When I shared the Christmas story with my Sunday school class this past Sunday, I didn’t start with a baby in a manger, I started back in Genesis when God created the universe. I wanted my students to realize the powerful implication of the Christmas story: that the maker of the entire universe, the all-powerful God, bigger than any of us, came to be a human being.
As I shared the story of creation, I realized something: the world waited thousands of years for God to keep His promise by the time Jesus came. You see, when Adam and Eve sinned, and sinned entered both the world and our very hearts, God made a promise: to come back and make things right.
Fast forward. In the little town of Bethlehem, God finally came as a baby human. The foretold promise. But who knew? Who was watching? When it finally happened, hardly anyone showed up. Angels told shepherds about it. And of course Mary and Joseph knew. And Simon and Anna from the temple. And maybe a couple relatives (Elizabeth knew). And some magi from the Far East started heading that direction.
But where were all the people who had been waiting for God’s promise? Did they think it wouldn’t happen in their lifetime? Had they forgotten? Or perhaps they couldn’t imagine it would happen the way it did: God born to a poor couple in a barn, not to a kind and queen in a palace.
God always keeps His promise, no matter how long it takes. The Christmas story teaches us that. But it doesn’t always happen when we think it will, or where, or even how. That is one thing I’ve definitely learned this year, that God’s ways are not my ways. And the way He goes about keeping His promises are usually not how I would have done it.
How about you? How has God kept His promise to you? Did He surprise you by how He did it?