When The Time Is Right

December 8, 2019
by John Carr   - Listen to this devotional

Galatians 4:4a – But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. (CEV)

It was a bitterly cold Christmas Day morning 50 years ago. The plan was to load up our re-purposed delivery (camper) van with our two little ones and all the gear they required, along with Christmas gifts, and head out on the three-hour drive to my parents' home to have a late breakfast with them and spend a few days of family time together.

I went out to start the van about fifteen minutes before our 6 a.m. planned departure time so that it could warm up for us. I turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. I tried again. And again. Nothing. The battery was dead.

What to do? We had another vehicle, but it was too small for everything we were taking, was not gassed up, and had a heater that produced very little heat. I was able to manoeuvre the car close enough to the van that my jumper cables just reached. Alas! In my anxiety, I hooked things up incorrectly and the dead battery was now a "cooked" battery.

What to do? When I had gassed up the van the day before, I'd had a pleasant visit with the local gas station owner. I knew him well because he not only looked after our vehicles, but also was very active in the parents' group that supported Scouting in our suburban community. The church in which I ministered was the sponsor and host of the Cub, Scout, and Venturer groups, and I was their chaplain. So, I knew what his plan was for Christmas Day morning, and he knew our plan. I also knew where he lived — just a few doors down the street from our church building. So, I drove over to his house (yes, he was already up and I knew that he would be), knocked on his door, and explained my predicament to him.

His response was instinctive and immediate. He would go right away to the service station and connect the quick charger to the appropriate battery. Then, back at home, he would be with his family for their gift opening and some breakfast. By that time, the battery would be operational, and he would bring it to our house and install it. This he did. Two-plus hours late, but assured of a reliable vehicle, we were on our way to my parents' home, arriving in time for brunch.

I share this story because it seems to me that it illustrates a couple of themes that are inherent in the story of Jesus' birth.

The first theme is the obvious one. This man offered our family a gift of extreme hospitality. I knew to the core of my being how Joseph and Mary must have felt when they finally found a place in Bethlehem where they could rest and where their baby could be born.

The subtler theme, it seems to me, is connected with the core meaning of Jesus' birth. In God's own way and in God's good time, God reaches out to us in love. That has the potential to create community in which people are enabled to reach out with care and love to their neighbours and to the wider world. When someone "knocks on your door", are you ready to respond with love and care? That's getting into the Christmas spirit.

Prayer: Loving God, we marvel that You reach out to us with love and care. We commit to doing our best to relate to other people in the way that You relate to us. Amen.

About the author:

John Carr <pthyanded@shaw.ca>
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the inspiring story, John.


    Good comparisons. Thanks for writing.


    Beautiful Christmas story. Thank you and blessings, John!


    Thanks for a good word this morning John.
    Blessings.


    Thanks, John, for sharing your story and encouraging us to show Christ’s love.


    Message received, John. Grateful for your sharing this inspiring experience today. Helps me.


    Good morning John! God’s love and caring has been shown to me through many thoughtful ways people have supported us during this difficult time.
    Thinking of you and yours.


    Hello John,
    Thank you for writing this devotional. Reaching out to others with love and care is a great teaching of our loving God and our world would be so much better if more people would follow His example.
    Blessings to you and your family as you celebrate the birth of Christ.
    (B.C.)


    Hi John, in this dark time of year, it was really good to read your devotional full of promise and compassion.
    I often feel discouraged at the goings on in the world in general, but after reading your devotional, realize that compassion and caring starts at the grass roots level and can spread.
    Thanks.


    Dear John, Thank you for sharing your inspiring devotional of something that happened so long ago in your life. My dad was just like that friend of yours. Always there for anyone who needed help and my mom was always awed by how strangers knew to knock on our door. Of course, they maybe knocked on many doors before they came across my dad. He could fix almost anything and always willing to try. I am not as handy as he was, but I do try to help others out. You brought back great memories for me. Thank you and may many more blessings come your way.


    Thank you for giving us a devotional with examples of what people can do to help one another.
    May God bless you this Christmas and all year round (and every year) with sharing helpfulness.


    This really hit the spot!
    Good to see a new writer too!
    God bless you and your family, which probably includes some grandchildren now
    (BC)


    Thanks for sharing this encouraging devotional with us. Blessings.

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