It’s past bedtime on a Sunday night. We sit on the couch, me sandwiched between my two precious children. One of them presses two bony knees, hard, into my thighs. I never realized exactly how much a kid’s knees could resemble the ends of tobacco sticks, ready to hammer into the ground of my flesh. The other child puts clammy bare feet onto my legs from the other side.
I have not read one word of the Bible story, and already I want to scream.
I say a quick prayer out loud, and I soldier on. Before I can read five verses, my son has his hand in the air like he’s in his classroom. When I pause and ask what he wants, he says, “Did they have sponges in the Bible time?”
My daughter stops our reading to express surprise and outrage over the story we have read so many times. My son raises his hand again to ask what it means to gamble. At this rate, we will never get through this one single Bible story, much less reach any conclusions about its importance in our lives. My voice has become a monotone, unless the quiet irritation curling around the flat edges is actually noticeable. The flame of my impatience is lighting up this story for me. If we could just read through to the end and get them in bed. If this could just be a tidy, neat experience. Story, prayer, kiss, bed. Then I could crawl onto the couch with my computer or a book and go to bed at a decent hour myself.
But this is when I have to stop, and it’s a full stop that’s needed here. Why on earth am I reading the Bible with my children anyway? Is it to check off a mental list? Okay, taught them something about God–check. Or is it because I actually want them to know who God is, to love him most, to choose him for everything in their lives? Of course it’s the latter, and if that is true, then I need to do two things: first, I need to suck it up and have merciful patience with every single question; and second, I need to show them what relationship with God looks like through relationship with me.
I’m grateful that God convicts me when I need to back up and start over. And I’m grateful that my kids love me enough to give me another chance when I don’t do it right the first time. I don’t want to abuse that trust. Sometimes, that comes through apologizing and starting all over again.
Patience does not come naturally for me, and, sadly, it’s often the people closest to me who understand this best. But God’s word says patience is a fruit of the Spirit. I trust that with time and prayer, he will also develop this fruit in me.
I will trust Him every day, in every situation. I will let him grow patience in me, and faith, and love. I will believe the promises God has given, and I will trust Him with the answers I can’t begin to predict, and I will get to know God more and more, understanding who He is and how fully He loves me. And I will continue to delight in God, who still surprises me with good things.
The patience to walk with God in my ordinary days, trusting Him to show me where to put my feet next, is one of the beautiful gifts He is teaching me to receive. And I am grateful for it.