Imagine with me, if you will, that one time each week which is perennially difficult for you. Perhaps it’s that regularly occurring meeting at work. Maybe it’s the 45 minutes after school. Perhaps it’s the witching hour that parents of young children know about when it’s too early for the kids to go to bed but too late to start any new activity. It’s that one time when you know – KNOW – that your patience will be tested. Your resolve will be challenged. And more times than not, you find yourself saying or doing something that you wish you hadn’t in retrospect.
For me, that time happens between between 10:45 and 11:15 am every Sunday morning.
Because we worship at the 8 am service, we all go to Bible study from 9:30 to 10:45. But then there is that 30 minutes. This is the time when I pick up the three kids and take them out the back door of church. It’s also the time that has become the unofficial congregating time of families on the front lawn of the building. A slew of kids of most all ages run around the acre or so of ground, hide behind bushes, play tag or some other game, while parents chat it up on the sidewalk by the door.
It’s also the time for me when in addition to all the above, one of the kids starts crying because they’re tired or skinned their knee. It’s when the requests start coming in for McDonald’s and playdates. And it’s when, at least on one occasion, I’ve caught the 3 year old, um, “watering” the trees at the corner of the church property.
For my good (and much godlier) wife, it’s a great time of connection and freedom. For me, it’s a weekly test of patience and challenge to my need for control. And for those latter reasons, this is also a time when I think my heart is both hard and fertile ground for the work of the Spirit.
The question for me, I think, is how ready I am to accept the work of the Spirit during this time.
I’m wondering how that time of the week might look different. Maybe it could look different for you, too. Maybe that sense of dread or apprehension you feel about that particular block of time might be seen with new eyes. Maybe we could together begin to see it, because of its difficulty for us personally, for what it is: a great opportunity for God to work in us the character of Jesus.
What if instead of dreading that moment, we began to thank God for such a regular opportunity for patience to be developed?
What if, during those times of stretching, we began to look consciously for opportunities to display the attitude of Jesus?
And what if, when it was over, instead of repenting over our missed opportunities and badly spent words, we took a moment to thank God for such a chance to embrace His work in our hearts?
I think it can be like that. But to do it, I’ve got to see those occurrences differently. I’ve got to become conscious of the Spirit’s work. I’ve got to, in short, pray for a sense of greater awareness of sanctification.
That would be an interesting experiment, wouldn’t it? I’m sure my wife would appreciate it…