"But when the fullness of time had come ..." said Paul (Galatians 4:4)
We are learning lessons about waiting, and how some things are not going to happen until the time of waiting has been completed. There are a lot of things we are not in control of, and we simply wait for the time in-between to slowly pass. We will not get there any faster by being impatient. A little lesson I have learned -- when I am stuck in a traffic jam one of the first things I do is to look at my watch. I make a mental note and I time how long it actually takes to get through. It is surprising how often it feels like twice as long as it actually is. And then I say to myself, "That wasn't as bad as it seemed."
When the time had fully come, God sent His Son. It had been thousands of years waiting for the first Christmas and for God to come and walk among us. But when the time had fully come there was a census, a journey to Bethlehem, shepherds in the fields, and wise men.
When the time had fully come, Jesus began His ministry. It had been about 30 years since the first Christmas, and the world was waiting for the work of salvation to get underway. Writers and movie makers speculate what had happened in the meantime with the shepherds and the wise men. But when the time had fully come, there was John's preaching and baptism, the temptations, the wedding at Cana and a Sermon up on a mountain -- all seeming to come in a flurry of activity.
When the time had fully come, Jesus came riding into Jerusalem. It had been about 3 years of ministry, And although those years were filled with teaching and miracles, with proclaiming the Gospel and how salvation was going to happen through His work, it was still years of waiting. The disciples had gotten used to the "normal state of affairs," and when it was time to go up to Jerusalem they were not ready.
When the time had fully come, it was time to eat the Passover, pray in the Garden, stand before Pilate, suffer, die and rise.
You see, when we are waiting for the time to fully come it all seems to move so very slowly. But when the time has fully come everything happens very, very quickly. All that has been being prepared seems to come in a rush. The disciples were hardly able to realize what was happening before everything changed again. That's how it is when the time has fully come. When the time had fully come it was time to earn salvation, forgive sins, bring the promise, begin the resurrection of all His Christians. In a whirlwind the political and religious forces gather and are defeated, along with death and the devil. All so very quickly. And the Gospel was fulfilled.
And then it was time for more waiting. Paul spent his youth learning from the Rabbis and great scholars of his day. He did not welcome the changes sweeping through with this new teaching about Jesus. But when the time had fully come he was on a road to Damascus and had his life completely turned around by Jesus. He then preached Jesus as the Christ. And then came 17 years of quiet study until Barnabas asked him to come to Antioch and teach the new Gentile believers. And then very quickly the time was fulfilled and there were mission journeys to do, all over the Roman world.
We are waiting again for the time to fully come. Events will move slowly, and then suddenly all at once. That's how life is, slow days in-between big changes. Each of those days in-between is given by God. A part of discipleship is to learn how to go through the in-between times keeping on walking as the disciple, because all of the slow in-between days are days to learn from our Teacher. The time will come when we are able to gather again, and we will look back on these days of waiting.
And one more time we are waiting for the time to be fulfilled. On to the end day after day will look very much like any other day. But when the time has fully come, once again everything will come in a rush. The stars will fall, the trumpet will sound and Jesus will return.
We have in-between days, and each one is a day to live as a follower of Jesus, knowing He is with us, and that we are children of God, held in His mercy and being brought by a Good Shepherd to share His life and blessings. "You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; ..." (Psalm 16)
Lord Jesus, let today be a day of following You, learning of Your grace, Your mercy, and Your providing care. Guide me into Your words and promises, and let me build my life, my hopes, and daily pattern around Your presence in my life. Amen.