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A Little Think

Are You Expecting?

"When's the baby due?" That's the big question for those expecting. With my fourth child, I was four days overdue and felt like calling the whole thing off. I fretted non-stop. Overdue and overly anxious were the best ways to describe me. A little off, and I get nervous. But try this for overdue and overly anxious: not nine months of waiting in this case, but thousands of years. That's how long predictions of a Messiah coming to earth were made. In the interim, many wannabes came on the scene claiming to be "the One." Meanwhile, generation after generation, God's people suffered wars and famine and persecution. Why was He just taking His time? Disillusioned and disheartened, they waited and hoped for their Messiah, their Savior from the mess they were in.

Old Testament scholars tried to figure out the due date, the month, the year that He would appear. They nearly called the whole thing off; they certainly told God off. It came and went, their disgruntlement, depending on how they were governed. But underneath it all, they waited and watched for thousands of years.

And then, one quiet night, God delivered. He sent a baby boy in a lowly corner of the world called Bethlehem with a heavenly birth announcement: "Hark, the herald angels sing...Glory to the newborn King!" This choir appeared to some scruffy shepherds watching their flocks by night. Recovering from their fright, they believed the angels and went to find the Child. Oh happy day! No more waiting; God kept his promise. And in retrospect, it was predictable. The due date for those expecting was right on time! God's time, that is. In fact, there are over 300 "spot on" predictions in the Bible as to when and where this Child would be born, including whom His relatives would be.

I hope you'll catch historian Paul L. Maier, Ph.D. this Christmas season on Woman to Woman®. He wrote In the Fullness of Time, a trilogy including The First Christmas: The True and Unfamiliar Story. (Learn more at www.paulmaier.com.) He animatedly "unwraps" Christmas, examining traditions and rituals to reveal surprising and compelling details of the Child born on His "due date!"

This Christ Child looked like any other baby, yet we set the calendars of history by His birth. There's no question that He was born; it's a fact documented in history books, even from non-Christian sources. The debate centers on the question, "Who is this Child?" What Jesus are you expecting? The "Baby Jesus" that Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell), the rebel NASCAR driver, insisted on praying to in the movie, Talladega Nights? The beautiful Christmas stamp haloed baby on His mother's lap? Or the Jesus who says, "I have come that you might have an abundant life?" May the wonder and awe of this Christmas season further answer that question for you.

Then there's the other end of Christmas. Does God finish what He starts? The end of a matter is more important than its beginning, they say. You can't judge a man at the day of his birth, only when it comes to an end on the day of his death. So my celebration of Christmas is meaningless without something at the other end. Holly, mistletoe, friends, family, and gifts are just the trimmings!

You don't know the end of something until it's over. Someone said, "Never judge a man great until he's been put in the grave." Oh, by the way, that was predicted too in the Bible...how the Child would grow up to serve and to save the "lost." At 33, He was killed and put in the grave. God promised another due date, three days later, when Jesus rose from the dead. Christmas is just the beginning of God's invitation to experience intimacy with Him through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Easter seals the deal! But that's another story.

Merry Christmas!

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