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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Not another "mystery" gift under the tree!

But when the time was right...  
This is a phrase which should bring such awe to our hearts, for it is the phrase expressing God's heart for all of humanity.  He purposed to provide for our needs - in the right manner. He purposed to provide for our deliverance - with the right means.  He purposed to provide for our short-comings - through the right sacrifice.  All when the "time was right".  This is something we struggle with - timing.  We all have a tendency once in a while to be a little too early or too late - our timing just not being perfect on all accounts.  We are subject to our own whims and fancies - something which will mess with our timing whenever it has a chance.  Yet, God's timing is perfect - and his ability to endure until exactly the right time is awe-inspiring.  If you remember back to when you were a kid, you would count off the days until Christmas.  You'd have advent calendars or the like to help you know just how many days till the time you could tear into those brightly colored packages beginning to take form under the tree.  Others would wonder what else would show up on Christmas morn - when the time was right - like those "mystery" gifts which appeared with the greetings, "Merry Christmas From Santa".  Those never appeared before the "timing was right", did they? There is just something of suspense in waiting which makes us all a little anxious and curious to boot.  We want to know now - God's plan may be next week.  Aye!  We must learn the importance of "when the time is right" - huh?

Children who are under age are no better off than slaves, even though everything their parents own will someday be theirs. This is because children are placed in the care of guardians and teachers until the time their parents have set. That is how it was with us. We were like children ruled by the powers of this world. But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children. Now that we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. And his Spirit tells us that God is our Father. You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and you will be given what he has promised. (Galations 4:1-7 CEV)

I remember one Christmas with my kids.  We were pretty limited in funds for Christmas gifts, so I did a lot of garage sale shopping and even some thrift store jaunts to try to find some toys for the kids.  My daughter was just at that age when she had an interest in Barbie dolls.  I had saved my Barbie and Ken dolls from when I was a kid, so I dug those out, ironed the clothes which had been wadded up over the years and stored in a shoe box, but one day I came across the thing I knew would just make her heart jump for joy.  We were garage sale shopping early one morning and I came across an old three story, plastic white and pink Barbie doll house.  No furnishings - just the house.  The family sold it to me dirt cheap and I stashed it away in the little shed off the carport.  Each night after the kids were in bed, I'd sneak out there, wash it down, polish it up a little, then begin the task of creating furnishings for each and every room.  I saved tin cans which I painted and covered with fabric pieces and batting to create stools and chairs.  I crafted bed from small boxes, foam rubber, and scraps of old sheets.  In time, the little garage sale find became a well-adorned home for her Barbie dolls.  As they went off to bed on Christmas Eve, I took it inside, set it up around the tree, complete with the dolls posed eating a meal at the kitchen table.  As she awoke the next morning, she squealed in delight!  Music to a mommy's ears, my friends!

The gift was purchased for some time before it actually was given.  Why wasn't it given right away?  The time wasn't right!  It was envisioned as a Christmas gift - not an everyday, run of the mill, gift - but one which needed a whole lot of love invested into it to make it super-special for my little girl.  I don't think my heavenly Father is much different!  In fact, he often withholds some things which are just not right according to the timing he has for my life (and yours).  It isn't because he loves us less than others, but because he knows the supreme beauty of us receiving those things in the "right timing".  We wouldn't be ready to receive them in the same manner, nor would we be as "appreciative" of those gifts if we received them ahead of that timing.  Many years later, when she was a grown woman, I heard my daughter recall this gift as she shared Christmas memories with my daughter-in-law.  I had no idea the impact that labor of love made on her life.  No idea at all.  The day she explained about the gift, I knew she had done more than squeal in delight - she had connected with my heart.  She saw the labor of love - she appreciated it - and it impacted her life.  I know this is how God wants us to view all of his gifts, as well.  Not as quickly prepared, or quickly dispensed, but as painstakingly prepared and perfectly orchestrated!

But when the time was right....God sent his Son.  This is our season of Christmas - the memory of God sending his Son.  Our personal memories of this Christmas need not be devoid of this most awesome gift, my friends.  In fact, the greatest gift of all has been given for each and every one of us.  Not so we can squeal in delight and then move on to something bigger or better, but so we can savor his gift with awe and intense love.  Let us not lose sight of the perfection of God's timing - this is his season - delight in him!  This is his time when he delighted in each of us - now it is our time to fully and completely delight in this gift he has provided "in the fullness of time".  The gift - grace.  The gift-giver - God.  The gift recipient - you and I.  Just sayin!