality of the God she came to know.

Her recognition of the Christ child began years before she saw Him face to face. It began in loss, crossroads of decisions, and a continual turning of her heart to Him. In response, God gave her eyes to see and ears to hear the purposes and movements of Himself. When she gazed on Him in Mary’s arms, the recognition of seeing God in the flesh suffused her with such joy that all she could do was draw attention to Him, telling anyone and everyone that the Savior of Jerusalem had come.

Sometimes I get so lost in the ordinariness of my days that I don’t recognize the ordinary ways God is present with me. What’s amazing as I ponder these Christmas moments, is that it was the ordinary–a hug, a temple ritual–both very much in the everyday experience of life, that opened an unexpected sight of God’s presence. And when presence became known, joy immediately followed. How I long to value the ordinary more often as the place of seeing God. How I long to respond to His presence with joy that takes me to a place of continual praise because I find that the further I go, He is more than I thought.

ACTION: What has your journey been to recognize God? In what ordinary ways might He want to show Himself to you? What “more” of God would you like to see? How do you imagine you might feel when He shows Himself to you?

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