“It’s six!! The clock says six!!” T-Rex announced as he stumbled into our room, his sandy blonde hair sticking out in every direction.
“Mmmmph. Thas nicccce…” I slurred as I rolled over. At least six was better than three a.m. which had been the case the previous few nights.
T-Rex slid under the sheets and promptly fell back asleep.
The previous day I had sat T-Rex down for a lengthy conversation, well lengthy for a five-year-old boy anyway, about why he needed to stay in his own bed until the first number on the clock read 6 or 7.
“Honey, I know you love to snuggle with us in the mornings, but you have to stay in your bed until it’s almost wake-up time, or Mommy and Daddy just don’t get a good night’s sleep.”
“But I do stay in bed until wake-up time.”
“Buddy, three a.m. is hours away from wake-up time.”
He stared at me blankly, and I knew that the concept of time was lost on him. However, he does know how to read his numbers. Bonus.
“Come with me, buddy, I’ll show you what I mean.”
He followed me up the stairs to his bedroom, and I pulled his Red Lego Ninjago alarm clock down off his loft bed. When you push down on the ninja’s head his belly, which is the clock’s display, lights up.
“See this first number right here, in front of the dots?”
“That number needs to be 6, 7 or 8 before you can get out of your bed and come into our room. You know what those numbers look like right?”
T-Rex pointed his index finger to an invisible chalkboard in the air and wrote a 6, 7 and 8.
“That’s it! You got it. Let’s try that tonight, ok?”
When he stumbled into our room as the human alarm clock announcing “It’s six!” I was happy to see that my strategy worked. Although, I regretted not making the first number be 7 or 8.
Later that afternoon, as his eyes spaced out and he yawned, I wondered just how long he laid awake that morning waiting for that first number to read 6.
“Hey T-Rex, did you wake up in the middle of the night and then wait for it to be six?”
“Well, when I first woke up the clock said 5.”
“Did you go back to sleep or did you watch it and wait for it to turn 6?”
“I watched it for awhile, but it was staying 5 forever! So I finally went back to sleep.”
I imagined him lying in bed, repeatedly smashing the ninja’s head. 5. Wait two minutes. Smash the head. Still 5. Wait one more minute. Smash the head. Still 5.
The concept of how long an hour is, still doesn’t register in his brain. In fact, the whole concept of the passage of time doesn’t mean much to him. Every day he wakes up asking if it’s a school day or a church day or if Daddy goes to work today. How many days til we go to Grandma’s house? How many days til we go back to school? He tries to count them on his fingers and keep track, but his little mind just can’t comprehend it yet.
As I think of him watching the clock at 5 a.m. feeling like it’s staying 5 forever, I can’t help but think of all the situations in our grown-up lives where it feels like it’s been 5 forever.
Relationships that need healing. A prodigal child’s return home. Inconclusive test results. Proposals for work. An answer on a job interview.
We stare at the clock of our lives and wonder where God is, or if He’s even there. Wherever He is, He’s not moving fast enough. The minutes tick by, but the hour never changes.
When will it be our hour to shine? To open the door and welcome someone back? To finally be understood? To have peace? To be well?
It’s been 5 forever. But our concept of time isn’t God’s.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:8-9
And so, roll over and try to rest while you wait. Remember that He is there, even if He seems silent. He is not too slow. He is patient. He is never late. Even when it feels like it’s been 5 forever.