One of the first horror movies that I ever saw was about a bunch of children that terrorized their parents. Children of the Corn, I think it was called. I only saw about ten minutes of it but it really got to me.
Now that I’m the father of two small boys, hardly a day goes by without me thinking that I’m living in some sequel to that movie. Children of the Pastor, maybe? Either way, it’s really starting to get to me.
Being a father has reminded me of how selfish I am and how I want everything to be in order. Things are never in order when you’re a parent. And with every whine, spill, hit, pout and poked out bottom lip there is something inside of me that seems to be on the verge of snapping. Children of the Pastor 2: Daddy’s Revenge.
By nature, I’m not one to snap. But that’s not good enough. Sometimes kids can make you react in ways that you never thought were possible for you. I need something else to help me to raise my boys in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) instead of just plain old discipline and instruction.
Thankfully, I have it.
In John 14:16 Jesus promised to give his disciples a Helper that would be with them forever. In Acts 2 that promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit filled believers on the day of Pentecost. In Romans 8:9 Paul writes that all believers have that same Spirit living inside of them. And in Galatians 5 Paul says that the Holy Spirit makes his presence known in the believer’s life through certain attributes or fruit.
Attributes like patience.
People used to tell me to never pray for patience. The implication was that God, like some evil genie, would run me through a series of trials so tough that I would end up regretting my request.
When one of my sons spills his milk at breakfast for the third time while the other one laughs at him, I don’t ask God to give me patience like I’m asking for something that’s completely foreign to me. I’m asking for something that, because of the Holy Spirit, is already there. More than anything, my prayer is a request for help to “keep in step with the Spirit” that lives inside of me (Galatians 5:25).
Early yesterday afternoon my wife took our two sons on a long trip to see their newborn cousin. At the end of the day I came home to an empty house.
While I made my dinner, there were no little hands trying to touch the hot stove top and no voices begging me to leave the food alone and come to play.
I turned the radio on.
While I ate my dinner, there was no one throwing up all over the table, spilling milk or asking if he could be done.
I turned the TV on.
And while I wrote this, there was no one fighting with his brother over covers or running out to tell me that he had a bad dream.
So I prayed for God to help me to be patient until my kids get home.