There were tears.
Lots of them.
We’re fully immersed in end-of-the-year testing for my school-age kids, which in Virginia means taking the SOL’s (Standards of Learning).
Maybe you think that means we’re stressed or anxious.
Actually, we’re doing a lot of celebrating.
The girls get more than cereal or toast for breakfast on SOL days, and it’s not often they wake up to a hot breakfast on a Monday morning.
I leave them extra notes of love and encouragement in their lunch bags and slip in treats as well.
They don’t have their regular homework load (hurray!) and we can spend the afternoons playing, relaxing and occasionally running out for ice cream to reward them for their labors.
We celebrate every day they finish a test because we’re one step closer to summer.
So for my first grader—who is too young to take the SOLs (they start in third grade)—all this celebrating seems suspiciously unfair.
Even if she also gets hot breakfasts, ice cream treats, and fun nights just like her older sisters, she’s pretty sure she’s missing out.
That’s why she was bawling at bedtime last week, because her older sisters get to go to the SOL carnival and she can’t.
This carnival is for all the kids at school who take the SOL’s, which means third graders and up.
My first grader has a problem with that.
No water slide? No games with prizes? No cotton candy? No face painting? No popcorn?
She’s pretty sure she can’t wait until she’s in third grade to experience the joys of the SOL carnival. Why should she wait, after all, when the older girls are having all the fun now?
We try to reason with her.
How the SOLs are hard work and this is their reward. Would she want to take those tests now when she hasn’t learned what she needs to know?
We explain how her sisters didn’t get to go to the carnival in first grade either. They also were first graders who didn’t get to go once upon a time.
Why rush these things? Sure, there are incentives to growing up. But there are responsibilities, too. There are drawbacks and hard jobs and lots of work.
We want her to enjoy now.
She wants to rush on to what she imagines is the glorious future. She overlooks the hard and longs for the ultimate reward.
We’re asking her to wait.
And waiting is tough. Waiting requires trusting God’s timing. Waiting demands patience. Waiting wearies us because even though we’re moving forward on this journey, sometimes we just feel stuck.
Waiting means lingering with God in the here and now instead of wanting the end already, can we just skip to the end?!
Waiting tugs at our faith and nudges us with doubts because we wonder if God has abandoned us and forgotten us along the way.
I wonder how much I’m like my little girl, so obsessed with future blessing that I want to skip to the end?
And what would that truly mean? It would mean missing the journey. It would mean receiving blessings I’m unprepared for and responsibilities I can’t carry.
In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel the prophet anointed the teenage shepherd boy, David, to be king of Israel after Saul.
But that doesn’t mean they held a coronation ceremony right away.
No, Saul was still the king at the time, so David just went right back to the fields to tend sheep.
Then he defeated Goliath and went to live in Saul’s palace a while.
Then Saul’s jealousy became rage and David spent 13 years running for his life.
Then Saul died.
Even then, David didn’t rush to take the throne. Instead, he spent another 7-1/2 years reigning over Judah alone from a city called Hebron.
Sheila Walsh writes:
“David was content to stay where God told him to stay for as long as it took” (The Longing in Me, p. 93).
All those years of waiting (more than 20 !) between the moment that oil poured down on his head to anoint him as king and the moment when he settled into the Jerusalem palace, David didn’t seem to push ahead.
He didn’t kill Saul. He didn’t start public opinion campaigns to sway the populace to his side. He didn’t connive or contrive, plot or plan a way to skip to the end.
He trusted God “for as long as it took.”
Can we trust God like that?
What a day it must have been when David finally sat on that throne in Jerusalem. King. After all those years.
God had done the work. David hadn’t pushed it along or made it happen. God had done it. All God and only God.
May that be our testimony too when God completes the work He’s doing in us.