You many never have thought of yourself this way, but you are a “wait-er.” Ever since you were a baby waiting to be fed, you have felt the sometimes-uncomfortable sensation of waiting. You have been building a stronger character and practicing the virtue of patience since the very beginning. As parents, we have the joyful expectation of waiting for a baby’s due date to arrive, waiting for her to learn to talk, or for other milestones as our children grow up. Then again, on long journeys, we are the ones scolding, “Just be patient!” to the familiar “Are we there yet?” queries from the back seat.
As people of the kingdom of God, don’t we know the struggle of waiting patiently even more profoundly? We know that our hurting world needs healing that only Jesus can provide. Sometimes, that childlike impatience feels so valid. After all, the entire cosmos is watching for something that has not yet happened. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed,” says Paul (Romans 8:19). We want all that is wrong in our lives and in the world to be made right—right now!
“Just relax and enjoy the ride!” is my usual response to those backseat “When are we going to be there?” questions. But waiting is not enough when it comes to discipling our children to know God and His purposes. Along with being “waiters,” let’s also learn how to be “watchers.”
This practice of watchfulness is as simple as pointing out at a flower growing out of crack in the sidewalk, or a bird lighting on a tree branch. A few nights ago, a neighbor knocked on the door at dinnertime. “Quickly, come outside!” she breathlessly exclaimed. The kids and I hurried outside to see the sky lit with brilliant orange, pink, and purple hues. It was a beautiful sunset and a powerful display of God’s glory. In that moment, our friend invited us to watch with her, and I was really thankful that she did. When we as parents take time for moments like these, we help our children connect the beauty of our world with its creator.
Sometimes God has us in a season of waiting and watching. During these times, don’t forget to prepare for working. When it comes to reaching all the nations with the good gift of Jesus, the time will come, or may already be here, when it is no longer appropriate to wait and watch. Paul asks later in Romans, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14) Are we preparing our children to join with God in what He is doing in the world?
There is value in the mundane activities of everyday life when we know that we are ambassadors of Jesus. As you go about your day, encourage your family to always be “God-watching.” It may have been a sunset, a kind word spoken, or provision in a time of need, but tell each other where you spotted God at work in your normal routine. Additionally, pray together with your children, asking God to show your family where you can join in His work. You might be surprised at the opportunities that arise. God’s work isn’t just for adults—help your children realize it and give them multiple chances to get involved!
As believers, we wait for the fullness of the kingdom of God with “eager anticipation.” The truth is, we all want to know, “Are we there yet?” but the answer is, “Not yet!” Jesus told His disciples that they would be His witnesses to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The ends of the earth are still out there. Giving your children opportunities to see the world through God’s eyes may someday translate into hearts that notice the overlooked, unwanted, or unreached people who are also waiting, and watching, for someone to walk into their lives with a little good news.