Galatians 4:4-5 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.
Last week millions of eyes followed the big ball in Times Square as it slowly descended amid the countdown: “Five, four, three, two, one, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Not a moment too early or a moment too late.
Every New Year celebration reminds us we have no control over the passing of time. We only watch it go by. Not so with God. He isn’t a helpless bystander who wrings his hands hoping for the best or winces when things go wrong. Time is his creation. It must serve his purposes. His grace is in charge, as he proved by sending his promised Son “when the set time had fully come.” Not a moment too early. Not a moment too late. Jesus entered time at the precise moment circled on his calendar of grace.
God has a gracious purpose for the time he’s given you too. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139: 16). You were born at exactly the right time. Later you were adopted as God’s child through Baptism. Since then you’ve had time to grow in your knowledge of Jesus and mature in trusting his grace.
But often we ask, “How long, Lord? How long before this problem goes away? How long before things change? How long before you take me to heaven?” God’s answer is, “When the set time [has] fully come.” He encourages you to “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). He knows when the “due time” is, the “set time.”
When I was young, I’d watch my mother bake. She’d mix the ingredients, pour the batter into a pan, put it in the oven, and set the timer. Then she’d tell us not to jump around or impatiently open the oven door. If we did, the batter would fall flat and the cake would be ruined. The timer had to go off. Then out came a fully baked, ready-to-eat, delicious cake.
God’s grace is in charge of time. When his timer of grace went off, Jesus came. The answers to all of your “How long?” prayers are governed by that same timer, that same grace.