The October 17, 1938 issue of Time magazine tells the story of Joseph Figlock, a Detroit street sweeper who quite accidentally saved the lives of two children because he was in the right place at the right time. Mr. Figlock was cleaning out an ally way when he was knocked unconscious by a baby girl who had fallen from an open window on the fourth floor. The little girl was injured, though not seriously. She would have certainly been killed were it not for the timing of Figlock’s ally cleaning. Figlock suffered a fractured skull and other broken bones and was out of work for a time, but recovered and resumed his duties as a street sweeper. While cleaning another ally Joseph Figlock was again knocked unconscious, this time by a baby boy falling from an open fourth story window. The timing of Figlock’s ally cleaning saved yet another life.
It’s all in the timing. This is true for everything in life. The car accident that was avoided by mere seconds; the great deal on a home purchase because of being in the right place at just the right time. Two people from half a world away have a chance meeting at an event, fall in love and marry.
Time is an indispensable part of the world God created. In whatever way one understands the creative events of Genesis 1, what is clearly communicated in the passage is that God created the world, not instantaneously, but over a period of time. Time is as indispensable as space, as matter, and as actions in the world in which we live. So the sage tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). And there is a wisdom to it all. We see with wonder the wisdom in some of it (see the story of Joseph Figlock), but not all of it makes sense to us. Yet the sage assures us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Eccl 3:11)
The Christmas story is a story about time as much as it about events.
“When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal 4:4-5).
It’s not as though the Christ event could have happened at any time, and just happened to take place when Israel was under the dominion of Rome and Caesar Augustus was on the throne, when Herod ruled Jerusalem, and the Parthians could not be subjugated by Rome. The event was bound up in and with the timing of it. And when the time was fulfilled, God sent his Son. It was the message that Jesus himself preached: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel" (Mar 1:15).
Jesus came to preach, but not only to preach. He came to do something that we couldn’t do for ourselves. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:1). Christ came to bring us the message of his salvation. He came to die in our place to reconcile us to God. Note that this could not have happened at any old time. It happened “at just the right time.”
Timing is everything. And there is a time for everything, and a season for every event under heaven. Jesus came at just the right time. Joseph Figlock was in not one, but two allies at just the right time. Being there cost him something (fractured bones in both instances!), but the timing of it saved two little lives. I’d say that was worth the injuries, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t Joseph Figlock?
Christmas time is a busy season, but I’d like to ask you to keep your eyes open this year for divine appointments. There are people out there who don’t know the good news that Jesus came at just the right time. They don’t know that they can be reconciled to God through what he did. And you may be the means of telling them, of breaking their death-fall. It may cost you to do so. It may injure your plans, but wouldn’t it be worth it? You’ll need to make time for them. And in the end, that’s what it’s about: time.