A Perfect Time

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Back in my first year in seminary, I boarded with a family who were originally from Newfoundland. It was while I was living there that I first learned to drink tea! The daughter of the house was also a first year student. While she was at school she met a young man in his final year. They began to date steadily and seriously. He owned a "bug" as they were then called. One evening we were out for a drive—her with her boyfriend and me with...well, that isn't at all interesting. We got out of the car at one point, leaving the lovebirds behind. We weren't gone long—not long enough! When we arrived back at the car, I opened the door and to my amazement and embarrassment I discovered my friend sitting in the backseat with her boyfriend on his knees in front of her, proposing. Try doing that in the backseat of a Volkswagen! I excused us and closed the door, allowing them a little more time to finish their undying declarations of love.

My timing was a little off.

But God's timing is never off.

Galatians 4:4, 5 tells us, "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."

The actual date of Christ's birth is uncertain, even though we celebrate it in December. For us a month, a day, a year, is not important. But it was to God, the Father. He picked the perfect time. The spiritual climate, the political situation, the human resources, every detail was in place, perfectly orchestrated to fulfill all the prophecies of the Old Testament and to create what He considered to be the perfect conditions for the coming of the Saviour.

Timing is important. Some people are perpetually late. Others are annoyingly early. Blessed be those who arrive on time! Ecclesiastes tells us that: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" (3:1) including a time to be born and a time to die.

Oddly enough we often think God has arrived in the events of our lives either too early (as in the death of a loved one) or too late (as in delivering us from some illness or other critical situation). Why here? Why now? Why to me? are the questions that haunt us. Like Job, we often think we need to inform God that He is out of sync with how things should be.

The psalmist found himself in a similar season of despair. "Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed with anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak...I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends...I am forgotten...I have become like broken pottery" (Psalm 31:9-12).

But the psalmist goes on to recognize something important in the midst of his own personal tragedy: "But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands" (31:14, 15). The confidence expressed here is echoed in so many of the psalms. David writes in Psalm 139: "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before any of them came to be" (vs. 16).

This same psalm reminds us that God put us together in our mothers' wombs at a specific moment in time (139:13) just as He did with His own Son. When the time was perfect, right, propitious, He sent His Son to inhabit Mary's body.

His times were in Hid Father's hands, just as ours are. The circumstances of His birth and His life were perfectly orchestrated, just as ours are. He was sent to fulfill a purpose—the redemption of mankind—just as we are here, right now, in these circumstances, to fulfill a purpose.

Ours? "...it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:8-10).

His timing for us, and whatever happens in our lives, is equally perfect. He is never too early or too late. We can imagine that Joseph and Mary might have wondered about the timing of the birth of this Child—it was dangerous time in history, the circumstances were not ideal. But it was the right time, and they, like us, needed to trust that the One Who never makes any mistakes, will bring to a perfect conclusion what His perfect timing has begun. 

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