The Lang Gang’s 2017 Christmas Letter
“when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,
born of a woman … so that we might receive adoption”
Dear Family and Friends,
On our kitchen counter, we have a little decorative chalkboard on which to write the number of days left until Christmas. Each day, Jo Jo (8) writes a new number on the board and then delights to remind us that Christmas is now one day closer. When I was his age, I remember wondering if Christmas would ever arrive. For children, who see only the promise of presents under the tree, time just seems to drag on interminably in the days leading up to Christmas. Parents, meanwhile, have a different perspective on time: each day that passes is one less day to buy presents, decorate the house, plan get-togethers, and otherwise try to have the “perfect” Christmas. For us, time seems to fly by in a mad rush toward “C-Day.”
It’s funny how our perception of time is affected by our perspective. When we’re waiting in hope for something good to happen, time seems to slow down. Later, we look back and realize how short the time of waiting actually was.
When I was a young man fresh out of college, it seemed as if it would be forever before I could find a dream job or meet and marry the girl of my dreams. Now that David (22), Caleb (21), and Bethany (19) have all graduated from college, they are each taking their first tentative steps in pursuit of their own dreams. At times I see in them the same impatience to get started that I used to feel, and I know they’re wondering as I did, “Will I really ever be able to get there from here?” Looking back now, I’m amazed at how quickly I managed to find both my dream job and my dream girl. From my current vantage point, I can see clearly how God was directing my steps the whole time, and I can casually minimize that period of waiting and uncertainty as “a few short years.”
Of course, at the time, a “few” years of waiting seemed anything but “short.” Likewise, it is little comfort to my kids when I tell them they have “plenty of time” in which to see their dreams come true.
Ironically, while our adult children cannot fully appreciate my perspective on their current stage of life, they are already looking back at the challenges of college from a completely different vantage point. Right now their younger sister Alexa (16) is busy filling out college applications, taking entrance exams like the ACT, and scheduling auditions in the hope of becoming a violin performance major. These hurdles all seem capable of determining her entire future, so she is naturally anxious about getting over each one. Her older siblings just shake their heads knowingly and say, “Of course you’ll be accepted. Of course you’ll pass the test. Of course you’ll nail the audition.” Already they seem to have forgotten the fear and trepidation they themselves experienced just a “few short years” ago.
Galatians 4:4 tells us that “God sent forth His Son” when “the fullness of time had come.” In other words, Christ was born at the perfect time—not a moment late, nor a moment too soon. The events which marked His birth were set in motion centuries, even millennia, prior to the first Christmas. Seven centuries earlier the prophets Isaiah and Micah prophesied his virgin birth in the town of Bethlehem. Many millennia before that the “star of Bethlehem” was appointed to appear at exactly the right time. God’s timing encompasses a mind-boggling array of actions and events, and there’s no way to hurry it along or argue with it. Yet when the “fullness of time” finally arrives, God’s orchestrating hand is clearly evident.
Before we met, Lisa and I each broke off a previous engagement. By the end of those relationships, we each felt that we were pressing to make something work that just wasn’t right. Neither of us was eager to start all over again or face a period of loneliness, but we each traded the security of a less-than-ideal relationship for the hope of something better. And then we waited. At times, we felt lonely. But in the “fullness of time,” God brought us together, and we thank Him every day that He made us wait for His best.
This Christmas, whatever your hopes, your dreams, and your secret longings, we pray that you will look to the Savior who came in the “fullness of time.” He came not merely to deliver His people from political bondage and exile, but to deliver all people from bondage to sin and the resulting exile from God’s presence. He accomplishes this reconciliation through adoption, so that by faith in the Son of God we ourselves become God’s children.
Consider for a moment what it means to be a child of God. At Christmas, we go to great lengths to ensure that our children receive the gifts they most hope for. If we, fallible and imperfect as we are, “know how to give good gifts to [our] children, how much more will [our] Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11). Yet we also make our children wait until the “fullness of time” to receive those gifts, even when it means seeming deaf to their pleas for an “early Christmas.” In the same way, our Father in heaven is eager to give us every good thing, but only when it is truly good and only at the perfect time, a time when we are truly ready to receive it. Until then, He makes us wait until the “fullness of time.” After all, it is the Christmas presents we unwrap early which are most quickly forgotten, and the ones we had to wait for which are most deeply cherished.
So whatever you’re waiting for this Christmas, look to the Father who loves you, and trust that He will act in the “fullness of time.” Merry Christmas and God bless.
The Lang Gang
David, Lisa, David, Caleb, Bethany, Alexa, and Josiah