Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Begin With Patience?


My family has attempted a family devotional time in various ways and at various times. With young children who have a zest for life, this can be a challenge. And by ‘zest’, I mean they often act like their goal in life is to accomplish the equal and opposite goals of their parents. And by ‘challenge’, I mean it might be a more productive use of my time to train an army of squirrels to herd kittens for no pay.

Motivational Sunsets
My kids test this theory.

Nevertheless, we try. Our latest endeavor involved an exercise in 1 Corinthians 13, the famed love chapter. I began by reading the first 3 verses, which talk about a life of love being nothing more than a resounding gong.

The boy: What’s a gong or cymbal.
Me: It’s a big round instrument that makes an annoying sound.
The boy: Oh, you mean like this?

The boy then proceeds to make clanging cymbals, which delights and amuses his sisters. We move ahead.

I tell them Paul is talking about how our actions need to have a right motive, or it means nothing. Then I tell them I want to take each description of love in verses 4-7 and come up with ideas for how we can show love in these various ways. The first description is patience. Perfect, because these 3 hobbits are already testing mine.

We ask them ways we each lack patience. They share some thoughtful answers. Then we ask them how we can each better practice love as patience. All of the sudden my dinner table becomes An Evening at the Improv and it is clearly amateur night.

Instead of providing actual answers, they take turns showing us different ways they test our patience. The noise is only slightly less irritating than when Jim Carrey, in Dumb and Dumber, asks Mike Starr if he wants to hear the most annoying sound in the world. EEE-AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Patiently gaining some order once more, my wife and I refocus them to giving real answers we can practice together as a family. They comply and it becomes a good exercise, one which we have tried again a few more times since that first night.

But it all could have been undone. That’s the truth with family devotions and living a life of love. Our first attempt may not be one for the record books. Yet, if we apply patience and keep looking ahead to the goal, a life of love, then it is worth putting up with a few distractions.

After all, love is patient. 

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