“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?”
Zero and Four.
“How many days until the last day of school before Christmas break?”
“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.
This is my house.
Every day. All day. From three of my four children and I’m sure if the 14-month-old could count and talk, I’d be doing this for him, too.
Mom is the walking Advent calendar, the perpetual countdown machine. Punch in the numbers and out spits the carefully calculated response.
Unless I’ve answered enough times that day, in which case I point mutely to the calendar on the wall and let them do the math.
We are living for the countdowns and loving the promise that on appointed days at specific times, we will celebrate. The big day will arrive. The anticipation will give way to fulfillment.
Yet, so much of life seems to hang on uncertain hooks with undefined strength. The deadlines are hazy. The promise is there, but not the timing. We can’ t count down the days and know that on this date, at this time, the one we’ve circled in red on our calendar, God will come through for us.
The waiting will end.
The promise will come.
The deliverance is here.
The prayer will be answered.
The waiting eats away at our hope; it’s the corrosion of impatient despair.
What to do? What to do when you read the words that God will work this out but each day you wake up thinking “Maybe this is the day” and each night you lie back down, “Maybe it’s tomorrow?”
For 400 years, Israel paused. For 400 years, they waited for the Messiah and heard only silence between the Old Testament’s end and that first moment that John the Baptist stepped out of the wilderness and yelled out for the people to repent.
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 some had long since given up hope. The anticipation perhaps gave way to cynical apathy. Or frenzy—maybe the desperation spurred them on to follow any false teacher with any false message of hope.
Yet, just when the perfect time had come, Jesus was there. He wasn’t late, not for a second. And He wasn’t early.
Paul wrote in Galatians that:
“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).
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 appointed time came and God answered. He is faithful.
Those prophets said it centuries before:
“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).
God’s promises are for the appointed time.
It feels like so much hesitation and delay, but “It will not fail….wait for it….it will certainly come.”
Christmas does this. It gives us hope for the waiting room and the silent days because God did not fail His people. He had not abandoned them. He never let go of the promised salvation, never wavered or faltered. Nothing interrupted His plans. No one stood in His way. He never for one single second lost sight of the perfect plan for the perfect time.
Christmas is God showing up in glory in the way and on the day they least expected His presence, but in the way and on the day God planned all along.
I don’t want to miss Him showing up in my life. I don’t want the waiting to rile up doubts. I don’t want to settle my heart into complacency so I stop even looking for the glory and just shift my eyes to the mundane.
In the waiting, let us keep hope. In the waiting, let us keep watch. In the waiting, let us busy ourselves with obedience for today, trusting tomorrow to Him.
Originally posted December 12, 2011
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. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.