On the last day of school, in June, 1965, I stood in the parking lot and paused to look back at the buildings that had been the central focus of my life for the previous four years and marveled. It was almost too much to absorb–I was graduating. It was over. All the fun, the angst, the work, the studying, homework, tests, the daily structure, routine. Done. The day that I had only imagined for most of my life what it would feel like had finally come.
In the decades since, I’ve had numerous similarly epiphanic days, wedding day, childbirth, grandchildren birth, death of a parent, each and all moments noted with a sober recognition of how a thing hoped for, dreaded, or otherwise anticipated, finally does happen, no matter how long it seemed to take in the coming.
Twenty-eight centuries ago, God’s prophet, Isaiah, proclaimed a child would be born who would change everything. Isaiah didn’t say when this miracle would occur, just that it would. Eight centuries after Isaiah’s prediction, Jesus was indeed born in a most unexpected way and place in Bethlehem. In the lengthy time span from the original prophesy to the ultimate fulfillment, there was plenty of speculation about how and when the day would unfold. Over time, assumptions distorted the great Jewish hope from birth of a savior to expectation of a warrior deliverer. Some had all but forgotten about the promise altogether. Not surprisingly, when the day did come, many did not recognize the meek and non-warrior like personage of Jesus. If it had not been for some selective angel visits to shepherds and a dedicated group of wise men, the birth of Emmanuel, God With Us, might have gone completely unnoticed. And surely this was by Divine design.
The thing about time is that God owns it and He is therefore not bound by our clocks and calendars so He does things in His way and in His time, to our dismay. But, without a doubt, He does keep His promises. Isaiah counted on the birth of the Prince of Peace, though he didn’t live to see Him, but because he trusted implicitly that God does keep promises.
Two thousand years hence, Christians still celebrate the Promise that Jesus will return. Those who like to point out that it isn’t going to happen because it has taken too long just don’t understand about God’s timing, God’s expectations of patience from His faithful and God’s undeniable reliability. Like the Jews before us, we anticipate the Day without giving up because we know He is faithful. He will come, as promised. It’s scheduled. Not even Jesus could say the hour or the day, only our Father in Heaven has that privileged information.
But one day, just when many have forgotten or given up, when the concept of Christ’s return has become a vague memory, He will keep the appointment and the long awaited Day will happen.
And we will marvel.
(not happy holidays or season’s greetings)
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.