The subject of when-God-acts has been on my mind for a couple of years. But this week, I looked out my house window and saw something that reminded me of God’s timing. And once that baby-step of understanding settled, I said to God, “There’re so many things where I trust your timing. Let me trust your timing more.” Let me tell you what led up to that prayer.
We celebrated a 90th birthday party for my father-in-law in our home mid-November. Prior to the party, my husband, David, and I groomed the yard. I weeded around sidewalks and the foundation of the house and Dave mowed. When I got to the front gate of our home, I noticed that the paperwhite narcissus bulbs had sprouted bordering the sidewalk. Small green leaves had pushed through the soil, and I thought, “Those are coming up way too early; they’ll bloom in December instead of January like they’re supposed to.”
We don’t often use our front gate and sidewalk, we’re back door people. But this week when I looked out my window toward that sidewalk, I saw taller narcissus plants. When I went outdoors and on closer inspection, I found the paperwhites biding their time, awaiting the right internal and eternal signals to start creating the buds that will eventually pop open and display delicate beauty.
Through God’s genius those plants know it is still 2010 and that 2011 hasn’t arrived. Embedded within them is God’s green-thumb-clock. They knew when it was time to push up through the ground, and they will know when it is time to bloom
The Apostle Paul wrote about God’s perfect timing of sending his Son: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, . . . that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4). Several deep truths exist in chapter four’s message other than the timing phrase.
But basically Paul tells his readers that only through Jesus we’re reborn into a new relationship with God. We become adopted sons. We have the privilege of calling our creator Father. We become heirs of his loving kindness, his forgiveness. We inherit blessings as his dear children and receive unfathomable help to cope with life on earth, even when personal timings unsettle us.
During this season, like no other throughout the year, the world’s eyes are drawn to the Christ. Most are acquainted with Christmas, but not as many are acquainted with the Christ of Christmas. I’d love to have been a sheep or a shepherd or a blade of grass on the night the timely angelic message arrived near Bethlehem.
When the host of angels appeared in the night sky, they brought both an immediate and a timeless message: Present tense for the people living at that time. The angel with a speaking part said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be [future tense] for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). At the perfect time, to the right set of shepherds, near Bethlehem, the city of bread, Jesus arrived.
The narcissus plants reminded me that I’ve trusted God’s growing and production season for a long time, why not trust his timing in my personal life. In the plant world, I’ve seen his faithfulness. His replenishing. His produce. His timing. And it’s perfect. The promised seasons have never failed to live out their purpose.
For now, doubts about his timing in my life have fled. I’ve reread the old, old story and peace has replaced uncertainty. This celebratory season cues us to remember God’s perfection and God’s timetable.
With gracious planning and purpose for all on earth, the eternal clock continues to tick, and because of Jesus, it ticks to our advantage and support. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (v. 14).