But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.

(Galatians 4:4, NASB)


The fall of 1988 was the most challenging period of my life. My wife, Cheryl, and I moved from Oklahoma City to Dallas to attend DTS. I was thrilled to study God’s Word, and we were expecting our first child.

Everything was going great until early November. Twenty-five weeks into the pregnancy Cheryl’s water broke, and we frantically rushed her to the hospital. Baylor Medical Center was her home for the next four weeks as she was bedfast until our son Justin was born eleven weeks early on December 12, 1988. In addition to his premature birth, he had a cleft lip and cleft palate. I’ll never forget my thought when I saw him for the first time. “He is so tiny and frail—but he is my son!” I spoke the words “my son” for the first time.

Justin lived in the neonatal care unit for six weeks, and so did my wife. She rarely left his side. Early on we learned to dread those daily progress reports that were mostly discouraging. And not having him home with us was agonizing. Cheryl and I celebrated Christmas Day 1988 with Justin in his temporary home. It was my worst and best Christmas. It was the worst for obvious reasons, but it was the best because God used it all to teach me many things I could not learn in the seminary classroom.

One simple lesson I learned is that God’s timing is often not our timing, but His timing is always perfect. Our son was not born when we expected or desired, but he was born right on time. Likewise, on that first Christmas, God’s Son was born right on time—“when the right time came”—in God’s perfect time (Galatians 4:4). Christmas is a reminder that God’s timing is perfect. You may be facing some circumstance right now that seems ill-timed. May God help you and me this season, and always, to remember that while His timing does not always coincide with ours, His timing is perfect.