When the Right Time Arrived

shed tin roof ch rs DSC_0093

It was a mess. A world of division, compromise, corruption, and religiously followed traditions and rituals detached from roots of love and relationship. A hodge-podge of imperfect plans by imperfect people.

Tyrants, sycophants, miscreants, occupants,

masters, slaves, overlords, conscripts,

builders, destroyers, collaborators, rebels,

haves, have-nots, hopeful, hopeless.

This was the society Jesus was born into, because the time was right.

As they had many times before, the people not in control cried out for a saviour. They wanted freedom from the will of Roman conquerors. God sent them a saviour, but not to free them from man-made power ploys gone astray. He sent them Someone who could save them from something much more enslaving – their own sin.

As he had done before, he sent his answer in a form few recognized. He sent his son who set aside his godhood to live as a human. He sent a baby.

I often wonder why he chooses the weak of the world to confound the wise. Why does God frequently skip the well-bred, the educated, the credentialed, and those endowed with position and privilege when he wants to turn the tides of history? More than once people have said, “This can’t possibly be from God!” More than once they have been wrong.

“I see your plight,” he said. “This is my response.”

Then he sent a wanderer and his half-sister wife,

a wheeler dealer opportunist,

an insensitive spoiled brat turned slave turned foreign government official,

a stammering old man with a stick,

a stern mother,

a slave bride with a hammer and tent peg,

a scared unimportant farmer from a long line of scared unimportant farmers,

a lewd, crude, rule-breaking strongman,

a boy raised in a temple with a weak mentor and drunken, corrupt priests as companions,

a shepherd with a slingshot,

a runner given to depression,

a reckless prince with a bad driving record,

a left-handed messenger with a knife up his skirt,

a bizarre performance artist,

a beauty pageant queen who slept her way to influence,

a ploughman,

a child king with clueless teachers,

a eunuch in service to a despot,

a choir director,

a poet.

For the greatest mission of all time he introduced the bearer of his heart as a helpless baby. A baby.  A baby who so terrified the principalities and powers who knew their time would soon be up, that Herod killed every child close to fitting the toddler’s description.

Not even the ancient prophets who each told bits and pieces of the truth they held could see the entirety of God’s plan. Jesus gradually explained it, to those who could listen, over three years. Many heard and believed. Many did not. Before his death and resurrection the book of John tells us the Messiah spoke plainly to the credentialed experts whose education put limits on their understanding.

I tell you the truth; I AM before Abraham was born. (John 8:58 The Voice)

We are subject to change. He is not.

Trust him. He created the plan. Keep your eyes on Abba. Expect the unexpected.

When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. Because you are now part of God’s family, He sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts; and the Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father.” You no longer have to live as a slave because you are a child of God. And since you are His child, God guarantees an inheritance is waiting for you.

(Galatians 4:4-6)

Chopped Liver Days

Photo: Girl raking leaves

I’ve gone through seasons in my life when I felt like I could have danced naked on a table whilst waving a red flag, and no one would have noticed. These were the times when clerks asked the person standing behind me in line if they could help her. I’ve even had people ask if I was at a certain event when I had been one of the performers on stage, then they  go on to tell me about the great song they heard (which I sang.)

In times like this, these times of hiddenness (aka chopped liver days), we see promotions go to less qualified people, we are asked to sign birthday cards for others –on our birthday (but don’t get one ourselves), we sit in meetings while others receive credit  for our ideas and watch family drive past us as we struggle home with bags of groceries.

It’s weird.

I’ve learned in times like these that if I complain to the Lord,  (“What am I? Chopped liver?”) he is likely to say, “Hey you! Eyes here! I am the only one you need to be looking to for approval right now.”

This is a strange verse:

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5,6)

He will lift me high up on a rock and hide me?

Yes, we can be hidden in plain sight sometimes. It can feel like an invisibility cloak (for our good deeds -not for hiding sin!).

Sometimes we are set up high enough to take us out of the way of attacks of accusers and critics. They can see us but they can’t bring us down.

Sometimes we are concealed in tents to protect us from our own egos.

I think these times are about developing virtue, excellence and faithfulness.

Jesus said this in a story he told about money and responsibility: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matthew 25:21)

And also:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10)

In the Psalm that encourages us to forsake fretting when others seem to be getting ahead we read, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3)

In God’s hiring system the best candidates for positions of great responsibility are those who have proven themselves faithful by serving him reliably in seemingly small things without rewards or accolades -sometimes for a very long time.

But when he promotes, he promotes.

The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’

That’s the equivalent of being promoted from a stock boy who tends the shelves well to vice president in charge of marketing. It’s like moving from the position of mother of four on a tight budget to finance minister for the province.

Self-promotion is not nearly as effective as God-promotion.

In his time.