In the Fullness of Time
It was cold! It was SO cold! It was Christmas Eve and our first child wasn’t yet a year old.
Growing up, it had always been a family tradition to spend an evening driving around, looking at the Christmas lights. Sometimes it would be a civic display. Perhaps a “lighting of the Christmas tree” ceremony. Maybe a public building or park filled with lights and characters of Christmas. Other times we would just drive through neighborhoods and admire the homes and yards displaying Santa, reindeer, angels, manger scenes, and lights.
It had been a particularly busy year . . . Children’s Christmas programs, choir concerts, Advent worship services, and all the practices and preparation that goes with the season. As we left the Christmas Eve service, we looked at each other wondering what we should do. Should we brave the icy roads and the bitter cold and go see the lights . . . with a small child in tow? Or should we head home to our warm house for a quiet evening at home, make some hot chocolate, and open Christmas beside our own tree?
But, it was tradition. To two parents who had grown up as eldest children, tradition is tradition. We were all about making family traditions with our own child, so we set out in our Buick station wagon to see the lights.
The heater could barely keep up with the below freezing temperatures. The defroster struggled to clear a pair of small, half-circles of frost-free glass on the windshield. It was difficult to see the lighted homes as we slowly drove past. Finally, reaching the edge of town, we figured we had seen as many lights as we would see. Ahead, we could only see rows of cornstalk skeletons sticking out of the snow. We turned toward home.
“Did you see that?!” My wife’s question was filled with disbelief? “What?” “I thought I saw a woman beside the road . . . with a baby in her arms. I think she was waving at us . . . to stop!”
I stopped the car and slowly backed the car, the ice-crusted snow crunching under the tires. To our surprise, there stood beside the road a woman holding what appeared to be an infant wrapped tightly in layers of blankets. A car stood on the side of the dirt road, whiffs of steam rising from the hood into the frigid skies.
I rolled down the window. “Oh! Thank you! Could you give me and my baby a ride? We were supposed to meet my husband at his parent’s house . . . but my car broke down. It’s only about a mile down the road. Please?! We’ve been here for over half an hour, and you’re the first car that’s driven by. We are freezing!” We quickly cleared a space for the two, loaded up the meager gifts they were bringing, and headed off.
After safely delivering mother and child to their Christmas Eve destination, we wondered at the timing. What if we hadn’t driven by just then? What if we had chosen to go home instead of making an attempt to keep tradition? What if we had travelled down a different road? What if we hadn’t seen that mother and child?
We have often wondered at that Christmas Eve encounter. And we’ve wondered at the Christmas story. What if a census hadn’t been ordered? What if the angels hadn’t appeared to the shepherds? What if the shepherds hadn’t seen the mother and Child? What if a star hadn’t appeared in the western skies? What if the magi had reported back to King Herod instead of heading home by another road? What if . . . ?
But, it did happen! And it happened exactly according to God’s will! “In the fullness of time!”
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5
May the Christ Child – our Immanuel – fill your Christmastime with His peace and joy!
Tim & Lisa Lindeman