With Christmas coming soon, we pause to remember what happened a couple thousand years ago.
Of course, we know the whole story. The King of heaven was born, lived and died, resurrected and returned to the Father where he came from, all over a period of about 33 years. We can read a lot about his life, family, teachings, friends, followers, and foes in the pages of Scripture.
But if we had a hundred lifetimes, we could never grasp the magnitude of what happened. God’s truth and our understanding are a mismatch made in heaven.
Since we know the entire story, I think we can venture outside our human made-up calendar of holidays and talk about the years after the first Christmas.
While we know a good bit about the last three years of Jesus’ life on Earth, we know comparatively little about his first 30.
We know the first “silent night, holy night” was the beginning of a 30-year period where the long-awaited Savior was living among people, known only to a relative few. Sure, we know Jesus and his family lived in Egypt for a time. Then there was the story from years later of this young man, whose parents left town without him, in the synagogue in Jerusalem. But overall, Jesus worked as a carpenter in Nazareth, a town that was not highly regarded.
One year before his public ministry began, the Savior of the world had been on Earth, living among us for 29 years.
His time had not yet come to begin the work for which he was born.
The Word walked among us there in Nazareth. Mothers delivered healthy babies and lost some. There were weddings, family celebrations, and burials. The Torah was read aloud for all to hear, including the parts in Isaiah about the coming Messiah.
People lived their imperfect lives in full view of God himself.
I’m sure Jesus lived as a caring, loving man should. He encouraged and comforted, wept and laughed, learned and taught, worked hard, and then stopped for lunch. Some days were better than others.
As we move into a new year, may we be people who have a clear idea of what “Emmanuel” (God with us) really means. He is at work, all the time, unseen to us. He works in the present and the future, as he did in the past.
But just because we can’t see him, doesn’t mean he isn’t at work.
He’s already been through the entire next year and is preparing the way for us with challenges to be met, trials to endure, joys to enjoy, and growth to be accomplished.
A number of years ago, at a particularly dark moment, the Holy Spirit put some words in my mind that I will never forget: “I see you.”
Whatever your situation, Jesus is with you. He sees you because his spirit lives in you.
Christian writers might have a better concept of how long things take to come to fruition, since writing is a time-consuming process. But they are still human and generally impatient.
So when our timing doesn’t seem to be working out the way we thought, maybe God’s timing isn’t on the same calendar page we are.
He is working. He is faithful.