My nativity set has a new home this year. And I think it might have turned out to be the best place yet – for a reason I might never have thought of.

I usually put my nativity set on a shelf of a hutch in my dining room. It wouldn’t have worked there this year since I put up a faux brick wall and the hutch doesn’t have a back to it and I don’t think Mary and Joseph stayed in a stable with faux brick walls. It would have looked cool, but there would have been something a little questionable about the backdrop.

And then I’ve been having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Maybe it’s because retailers were jamming it down our throats for weeks before Thanksgiving. Or maybe it’s the Florida thing. Hard to get in the spirit of the season when it’s unseasonably warm outside.

But yesterday, I put on the Christmas music and I unpacked those boxes with the nativity set in a defiant act of “I WILL have Christmas joy!”. I love my nativity figurines – simple, plain carvings. Uncluttered. Deserving of a simple, uncluttered place to display them. Then I noticed the upright chest of drawers I have by my front door. Perfect. I moved a candle and a framed picture and there it was. The perfect place to let Mary and Joseph and the baby and the stable animals remind me of what Christmas is really all about.

And then it became much more than that.

Two feet above the chest is a clock. And the minute I set up those figurines, it hit me. That little scene in the stable happened at – just the right time. Looking at the manger scene with a big clock hanging over it where a star should be almost made my chin drop. It was like God was reminding me about a part of the Christmas story I know about, but hadn’t really pondered in a long while.

That moment – the couple and the shepherds and the stars and no room at the inn and the politics and the birth of a baby – all happened at just the right time. God’s time. Not earlier, not later. Just a stroke of some heavenly clock and it all unfolded.

I’m going to be sad when I have to pack away that nativity set after the holidays. But for now, and for every day until then, I’m going to let the manger scene and the simple carved pieces and the clock hanging overhead remind me that God always has a plan, and His timing is always just right.

My times are in Your hand; Psalm 31:15

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Luke 2:6

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