Settling in for the Wait

By Scott James

Patience has never been my strong suit. More than just a general restlessness, I can usually trace my impatience back to a single, sinful root: frustration over a lack of control. Whatever the situation, if I’m the one calling the shots and setting the pace, then I am the epitome of long-suffering. But put me at the mercy of someone else’s timeline and you’ll see how quickly my foot starts tapping. Obviously, this trait doesn’t serve me well.

My children seem to have inherited this disposition, which is bad news for them because at their age they’re not in control of much. The funny thing is, seeing my impatience reflected in their lives has given me a perspective that I failed to grasp on my own. When my children are at their most impatient, I often see the folly of it because I know something about the situation that they don’t — some piece of information that, if they only knew it, would relieve their frustration. While they’re fretting over what’s for dinner, when they’re going to get to pick the family movie, or what’s wrapped up under the Christmas tree, all I want is for them to trust me. I have a plan, and everything’s going to be OK. When my children are bothered by not being in control, I want them to know that someone who loves them and wants what’s best for them is in control.

Yet, how often do I fail to trust God like that? I see the folly of my children’s impatience so easily, but then I turn around and act as if life would be better if I could step in and work everything out according to my timetable. But helping my children recognize and repent of impatience has helped me understand that true contentment arises out of a deep trust that God loves us, He wants what’s best for us, and — unlike me with my children — He is in perfect control. It does no good to watch for the promises of God and then fret over not being in control of their timing.

Waiting is hard, but God uses it to teach us to depend on Him. When we cry out with Habakkuk, “O Lord, how long?” (Habakkuk 1:2), God patiently reminds us that He acts according to His schedule, not ours. He will keep every one of His promises for our good and His glory. And if we’re prone to impatience along the way, He has a word for us just as He did for Habakkuk: “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3). Give up the illusion of control, trust in God’s timing, and then settle in for the wait. It’ll be worth it.

Scott James is a pediatric doctor and a member of The Church at Brook Hills. He loves helping families grow together in Christ and is the author of several family worship devotionals and children’s books. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and four children.

This article appears in the December 2018 issue of ParentLife.

Hands-On Ideas for Thankful Living

By Dixie Walker

The family feast is coming, and I’m looking forward to it as much as anyone. My normal contribution to the spread each year includes a few pies and a side dish or two. These goodies are a fun part of the annual Thanksgiving festivities, and items that we’re all grateful to have. But, other than wolfing down another slice of pumpkin pie, do you ever stop to count your other blessings, “naming them one-by-one” as the old hymn suggests?

When we think of our blessings broken down in this way, we have so much to be thankful for! But before we become proud in thinking this has anything to do with our own goodness, we need to keep some things in mind: God is the provider of all good things in our lives. In Psalm 121:1-2 we read: “Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

As a reminder, things in life as we know them can disappear so quickly! We must change our mindset to one of thankfulness each day — not just in November. So, after we get this “attitude of gratitude” drilled down into our thinking, how can we enhance and pass on this philosophy to our kids early in their lives?

Through the Senses
Help your child with hands-on projects to show thankfulness for what she has by sharing with others. Use sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell to get a start with these outreach projects.

  • Preschoolers can create a watercolor picture as a Thanksgiving “card” for an elderly neighbor.
  • A simple fall-scented candle would make a great gift for a friend of any age.
  • Record a cheerful message from your child(ren) on your phone and then text it to relatives and friends who live too far away to visit in person.
  • Share your homemade goodies with some international students who are “stuck alone” on campus over the holiday.

Through Relationships
When you hear of friend or family member experiencing a challenging situation, take note of it. Find ways to include your kids in reaching out as a way of showing gratitude for the ability to help during this difficult time.

  • Take some food to a friend or family member who recently lost a job.
  • Buy additional baby items (diapers, bottles, formula, pacifiers) for a young family you know who may be a little tight over the holidays.
  • Provide a “free” night of childcare for someone with young kids, knowing they are typically stretched financially.
  • Invite a single adult from church or work to your home for the holiday mealtime fun if they don’t have a place to go to for the day.

Through the Community & World
Keep yourself updated on needs in your community and (for older kids) the world. When you see a way your family might help, discuss a plan for meeting some of those needs.

  • A project such as Operation Christmas Child® is a great way to enlarge your child’s focus toward people outside his immediate circle of family and friends.
  • Check community boards at local gyms and churches for tangible ways to help in surrounding neighborhoods with service projects, or provision of clothing or food items.

Always remember to verbally express your own thankfulness for God’s goodness when interacting with your family members. Your children especially will enjoy hearing your excitement as you recount God’s blessings in your life.

Dixie Walker has been in childhood ministry with families and teachers for the past 20 years. She and her family reside in the metro Atlanta area.

This article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of ParentLife.

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