Remembering: The Christmas Countdown

Originally posted on December 12, 2011

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV).

“Mom, how many days until Victoria’s birthday?”

“How many days until we go see The Nutcracker?”

“Once we see The Nutcracker, how many more days will it be until Victoria’s birthday and then to Christmas?”
Four and Eight.

“How many days until my party at school?”
Three for Lauren, four for Victoria.

“How many days until our program?”

“How many days to Christmas?  Do you know how many hours that might be?”
Thirteen and go ask your dad.

Right now, my kids are living for the countdowns.  We’ve carefully examined the calendar, marking every upcoming event and charting out the wait-time from now until then.

Still, every day they ask me to perform mental calculations rapidly and with precision.

Then they moan and groan as if five days of waiting is interminable and two weeks of patience too much to bear.

Inspired by all the anticipation, my oldest daughter asks, “How long until I’ll be thirteen?”

Now I’m the one moaning and groaning.

In some ways, I share all their excitement.  I can’t wait to see them open the special gifts I’ve chosen for them or enjoy special family time and build on the traditions they’re only just becoming old enough to appreciate.

Still, it’s made me realize how I struggle with the Christian walk because there so often aren’t any countdowns at all, not that I know of anyway.

How many days until You reveal Your will, Lord?

How many days until I know what this experience is for?

How long until You deliver me from this circumstance?

How much time must I wait for You to answer this prayer?

So much of my life seems to hang right now on uncertain hooks with undefined strength.  Perhaps you feel this way also–like you’re just dangling there, waiting for the “Go” sign, the signal, the map, or the plan.  And until then, you wait with anxious anticipation, always on guard, always watchful so that you don’t miss the moment when God says, “Now.”

The trouble is, we have no date on the calendar to circle in red as the day God will speak or the moment our time of waiting will end.  No certain time of revelation or definitive arrival date for answered prayers.

So, we keep up our focused vigil and continue doing what God has told us to do right now, trusting that He’ll reveal the next step to us clearly and in His perfect time.

That’s what the Israelites did for 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the moment that John the Baptist first stepped out of the wilderness and began crying out for people to repent.

They waited.

They looked for the Messiah.

They prayed and searched His Word and obeyed (hopefully) what He had told them to do before.

In the Gospel of Mark, the very first words we have recorded from Jesus are “The time has come.” (Mark 1:15).

How appropriate.

Maybe the people of God weren’t able to countdown the days to the Messiah’s ministry on earth, but God could.  He knew the right moment all along and He didn’t rush His plan or sleep through the alarm.

When the time had come, Jesus was there.

Paul wrote in Galatians thatwhen the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV).

And later in Titus:  God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior (Titus 1:2-3).

The writer of Hebrews tells us: But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come (Hebrews 9:11 AMP).

The time between the promise and the fulfillment must have seemed impossible and unending.  Just as there were many who still fervently sought out the Messiah, still others probably had given up.  After hundreds of years without revelation from God, who could blame them?

And yet, at the appointed time, Jesus was born.

This was the promise for the prophets during all of those centuries of waiting:

 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay (Habakkuk 2:3, NASB).

Notice that Habakkkuk says, “it will not delay.”

We might disagree.  For those tapping their foot in the waiting room, it certainly seemed like a delay.

Yet, not from God’s perspective.  He knew all along when the appointed time would come, and He wasn’t a moment too soon or a second too late.

He never is.  We can take heart that God knows exactly where we are in the countdown even when we don’t and we can rejoice with the Psalmist that “my times are in Your hands” (Psalm 31:15a).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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