At The Appointed Time: Christmas Lessons on Trust

There are a few things my daughter is absolutely obsessed with… Elsa and horses are two of them. So when Disney decided to create the Water Nøkk in Frozen II, my kid lost her entire mind. All she would talk about was “the water horse.” All she wanted was the water horse. When she wasn’t pretending to be Elsa or Everest from Paw Patrol, she was the water horse. There’s been a lot of whinnying and singing Into The Unknown.

Another little fact about Lily: she doesn’t believe in Santa. This wasn’t an attempt on my part to destroy her imagination. She asked if he was real and I said he was a character like Mickey Mouse. She determined herself that this meant he wasn’t real; and has told every adult who asks her if she’s excited about Santa bringing her presents that he’s just a character, reassuring them, however, that reindeer are real. Three year old logic.

But with her lack of belief in Santa and her love for prayer time, she started praying for the things she wanted a few weeks before Christmas. Curled up in her bed, eyes squeezed shut, she thanked God for all the important people in her life and for Jesus and asked, “And please please please let me get a water horse for Christmas please.”

Unbeknownst to her, I had just spent HOURS on Amazon finding the perfect water horse. I was giddy! I wanted to immediately tell her that God totally answers prayers and that the water horse was on its way!

But of course I couldn’t do that. If I had given it to her then, she wouldn’t have had the present to open on Christmas. The gift had to be give at the appointed time.

Earlier this week, I had a meltdown. God is doing many incredible things in my life, but in true Emily fashion, I can’t wait to get to the next step. I sat down with my pastor to ask for a Biblical perspective. And by ask, I mean cry for an entire fifteen minutes in a coffee shop (which is incidentally where I work, so all my coworkers got to see that. Superb!). In my ramblings, I told him about the water horse prayer.

“I was so excited,” I recounted. “I was like, ‘This must be how God feels all the time! I get to bless you with what you’re praying for!’”

My pastor told me to remember that… That God has good gifts, but He bestows them in His own timing. “Don’t push against the goads,” he reminded me.

Watching my daughter open the water horse this morning was incredible. She’s fairly loud, but she squealed even louder than I’ve ever heard her. “I told you!” she kept saying. “I wanted this! Thank you!” The long hoped for present came and she’s currently crashed on her bed, the water horse tucked under her chin as she sleeps. The gift was given to her… at the appointed time.

God has promised His children that He will provide for us. He is a good Father who doesn’t let His children go hungry and delights to give them good gifts. He’s given us this incredible way to Him through prayer. We can talk directly to the Father and ask for what we need and want. And He answers our prayers! Just maybe not in the timing we expect or want. We have to trust that He’s not holding out on us, we have to trust that His timing is not our timing, and we must not give up hoping for the good things even when we don’t have them in our laps. He lavishly blesses us… at the appointed time.

My Lily kept talking about how she was going to get the water horse for Christmas after she prayed. She didn’t have it yet, but she had a hope that because she had asked not only Mommy, but God for the horse, she was going to get it. Maybe we could all use a little more of that childlike faith. I’m not talking about the “name it and claim it” mentality that will only lead to discouragement. I’m talking about sheer faith that God is listening to our prayers. What we need, He will give us. What we want is sometimes a different story. Lily also asked for a cheetah for Christmas… Totally doesn’t need that and would in fact be dangerous.

What if we trusted that God will give us what we need and the good things we want? What if we trusted that, if it’s not being provided right now, it might be provided in His timing? How different would our needy, longing hearts look if we trusted that maybe we don’t get the things we ask for because it would actually be perilous for us? What if we believed wholeheartedly that the God who sent His own Son to be born as a fragile infant, to die a criminal’s death, and to be raised again in victory cares enough about His children that He not only saves our souls, but makes our lives more abundant?

I hope everyone has had a very merry Christmas! Amid the culmination of holiday stress that forces us to search for the perfect gift, let’s give time to pause and think about the Perfect Gift we have already received in the sacrificial death of our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ. Let’s be thankful that, no matter how dire or joyful our circumstances, we always have all that we need.

And in the words of Tiny Tim, God bless us everyone!

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