But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Gal 4:4-5)
There are a great number of verses in Scripture that speak of ‘patience’, ‘waiting on the Lord’ and ‘in God’s time’. I have chosen to reference only one because it so beautifully illustrates our main point.
The verse, however, forces a question. Why didn’t God send his son when the children of Israel were slaves for 400 years in Egypt? Or when they were captives in Babylon, or just before the Assyrians nearly wiped them from the face of the earth? For that matter, why didn’t Jesus come to earth as the child of Adam and Eve, and save the world from so many millennia of suffering and pain and oppression and death? On the other hand, why didn’t he wait until today, when the Internet and television could have helped him broadcast his message worldwide in minutes? Why not today when he could have been interviewed on CNN, had a book published and had his own blog? Why come to earth in a technologically barren time, in a backwater place like Palestine in a dreary era such as the first century Middle East?
This question parallels so many others in our lives that deal with our time-line and God’s perfect timing. I don’t know about you, but my own perception of what would be ‘a good time for God to act’ seldom coincides with his saving and transforming actions. I have wondered where God was at times, why his entrance into the scene seemed to require that we stand on the very brink of disaster? Yet as I look back on my life, he was always there. Disaster was averted, rescue came, strength was restored just when it was needed.
And so it was in the larger history of God’s salvation of humanity and all creation. In the great sweep of this covenant history, God chose one precise historic moment, one exact geographical place, one very human woman and one decisive intervention into human affairs. We don’t know why he chose this time or place or woman, but if we believe the Scriptures to be true (and we do!) then we also believe that this was the exact right and perfect time and place and woman.
“But when the time had fully come.” That is the promise. That is why at Christmas we celebrate God’s entrance at the perfect moment in the entire history of the earth and, indeed the entire cosmos. This was the time for God’s decisive act that would erase our sin, redeem us and bring us back into relationship with our Creator.
What is there in your life that requires you to wait patiently for ‘the time to fully come?’ Impatience will increase our anxiety, rob us of our joy and dry our soul. I pray that in this pre-Easter season you will journey back for a moment to stand in front of the manger, that symbol of God’s eternal faithfulness to us. Just as he came at exactly the right moment in human history, so he will come and act in your life at precisely the right moment. And that faith, that trusting posture, and that act of patience and confidence will refresh your spirit.
Gracious Lord, I have not always been patient as I waited for you to answer prayer, to intervene on my behalf, to heal or comfort or bring about justice. I confess that I have wondered at times if you would act at all. Forgive me for my impatience, my shortsightedness and my self-centeredness. Remind me again that you always come in the fullness of time. You are the Lord of time, and I will rest in that wonderful knowledge. Help me to be patient, to wait and hope and believe. And as I do, refresh my spirit. In the name of the one who came in the fullness of time as my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.