When sharing with a friend how much I loved ministry, I added, “Well, I took many twists and turns to get there.” When our youngest child entered kindergarten and our oldest started college, I went to work. I handled money as a bank teller and then quit for a job with greater flexibility — stocking shelves as a cosmetic representative. Later, my brother suggested I sell insurance because I love people, which I do! With insurance license in hand, I began cold calling. I met with a lovely older woman five times, but never sealed the deal. In two years, I sold four policies—and one was to my father!
About this time, the pastoral associate from my parish asked if I would prepare for ministry by studying for a Master’s in Theology. My first reaction was, “I’d love to, but I can’t spend money on my education.” She told me of a generous grant, so after prayer, I agreed. And, the very year I began my Master’s, a position came open at my parish; they hired me, and I loved it!
I shook my head, “But so much wasted time.”
My wise friend spoke, “Mary, don’t you believe the Holy Spirit was working through all of those years? All those experiences? That the Spirit was molding you, preparing you, and making a place for you in the waiting?” Looking back, I recognized the Spirit’s movement through the delays, failures, disappointments, and surprises. And I realized God’s timing was perfect!
God’s perfect timing saturates Scripture, especially in Luke’s birth narrative. Elizabeth, barren and well beyond childbearing, waited and wept for years. We can only imagine the heartache of her infertility before the miraculous conception of John the Baptist—at God’s perfect timing. Perfect timing for John, as an adult, to prepare the way of the Lord, to announce salvation at hand, and to baptize Jesus in the Jordan.
The Angel of the Lord appears to Mary, a virgin, who freely consents to God’s invitation to bear our Savior. The Spirit overshadows her at the perfect time. Perfect timing for Mary to travel to the hill country to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. There, Elizabeth, “too old,” affirms Mary, “too young," of the Holy Spirit’s actions in Mary’s life: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:43).
The Annunciation occurred according to God’s perfect timing. Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem for a census at just the right time. There, the stars aligned perfectly, the wise men’s calculations were precise, and God’s timing was impeccable for the birth of our Savior.
Like pinpricks of light, God’s timing shines through each word in Scripture, pointing to Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies.
The Spirit worked through the most unlikely people, under the strangest circumstances, to bring Jesus into the world—at just the right time. God desires to work through each of us to fulfill His mission of bringing Christ into the world. The Spirit will move mountains for us to live according to His word. Some of that timing includes waiting in faith, at other times responding in the moment.
Though unfulfilling, I learned from each job. Thankfully, the Spirit worked in the waiting, leading me to the right position at the perfect time. The Spirit can use anyone or anything to lead us closer to Christ and to His mission. The key is to listen to the Spirit and pray with Mary, “May it be done according to your will.” And then trust that whatever routes we take or however long we wait, God’s timing is perfect for His purposes! With God, all things are possible. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is lost.
Now is the time—the perfect time—to kneel in Adoration of Jesus, the newborn King! Blessed Christmas and a Holy New Year!
First published at Catholicmom.com
Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Pedersen reflects on the Gospel through the lens of parents/grandparents.
You may reach Mary at email@example.com
Image: Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
On Gaudete Sunday, across the country and around the world, Christians will light a rose-colored candle as a symbol of joy. No doubt, this will be a challenging task for many pastors and communities.
Tornadoes, floods, droughts. School shootings, broken families, polarized politics. Increased loneliness, mental illness, drug use, and suicide. How do we speak of joy in the midst of such conflict and grief? Dare we light a rose-colored candle?
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.