The new year races towards me, but today, it’s only Christmas Eve.
Still, as I read Luke 2 this morning, my thoughts went to the words I’ve been pursuing in these last days of 2016—“the right time”—as I read their counterparts only a few verses into the famous, beautifully captured words of the Christmas story. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
The time came.
How often we spend wondering when the time will come… the time to get married. the time to have kids. the time to change jobs. the time to take some time off. the time to work harder than ever. We’re confined by time, walled in, walled out—and so often, stuck.
But God is not within this prison cell with us. He’s not controlled by time; He controls it Himself. And the simple phrase “the time came” is, to God, “the right time.” Galatians 4.4 says it this way: when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son.
Each year I spent between my first summer in South Asia and now grew an anticipation in me. Sometimes, it was a silent brooding; others, a loud “nahi” accidentally spoken in the checkout line at Kroger to friends who had no idea of the depth my love went for this place. It was a longing spilling out of me; I was full, overflowing. But detours and roadblocks and some days without a single word from God were all making the fullness happen—even though I thought it was just my own sin setting me up for heartbreak. No, the fullness would come. But it couldn’t come until the time was right. Otherwise, it would not be fullness, not really. It would be an empty fulfillment with little to give away.
And even though the fullness of the fulfillment has led me into a deeper emptying, a greater longing for something that I will never find in this world—even in all the hardship and brokenness in the past full year living here: I’ve always had something to give away. I’ve always had fullness when the time came. the time to speak. the time to be silent. the time to get away. the time to press in. the time to escape. the time to be all here. the time to rest. the time to work. the time to sow. the time to harvest. and now, the time to sing.
Earth had been filled with the silence of hardened hearts and blind visionaries, the darkness of sin’s grip on each person and every piece of creation. But then, God broke in. When the time was right, a baby’s cry split the silence. And you know the story… And in a field nearby, shepherds were keeping watch over their flock by night. But what came next, following their own cries of fright? A song— “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
And that very song will never stop. Unheard in the dark days of Israel’s revolutionaries and revolts, stoppered by the warfare of invading foes—now it breaks over them & us, at just the right time.
And while we wait to sing it without waiting and wondering when we’ll see that glory more fully, feel that peace more deeply, for now, let’s be still—but not silent, and simply sing along.
Glory (Christmas Eve)
the fullness of her time had come
the completion of this child
formed in the womb like a son of man
but born of God
the limit of the time had come
for night to break to day
sang in the fields to the shepherds:
Jesus Christ will save
glory to God in the highest
and peace to reign
where chaos stood
now, the right time had come
still He comes again
to rescue, redeem, and reveal all
the hearts of sinful man
then, we await that more glorious day
He will come for us
our hearts made pure, now fit to know
the heart of God
glory to God in the highest
the light of the world
(PS: cf. “Angel’s Lullaby” by Christy Nockels for this beautiful melody).