Thirty-Something Dinnertimes

By: Jenny Stricklin
“Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.” James 5:7-8

For his eleventh birthday, my son asked for a rock tumbler,  a little machine that transforms natural rocks into smooth gemstones. He’d already collected a few gems from various souvenir shops, but he wanted to be able to polish his own.

When the big day rolled around, he was so excited to open his gift. Couldn’t wait to get the thing out of the box. He’d have smooth rocks in his pockets by dinnertime.

So you can imagine his disappointment when he discovered that it would actually take more than thirty dinnertimes for the tumbling to take full effect. That might as well be forever.

Waiting is the worst.

Turns out rock tumbling is a lengthy refining operation, in which the rough exterior of the rock is buffed off by varying degrees of grit over the course of several multi-day progressions.  So, if he wanted the smooth rocks, he’d have to surrender to the process.

And bless his heart, he did.

But do you know how he managed to endure?

I suppose it’s how any eleven-year-old could manage to wait thirty-something dinnertimes for a result they really wanted right now. Every day, he studied the pictures on that rock tumbler box. Every day, he imagined what it would feel like to hold those rounded rocks in his hand.

In other words, he fixated on the final product. When he considered what he had coming, he believed that the waiting was worth it. He remembered the trial was temporary.

I think that’s what James means for us too.

We can endure because eternity is near. We can suffer long because it won’t be long till suffering ends. We can surrender to the process, and in the process find surrender to be a good gift.

Study the Story. Imagine the day.

Of course, nobody knows how many more dinnertimes there are until that day comes. But everyone knows it will be worth the wait.
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