And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
Christmas celebrates a birth. What is sometimes overlooked in our celebration is it was a birth following nine months of expectancy from conception. A conception that followed millennia of expectancy from promise. And a birth followed by some three decades of expectancy.
No one celebrates the waiting, but the gestation of Christ provides one of the clearest examples of an important truth:
The God who is able to do instantly, often doesn’t.
Some things God does in a moment, others He takes His time.
• He created the world by the spoken word, but still took time to do what He could have done instantly.
• He performed some miracles instantaneously (calming the storm), some were a process (blind man saw men as trees), and some were considered “late.” (Lazarus was raised from the dead, but could have been healed from his sickness and not even experienced death).
• He could have provided salvation instantly, but came to live to adulthood in human flesh and then suffer for hours on the cross to atone for our sins.
God often works while we wait. In fact, much of the Christian existence is lived between promise and fulfillment . . .
• He saves us in a moment, then takes a lifetime to work out our salvation through the process of sanctification.
• He answers some prayers instantly, and waits on others. (Even Paul prayed three times and still got a “no” answer).
• Sometimes His guidance is clear, while at others it takes a great deal of time searching and praying to receive.
God is a God of the instant, but He is also a God of the process.
So, when the God who can do things instantly waits there is a reason. If God takes His time with something He could have done immediately, there is some benefit for me in the wait.
Could be that the timing is better. Waiting may be necessary to mature or strengthen my faith. Learning may occur during the process.
Whatever the reason, there is some benefit for me in the process of accomplishing His purpose that I would not have gotten had He done it instantly. By taking His time, God will ultimately bring greater glory to Himself, and greater good to me.
What can I do when God takes His time?
1. Let it go. I should quit trying to have my way and quit demanding that God work on my timetable. Stop expecting the instant and start accepting the process.
2. Live in the tension between promise and fulfillment. This is the real test of faith. It’s easy to trust God when He works like I expect, but true faith trusts when He takes a different route to a better destination.
3. Learn what God has for me to gain from the process.
At every point in our Christian life God will be “processing” something. What is He taking His time with in your life? Are you impatient, or willing to let it go? Anxious, or trusting God? Complainingly persevering, or learning the lesson the Divine Schoolmaster has prepared?
God is doing what God is doing in God’s time.
He is the God of the process, and you can trust Him.
Learn to celebrate the wait.