Yesterday, I lost my PC to a power glitch, and I suddenly felt the weight of all the time I had on my hands. I was a desk jockey unplugged, riding solo. All I could do was hold down my chair and wait. What use is time when it’s all you have, when it isn’t just a measure of your activity or a demarcation of an experience?
I don’t think the Lord has the same concept of time I do. Just look at the incarnation. Christ Jesus did not appear to us like Melchizedek in Genesis, an established priest and king of the city of peace. He didn’t walk out of the desert and begin casting out demons like a fabled dragon slayer. He came to us as an infant. He spent years growing into adulthood, asking questions of his parents, learning his father’s trade skills, and studying at the synagogue.
He spent about several years growing up and occasionally asking provocative questions (Luke 2:46–52). Our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace would grow in wisdom, stature, “and in favor with God and man.” Even after he had begun calling disciples, he said his hour had not yet come to step forward as a miracle worker (John 2). He was willing to wait a little longer.
Wait for what?
One reason was that he was practicing humility. “Though he was in the form of God, [Christ Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6–7 ESV). For thirty years, he lived as a little man from Nazareth, perhaps a great blessing to his community, but not someone who would attract any attention. That was not what he deserved, but it is what he desired. He put aside his royal privileges to be a pauper with us for a while.
Another reason was to live as fully human. His spirit did not descend on a man for the time of his ministry and ascend back to heaven while on the cross, as the heretics say. He was God Himself as a common man. His hands bore the muscles and scars of carpentry work. His face burned when he’d had too much sun. That a man would crush the serpent’s head was the plan from the beginning.
But did our Lord chafe during these pre-ministry years? Did he long to get started preaching the kingdom? No. He appears to have appreciated this time in full. He still held a heavenly mindset which sees a thousand years “as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4 ESV). Perhaps in his early years, he was satisfied with the Father’s love, as he would have us to be. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14 ESV). As Spurgeon said, “The only satisfying food for the Lord's people is the favor of God,” so for those times when we have nothing else to do, when we feel as if we are waiting for the Lord to employ us and make good use of our time, God calls us to dwell on and find satisfaction in his steadfast love.
Satisfaction needs time to steep. It isn’t an instant mix. Granted, Jesus was born completely satisfied in God’s abiding love, but as he did with so many things in his life on earth, he showed us the way to live during the quiet years. When we feel our calling isn’t working out or that our life is on hold, Jesus encourages us to rejoice in his love today.