We were sitting at a stoplight on the way to my older daughter's soccer game the other day when my oldest daughter said, "Is this light ever going to change? We've been waiting for 10 minutes." Having arrived at the light just as it was turning red, we had to wait for the lights to run all the way through their cycle. We'd been sitting at the light about a minute. It just seemed longer.
I don't know anyone who likes to wait. We're a society of movers. No one likes just sitting still. It doesn't matter what we're waiting for -- a vacation, the return of someone we love or payday -- we always want it to come sooner than it does.
And while we're waiting, it's sometimes really easy to lose sight of the value of what we're waiting for. It's always easier to focus on what's right in front of us than it is to see the value in what seems so far away.
My youngest daughter got some money for her birthday last month. We promised to take her to the hockey store in St. Louis when we go on vacation this summer because we don't have hockey stores here. It's been really hard for her not to spend that money now and wait for our trip.
Whenever we go to the store, she sees things she would like to buy. We have to keep reminding her that she's saving that money to spend at the hockey store. When we go to the store, she loses her focus on saving for the hockey store and is ready to sacrifice the long-term gain for short-term fulfillment. She needs help to keep her eyes focused on the better thing to come.
Sometimes God asks us to wait, and it's never easy when He does. The hardest moments in my life were waiting for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with my youngest daughter when she was born. We waited five days for answers, and every minute seemed to tick by incredibly slowly.
Yet, it is in those moments of waiting that we can find ourselves drawing nearer to God. Psalm 27:14 says "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." When we are forced to wait, it gives us time to reflect and time to lean on God for our strength. Waiting can sap your strength if you let it. It can drive you crazy with worry.
Yet God is there in the waiting. He's ready to lift you up and fill you with strength if you let Him. He's simply waiting for us to turn to Him and spend our time waiting covered in His love and grace.
And there are things to be learned in the waiting. We learn patience. We learn to give grace to others who are waiting. We learn to keep our eyes focused on something that may not be just around the corner. We learn to rely on God.
When your kids have to wait for something important, come alongside them and help them keep their eyes focused on what is important. Be their accountability person -- the one who helps them survive the waiting by helping them make good decisions in the waiting time.
- Create a calendar for your child that helps them count down the days to whatever they are waiting for. Put a scripture to read together on each day of the calendar that deals with waiting or staying focused. This gives them a tangible reminder of the days ticking by and an encouragement to lean on God's strength every day.
- When your child loses focus on the thing for which he is waiting, help him bring his attention back to that thing. Post a picture on the wall if it's something tangible. Talk about the benefits of the thing you're waiting for.
- When the waiting seems interminable, pray with your child. Ask God to help your child rely on His strength to make it through the waiting period.
Waiting is rarely fun or easy, but those waiting times can draw us closer to God and teach us patience. And those are lessons worth learning.