Anticipating Advent: The Set Time

I remember different things surrounding Christmas growing up: treat bags after the Sunday school Christmas program, waking up early Christmas morning, stockings. I know there were presents too; I can imagine the wrapped packages under the tree . . . but I have a difficult time recalling specific presents. But there is, at least, one I do remember.

I grew up in a bowling family. Saturday mornings during the school year were spent at The Plaza Bowl in Clinton, Iowa knocking down pins. The routine included renting a pair of bowling shoes and picking out a bowling ball for my scheduled two games. For a long time, it was the 8 lb. ball that I would grab from the rows of generic bowling balls, later it was the 9 lb. ball. These balls were usually black, with a blue star right above the finger holes. The extra boring ones were just black, no star. After a few years of this, I started coveting the fancy bowling balls some of the other girls had: bowling balls that had been purchased. These balls were in color, sometimes multi-colored (swirls), sometimes dotted-through-with- glitter (wow!).

One Christmas, I found under the tree, a very square (about the size square that would hold a bowling ball) and a very heavy (about the heaviness of an 8 or 9 lb. bowling ball) wrapped box. I was sure it must be a bowling ball, but I couldn’t be completely sure. I held the wrapped box. I shook it too. Bowling ball. Definitely. But, what if it wasn’t? I so desperately wanted to know. I couldn’t stand the waiting, waiting. And so . . .

I came home from school one afternoon before Christmas and broke the biggest Christmas rule ever: I unwrapped the box enough to see that it was, indeed, a beautiful, bright red, dotted-through-with-glitter bowling ball. I remember an initial thrill of excitement and then a bad, guilty feeling. Something wasn’t quite right about this.

The waiting was over. But the timing was off.

There is something about waiting. And there is something about perfect timing. Waiting for the perfect time to open a gift. Or another way of saying it: “the set time.” God made it that way. Waiting is part of our walk with Him; it has always been that way for God’s children. We are a waiting folk, aren’t we? And we get into trouble when we grow impatient with waiting for God; the Bible has lots of stories like that. We wait, we wait, we wait, but not in vain. We wait in hope for God’s perfect timing.

                    But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
Galatians 4.4-5

God’s timing is perfect. Ours is not so perfect. So wait with me.
~Danyale Tamminga

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