My family didn’t have a television when I was growing up. This was in the 1970s and 80s, long before the Internet transformed life as we know it. Sans TV, we kept up with what was going on in the world mostly by reading the newspaper.
I loved our local paper, and never more so than at Christmastime. Every year, the Kansas City Star reprinted an essay by the late humorist Bill Vaughn titled “Tell Me a Story of Christmas” that choked me up just a bit, every time I read it.
I’ve always cherished all the traditions that come with the holidays, which might be why this somewhat sappy little piece holds such a special place in my heart. (The Star still runs it every year, by the way, though these days it looks more like a graphic novel than an essay.)
Now that I have a blog, I figured it might be nice to start a literary tradition of my own at Christmastime. So this week, I return to a piece I originally posted last December—a devotional I wrote way back in 2001 when Randy and I were in the midst of what seemed like a never-ending season of waiting.
It might not feature the nostalgic prose of the Bill Vaughn essay, but it means a lot to me and perhaps it will encourage you too.
I was setting the table for our holiday meal, lost in thought about how this day would likely be the last Thanksgiving Randy and I would spend as a family of two. Sometime next summer or early fall, we will fly to China to pick up the precious—albeit as-yet-unidentified—little girl who will become our first child.
From then on, holidays at our house will never be the same again.
A phrase from a Christmas song playing on the CD player in the next room interrupted my reverie. “Oh, we are not forgotten, we are ever in God’s sight,” singer/songwriter Ginny Owens crooned, “And He will come to us when the time is right.”
He will come to us when the time is right.
Have you ever stopped to think about what that really means? God didn’t flip a coin to decide when He should come to earth as a baby. Far from it. The Messiah arrived on the scene at the exact point in history when the whole world was ready for something new. He came when all the pieces—a common language, a highly sophisticated transportation system, religious freedom, etc.—were in place to facilitate the spread of the Gospel message.
These elements were implemented by the architects of the Roman Empire, of course, but all were overseen by a sovereign Savior.
He came to us when the time was right to fulfill His purposes, His divine plan.
Fast forward 2,000 years. In an era characterized by an incessant desire for instant gratification, it’s easy to get impatient with God and wish that He would just hurry up and answer our prayers. I’ve experienced such impatience many times during years of infertility and now even more so as we wait for our daughter.
I just wish she would get here faster.
But my restlessness is buffered by the knowledge that every delay and every month of waiting is somehow built into God’s overall timetable to ensure that we receive the right little girl at just the right time. He follows His schedule, not mine. And, as He so wonderfully demonstrated through the events we celebrate at Christmas, His schedule works—every time.
I don’t know what you might be waiting for during this holiday season. Maybe it’s a new job, a husband, the restoration of a broken relationship, or a positive pregnancy test. Perhaps it’s the salvation of a loved one, physical or emotional healing, or the return of a prodigal child.
Whatever the case, waiting is difficult. It’s fraught with disappointment, frustration and sadness. But it’s also a part of life. And we can either let it steal our joy or we can choose to look for reasons to rejoice while we wait.
As the saying goes, God is never in a hurry, but He’s always on time. His answers may not always match our expectations, but they will be revealed to us when the time is right.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!