Standing At the Gate

Last year my family took our first trip to Bush Gardens, a local theme park full of fabulous rides and amazing animals. We met up with some friends and our children quickly ran off to ride a few of the roller coasters. After several turns on Cobra’s Curse, a few of us wanted to try out Cheetah Hunt. Cheetah Hunt is known for its speed and length.

As several of the kids, and two of us parents, raced to the entrance, the park worker stopped my oldest son and measured him.

You have to be forty-eight inches to ride this particular roller coaster. Our son was only forty-six inches. His heart fell as did his dreams, and the empathetic feelings of this mama bear soared. We encouraged him that when he grew the required height we would be back to tackle the coaster.

Imagine his excitement as month after month he longed to grow those two additional inches to return and ride Cheetah Chase. Now, fast forward one year. Not only has our son grown three inches, we additionally purchased annual passes to Bush Gardens as our children’s Christmas presents.

Last week we took our first trip to enjoy our annual passes. The weather was a beautiful, crisp fifty-five degrees. While wonderfully unexpected cold weather for southern Florida, it was apparently not the ideal conditions for theme park rides as our two favorites were shut down for most of the day.

As we were about to exit the park without having rode a single coaster, we heard Cheetah Chase running and my two oldest kids and I ran to claim our place in line.

We patiently and expectantly waited our turn. Soon enough, we were the next to board, standing at the gate moments away from his and my first time on the ride when suddenly we hear, Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you we are experiencing technical difficulties and Cheetah Chase will be closed at this time. We have no way of knowing how long a delay this will be. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Disappointment and sadness momentarily came over my son. We had to get back to my husband who was watching the two younger children, one of which most certainly needed a diaper change by now. I couldn’t wait an unknown time to be the first in line on a ride that had shut down multiple times that day. I didn’t think that would be wise of me as a mother. Let some other people be the first to try it I explained to my children after begrudgingly waiting five minutes for the problem to be fixed. All the while we waited watching a coaster full of people stuck a few feet away on the track.

As we were leaving the park, and a few times after that, I told my son how I was sorry we couldn’t ride Cheetah Chase, or even Cobra’s Curse, that day. But I was certain God was growing character in him, even as he had grown him already in height, and for that I was grateful. I explained to him that in the waiting he was developing character and patience. Delayed gratification is a good thing after all.

We as parents often pray for our children that they would grow like Christ, in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52) However, when it comes to the means that God may allow for that growth, we instead ask Him, please make a way for my child, please let this cup pass, please allow this process to speed along, please let him or her make the team Lord, please give them… xyz.

We ask for growth in wisdom and stature and we need to lean in and trust God’s processes even when it hurts. Moreover, we, you and I, emphasis on I, must learn to thank Him for those times. That’s hard! As fleshly parents we want the easy way for our kids. But the Bible tells us that God’s way is the straight and narrow road, even as His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and few find this way.  (See Matthew 11:30 and Matthew 7:13)

You see, my son has lamented his size in comparison to his peers only a few times. I’ve prayed and sympathized over it multiple times hoping he wouldn’t be burdened with comparison! He accepts who he is and leans into the gifts of determination, tenacity, grit, and encouragement that God has given him. Even if he doesn’t consciously recognize this at his young age. His size is something God is using to conform him to the image of Christ.

What about you? What are you standing at the gate of, next in line and awaiting your turn? What seems like you are forever waiting on? Now ask yourself, what lessons am I learning in this waiting? How have I changed as a person because of the delays in my life? So that, when your turn comes, when my turn comes, we will walk through the gate a changed person from the one that first approached it.

Standing at the gate with you,

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