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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Waiting for the Green Light

My youngest son has a Mirari OK to Wake! Alarm Clock & Night-Light* he adorably refers to as his night clock. The clock turns green when he is allowed to come out of his room in the mornings, and, before it is time, the light on the clock remains yellow. We made this purchase at the suggestion of a friend after weeks of him waking at 5:45 AM. We’ve mostly trained him to remain in his room until the light turns green and waiting on the green light has become a norm for him.

I can identify with his waiting and watching. Waiting on the green light has become a norm for me and my family as well.

I feel like we’ve been in the yellow-light stage for quite some time on many fronts. Certainly our adoption, in addition to the hopes of purchasing a different home, and the list goes on.

Maybe you’ve felt that too? Perhaps it is a long wait on an adoption, a career change, another child, a new house, relocating, treatment options for an illness, a spouse, or waiting on a loved one to make needed changes. For our family, sitting in a cautionary posture has been our normal for over two and a half years.

I like to tease we are perfecting the art of waiting. I also like to imagine we’ve improved. In fact, most days, I am assured we are perfecting waiting. Because in waiting, real life is lived and our memories are being made. Life doesn’t wait on green lights like we do.

Even this week, another yellow light situation popped up unexpectedly. My husband and I decided that the children’s book we were set to self publish, should be postponed, and a Kickstarter account started, due to the exorbitant costs of printing. The book, a children’s picture book about our youngest son’s adoption, will be available for a free download as a PDF later this month (insert elation here!), but we also hoped to have physical copies to sell. Real books lend themselves to better retention, multiple readings, and little hands to explore them frequently on their own. I’ll let you know more about the Kickstarter in the next few weeks, but for now, suffice it to say, this has provided one more area in our lives where we are waiting on the green light.

In the midst of all of the waiting our family has done, most recently in the last two and a half years, we have seen the benefits of unanswered prayer, or, rather, long-awaited answers. It should come as no surprise that the virtues are endurance, character, and hope.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. ~Romans 5:3-5, NLT

Waiting births endurance, character, and hope, and binds us to Christ in that we love Him more not for what He can offer us, nor less for what He hasn’t provided, but purer for who He is.

So you and I, like my youngest son, may awake daily postured for the appearance of the green light, and we can also learn to love Christ more purely as we wait on Him.

What else has a season of waiting taught you? I’d love to hear about it.

 

 

*Amazon affiliate link.

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Walking By Faith: Responding to the No and the Yes of Jesus

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Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:18,21, ESV)

A few weeks ago, I was strolling alongside a newly-walking one-year-old. He had tired of simply watching the gymnastics lesson and wanted to try out some moves of his own. Instead of letting him onto the gym floor with my kids in class as he first attempted, I took him outside to walk on the sidewalk. I wanted to hold his hand to protect him from falling and getting yet another bump on his face. He’s gained the nickname “Bruiser” because of all his recent spills.

Needless to say, newly walking one-year-olds think they have the whole walking bit down. He didn’t want to hold my hand this time. He hadn’t asked for assistance, but rather, he had a taste for freedom.

As I grasped his hand and wouldn’t let go, I considered that all he was hearing was, no, no. 

No, don’t pull away from me.

Continue reading at iBelieve.

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