13 Dec God is Impossibly Slow. Christmas Helps Us Understand Why
God is impossibly slow.
Ask anyone who’s ever received a promise from heaven and they’ll testify… God is rubber-band-stretching, nails-scraping-on-the-chalkboard, agonising slow.
It seems this is the norm.
Think of Abraham, who journeyed twenty years through plaguing doubt and fear waiting for his natural-born son. Or Joseph, who rode a roller-coaster journey of contradictions for over fifteen years before his promotion into leadership. And of course, the Jews who waited through centuries of false starts for their Messiah to arrive. Christmas – the time when promises were fulfilled – took a lot longer than expected. Then when it did finally come, it looked a lot different than imagined.
There’s a pattern here.
I still remember the first time I received a significant promise from God. He spoke of blessings he had created for me. Plans he had carefully chosen and prepared. Gifts that would fill my heart with joy.
So I waited… and I waited. Eyes peeled, leaning in, wondering, expecting, hoping… like the child counting down the days to unwrap what lay beneath the tree.
Today? Tomorrow? Next week?
It’s now twenty five years later and we’re still not fully there yet. “Christmas” has taken a lot longer than I expected.
There’s empathy now with the grey-haired Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who lingered day after day in the temple, longing to see the Christ manifest (Luke 2:25-38). There’s understanding of the old-time prophets who “searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances” for the prophecies to be fulfilled (1 Peter 1:10,11). There’s appreciation for Mary who “treasured the things God had spoken in her heart” and wondered how they would unfold (Luke 2:19).
But as the years have gone by, I’ve begun to see why “Christmas” – a time when promises are fulfilled – can take so painstakingly long.
The truth I understand now that I didn’t understand then, was that in waiting for Christmas, God is doing a lot more than wrapping his presents with a silver bow. Between the promise and fulfilment, God is hard at work in preparation. Preparing us, preparing others; preparing the circumstances… There’s a lot more involved than we can possibly see before the right time comes.
But when it does, there will be a sense of readiness. The circumstances will be ripe for completion. As the writer to the Galatians described it – it was in the “fullness of time” that God sent his Son (Gal. 4:4).
Yes, it took a long time for Christmas to come… But it did come and when it did, God’s gift brought greater joy than anyone could have dreamed. For anyone waiting for “Christmas”, it will always be worth it.