One day Gandalf made an off-hand comment about needing more patience. His reply was quick and dramatic. "Don't you pray patience for me!!! If you do I will let all the air out of your tires!" Why you might ask would he respond so? Because if you pray for patience God will give you opportunities to practice. I really love the way God moves us forward in our lives. My boss says that 'God is ruthlessly committed to your sanctification.' Hmmm ruthlessly? Oh yes. I think we all have stories. God moves us forward through suffering- see Romans 5 or James 1- and he moves us forward by stretching our faith. Asking us to take great leaps of faith into the unknown is one of my favorite ways to grow. At least, it beats the heck out of life threatening illnesses. But God also moves in the small mundane things of life. Like through our children.
When we lived in Rohan we went through some really serious culture shock. We were deeply unhealthy emotionally and all of our relationships suffered. Arwen and I started yelling a lot at our two girls. Of course, they were in culture shock too so they behaved in ways that deserved to be yelled at a lot. But it was not good parenting. It was becoming increasingly out of control and one day after screaming at the girls in an uncontrolled rant I broke down. Arwen and I prayed together and then brought the girls in and sat them down. We told them that if they disobeyed they would be punished in appropriate ways but mommy and daddy were not going to yell at them any more. I have raise my voice on occasion but I can honestly say I have not broken this promise and railed on the girls the way we had done and neither has Arwen.
Well, after a promise like this you can count on it being tested. Not by the girls- they were 3 and 5- no, God was going to test this one.
I was cooking French Fries in the kitchen and had the potatoes and the oil out on the counter when our five year old Luthien came in. She just stood there quietly. I said, 'Hello sweety.' She didn't say anything. I turned back to the potatoes for a split second and when I turned back to her she was gone. And so was the open bottle of cooking oil. I took off out of the kitchen and into the living room- to her bedroom- to the next room- and then to my bedroom. I ran in and there she was. She was laughing and jumping on my bed with the open bottle of oil in her hand. Oil was flying out of the top and going everywhere. It soaked our pillows, sheets, dripped from the walls, and puddled on the floor. I took all this in in an instant and then immediately ducked out of the room and collapsed in laughter. I didn't want her to see me laughing but I looked up as I laughed and I knew without doubt that God had sent her to test my words which I had just uttered yesterday. I went back in the room and took the oil away from her and I gently asked her why she did that. She had no idea but I could hear Him laughing in Heaven with a deep laugh at the guy who promised never to lose his temper again.