The Cadence of Providence

Imagine an elderly Jewish man tucking his grandchildren in bed nearly two thousand years. His son is imprisoned for the allegation that he didn’t pay all of his taxes to the Roman government. He encourages his grandchildren with the promises of God telling them that everything will be okay before he gives them a final hug.

“The promises of God . . .” he whispers out loud, as he slips out of the tent and sits by what’s left of the fire from where they cooked their dinner earlier. His profile is silhouetted against the red hues of the remaining sunlight smeared across the western sky over the city of Jerusalem.

He wonders if he even believes in the promises any more. It’s been centuries of darkness. When will light shine again?

He repeats the promises of God with an anxious heart, a doubt-plagued mind, and trembling hands. His faith can seem like its hanging by a thread at times, so fragile and vulnerable. But yet he hangs on, as best as he can, as if life itself depends upon it.

But on this particular night something is different on the horizon. To the south, there is a singular star shining so brightly that it drowns out the light from all the surrounding stars. And it is sitting peculiarly over the little town of Bethlehem. It was a sign that things were about to change forever.

I think about this hypothetical scene when I read the Apostle Paul’s words in Galatians, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4). The idea is that time was full. It was pregnant with anticipation. And it was about to burst.

It’s like when you order a coffee at Starbucks and the barista fills it to the brim before handing it to you. They conceal how full it is by hiding it with a lid. They hand it out the window to you with a deceptive smile. And the moment you take hold of it, the second you put any pressure on it, it immediately begins running down the sides of the cup. Steam rolls of your fingers as you search for a napkin. You can hear them laughing as you pull away.

Maybe that’s a bit of a sinister take on commercial coffee joints. But I think it illustrates the idea that Paul is conveying. Time couldn’t take any more. It was completely full. One more drop and it overflow. That’s when God sent his son.

When things seemed so bleak that they couldn’t get worse, in the fullness of time, God intervened. That seems to be God’s way. He’s never early. He’s never late. He’s always right on time.

History marches to the cadence of Providence and for the purpose of glory. History dances to the tune of divinity. It flows with the stream of sovereignty.

Like the example of the Jewish man on the eve of the first century, here we are two thousand years after the birth of Jesus. It can be easy for us to repeat the promises of God from an anxious heart, a doubt-plagued mind, and with trembling hands.

But take heart: in the fullness of time the Father sent the Son. And in the fullness of time, he will send him again.

Joy to the world, the Savior has come.

Joy to the world, he will come again.