Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Tis the season for waiting. I enjoyed Keith Simon’s sermon from a few weeks ago describing our tendency during this time of year to ignore celebrating advent. I know our family is certainly guilty of getting lost in the hours of preparation, decorating, shopping, etc. that inevitably happens the month before Christmas.

I specifically remember as a kid making those red and green paper chains with 25 loops ready to count down the days before Christmas. Oh how long December seemed to carry on! I’m sure you have similar memories. As a father, I am always thinking and praying about making the most of daily opportunities to mold and shape the character of my kids. I really can’t think of a better gift than teaching my kids the benefits of delayed gratification.

I am providing my kids an incredible tool if I can effectively transfer an understanding of the discipline of delayed gratification. Not only will it develop maturity, but when the Christian life is broken down to the nuts and bolts, it really is all about trading the benefits of our present world for those in the world to come. It is about waiting for something better.

The most unhappy people I know are those who are unwilling to say no to themselves. I would even go as far to say that those who will not wait for what is better are essentially incapable of understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. In “Surprised by Joy” C.S. Lewis captures the character of a mature Christian when he describes the following; “All Joy…emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.” Lewis is touching on many levels of truth in that very short statement. Primarily he is reminding us that true joy on this earth isn’t satisfied in “having” something. Instead the longing and desire for something better than what is available in this life gives us a very distant view of what joy lies ahead of us in eternity.

So, the practical question is this; how do I transfer an appreciation for waiting on eternity to an 11 year old? I asked my oldest son for his Christmas wish list about 2 weeks ago. I still haven’t received it. I think the reason lies somewhere between forgetfulness and knowing there really isn’t a Santa Claus. I wish it was because he knew that whatever he thinks he needs more than anything in the world really won’t make him happy…yeah right. So, here is what I’ve told him. I will take your very delinquent wish list only if you can tell me what you received last year for Christmas. He struggled to come up with even a few items.

I reminded him how much he just had to have those things last year and how now he simply can’t remember what they were. Meanwhile, weeks before he even began thinking about Christmas, the advent season was calling to him to wait on the only gift that really satisfies. Now, I know I’m reaching in thinking any of that got past the middle ear. However, I know that he will relearn that lesson over and over for the rest of his life. I know full well that I’ve had to.

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