“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”Ephesians 1:7-10
When I was a young boy, my family would spend about every third Sunday afternoon driving to a nearby town to visit some of our older relatives. While the drive was only a bit more than an hour, to a young boy of seven, time in the car seemed to drag on in slow motion.
The farm fields flashing past on the way held then familiar land marks: the crooked oak tree on US Route 150 that bent into the west wind was the signal that coming in the next 10 minutes was the rusting Ford Ferguson tractor left in an overgrown pasture, weeds growing into its now silent engine. Next would come the peeling seed-corn ads on the sun-worn side of a barn shouting the merits of Funk’s G Hybrid (“It’s golden!”)
My three older brothers rode in the back seat of my parent’s black Pontiac Bonneville, and I sat up front between my parents.
Time, it seemed, felt agonizingly. . . endless.
After finding the end of my patience too soon, I remember leaning my head against my dad in despair and asking a well-worn question:
“Dad . . . how much longer?”
Driving with one hand, he’d pat my leg with the other and reply,
“Almost there, son . . . not much longer now.”
Sound familiar? What goes through your mind as you wait?
In the Bible, there are many examples of waiting…some only days long.
Moses was called up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the law from God. God answered him six days after he reached the summit. (Exodus 24)
Once, when Jeremiah the prophet sought God’s direction, the scripture record tells us he waited 10 days for God’s answer. (Jeremiah 42)
But for others, . . . years and years of waiting:
- Jacob waited seven years to marry Laban’s beautiful daughter, Rachel (and then seven more years after he’d been tricked into marrying her “weak-eyed” sister first!). (Genesis 28-29)
- After helping and seeing the king’s cup-bearer released from prison, Joseph waited two more years in prison to be remembered and established in Pharaoh’s office. (Genesis 40)
- Moses lived on the back side of the desert for 40 years before God called to him. (Acts 7)
- Israel wandered for 40 years before being allowed into the promised land. (Joshua 5)
- Simeon lived a long lifetime, waiting to see Jesus, “the consolation of Israel.” (Luke 2)
Centuries upon centuries have come and gone since these famous people lived with God and waited for Him. The lifestyles are different. The names are different. The customs are different. But like them we, too, find ourselves waiting.
- Waiting for Him to make a way for us, where there is no way seen.
- Waiting for the diagnosis.
- Waiting for the phone call or forgiveness from an estranged family member.
- Waiting for the morning’s light to end a night made sleepless with care.
- Waiting for the job offer.
- Waiting for a life partner to appear on the scene.
- Waiting for our children to grow up and then waiting to see them home again.
- Waiting for God to answer our tearful prayers through the dense mist of fear and unknown.
Why? Why all of this . . . waiting?
In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul draws this idea into focus for us with four, truth-packed words . . . “the fullness of time.”
As I’m learning to wait, I am finding the idea of the “fullness of time” to be the wisdom of God’s perspective manifest in our daily circumstances. Its the expression of God’s sovereignty upon the timeline of humanity, His fingerprint on the pace and rhythm of our individual lives as the Architect of our days.
It’s our answer to, “When?”
Can we accept this? Can we accept that in the fullness of time, God’s perfect plans for us and those we love unfold?
It was in the fullness of time God’s great plan for mankind unfolded in the silent and powerful arrival of His Son, Jesus, on Earth.
It was in the fullness of time, He walked among us and we saw His glory.
It was in the fullness of time, redemption broke brilliantly like the sun over a distant mountain to heal us completely and forever from our sin.
It was in the fullness of time He made a way for us, in Him, “to live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
In my waiting, I’m learning God’s always on time, never late. We can trust Him and His timing. He’s unhurriedly at work, unfolding His Kingdom and our role within it.
He’s always providing for us, making a way where there is no way.
His love is His motivation, and His eternal character is our promise: He is the Good Shepherd. We are greatly taken care of.
And all of it in the fullness of time.
Though those Sunday trips in the car with my family are now 50 years past, from time to time, I find myself impatient with worry or fatigued with waiting.
I am learning in these days to lean into my Heavenly Father and to trust His character as I ask,
“Dad. . . how much longer?”
“Almost there, son. . . not much longer now.”
“Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: ‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.'”Isaiah 43:16-19