It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here. Not much snow yet (we were supposed to get something today, but... nope), but the temperatures have sure dropped, and the wind is whipping everything around enough that the workmen couldn’t work on our roof today like they’d planned. On the plus side, we got our Christmas tree, so there’s that.
In our service this week, the (extended) Andrews family lit our second Advent Candle. It was great to see Mark, Nikki, Olivia, and Philip up there, but it was also a joy to have Grandma Sherri and Aunt Melinda up there as well. Melinda read from Isaiah and Mark shared about how God’s timing is less about a date and more about a readiness -- a readiness on our part, a readiness of the contextual situation, but mostly a readiness from God to do things when He knows that they need to be done.
I know that what he’s saying is totally true and thoroughly Biblical, but I also know that it can be hard for people to hear when they’ve got massive issues exploding in their lives, and would really like to feel God’s calming presence immediately. It’s hard emotionally to wait on God’s timing, even when you know intellectually that His timing is right. But then again, we never need to wait on God’s timing to feel God’s calming presence. I mean, our calm should never be based on our relative circumstances, but rather on what we know about God’s character and His faithfulness -- and those things never change. The problem is with me re-thinking my thinking.
For instance, this morning, my dog threw up on the complex Christmas present that I was preparing to wrap, and I was thoroughly disgusted on every level. But when Buster kept coming up to me sheepishly to apologize as I worked to clean it up over the next half an hour or so, it was hard to stay angry with him. The circumstances hadn’t changed at all -- I’m still punting about what to do with the present -- but my heart calmed because I stopped to think about the hearts of the individuals involved. The circumstances hadn’t changed, but I’d changed, and re-thinking my thinking changed everything.
In our message, we talked about how God often does things differently than we would do them (oh, let’s be honest -- He almost always does things differently than we would do them). His timing is off, He uses the wrong people in the wrong ways in the wrong venues, and He doesn’t follow up on it all in ways that make sense to us. From a modern standard of performance, God really stinks at doing ministry.
Then again, perhaps this is another example of the need to re-think our thinking. It’s easy for us to judge God based on what we’d want, or on what we’d expect, or even on what we often think that we so desperately need (remember, the heroin addict is certain that they need more heroin -- so being a bit too close to the problem can distort your perceptions). But it’s helpful to remind ourselves of the “How?” of the Christmas story -- not just the details of the narrative, but the crucial detail that God did all of it so wrong from our anticipations, and yet still perfectly fulfilled everything that He’d said that He was going to do.
“How” did God do things on that first Christmas? Correctly. Perfectly.
“How” does God do things today in our own lives? The same way.
Re-think your thinking today, and remind yourself that God knows what He’s doing, even if you don’t...