Learning to Wait

A Christmas Eve Story for Children

(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg

Isaiah 40:30, 31
"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Scripture: Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Message Title: Learning to Wait

The sun rose late and set early Saturday, December 23, yesterday. But the day was still way to long. Sarah had gotten into biting her fingernails. The days were just taking too long for her satisfaction. This year it wasn't because of any presents under the Christmas tree, it was because Grandma and Grandpa were coming all the way from Holland to join them on Christmas Eve. She couldn't wait. It had been so many years since they had seen them last. She tried to watch TV, her mind was not on it. She tried playing with Teddy, but that didn't last long. Tomorrow Grandma and Grandpa would come!

Tim was getting older. He could hardly wait either - but it showed up in different ways. He was edgy. He would get into arguments over small things. He wanted to see Grandpa and Grandma too.

Ronald - to him it didn't seem to make much difference. 3 years old - he wanted to see what was in the colourful boxes under the Christmas tree. Mom already had to repair a few package wrappers. She was even suggesting that the presents be hidden to prevent Ronald from getting into them. Nobody wanted that, not even Dad.

They all slept restlessly on Saturday night. Waiting can do that to you. Sarah got up in the darkness of the night, crawled beside her mother in bed and whispered: "How long yet before Grandma and Grandpa come, mom?" And to her surprise, Mom was awake to, counting the hours. "Sarah, its not till 10 in the morning, that is 6 hours from now. Please try to go to sleep."

A few hours of restless sleep later - Dad roused them all out of bed. "Get up! Wash your face! Get dressed! Brush your teeth! They will be arriving at the Toronto airport in 3 hours and it takes us two hours to get there."

There was no need to encourage anyone. They had waited a long time for this day. Now it had come. The two hour trip from Picoa bay near Trenton to Toronto seemed longer than usual, to long even though Dad was speeding. But the roads were good. Only an ambulance beat him to the airport. They arrived at the international Terminal with clear instructions from Mom.

"Tim and Sarah - you have to help us watch Ronald. There will be a lot of people at the Pearson International Airport, you have to help us."

They walked into the terminal holding hands - for good reason. All Ronald could see was knees and feet. They worked their way through rivers of people toward the KLM gate, the gate where Grandma and Grandpa's airplane would park. Everyone was in a hurry. If Ronald were to get lost, he would really be lost.

The announcement was made.

"KLM Flight 231 from Amsterdam has just arrived. Passengers may be met at the customs exit on the second level."

They hurried up to the second level. Mom and Dad and Tim and Sarah waited, eagerly looking through the glass doors for Grandma and Grandpa. Ronald wanted to let go of Sarah's hand and go wondering, but he couldn't. Sarah just wouldn't let go.

Small groups of people started coming through the glass doorways. Young people, teenagers with wild hair styles. Old people. Parents with children. One after another came through the doorway. But no grandma and grandpa. The number of people coming through the doorway started to slow down - still no grandma and grandpa.

"Where could they be?" Mom asked.

"Oh don't worry." Dad replied - but Tim could see that he was concerned. "They probably ran into some snag in customs."

They waited. Tim was getting edgy again.

"Where are they Dad?" Sarah asked. Ronald was really starting to become a pain, constantly pulling on her arm. Mom finally picked him up and tried to distract him by pointing toward some of the Christmas decorations in the airport.

Then the announcement came:

"Mr. John Johnston, please report to the KLM security desk on the First floor, blue concourse."

Mom looked at Dad.

"That's us!" Dad said

"Go there right now dear. The kids and I will catch up with you."

Dad left at a pace that would have made any other person run. His long legs were driven by worry. Tim, Sarah, Ronald and Mom walked Ronald's pace as they worked their way through the crowds to the escalator, to the lower level and then to the KLM security office.

When they entered the door - there was Grandma. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as Dad held her in a strong reassuring hug.

Mom blurted out "Where is Grandpa?"

John Johnston turned toward his wife. "He is on the way to the hospital dear. He had a lot of chest pains. They say he may have had a blood clot or a heart attack."

Though tears were rolling down her cheeks, Grandma's wrinkled smile radiated from her face when she saw Tim, so big, and Sarah, so attractive, and Ronald. Ronald looked at Grandma's wrinkled face. He had never seen her before. He didn't understand her tears. He wasn't sure that he wanted to come to close to her. But her smile won his heart, he bravely gave her a hug, just like Tim and Sarah.

But now through the tears they had to find out information. "Where is Grandpa now?" asked Sarah. A kind women from the airline told them that Grandpa was on his way to the Toronto General hospital. They had to make sure they got all the luggage before they went to see him there.

Silently, quickly they hurried together the luggage. To the car, out of the parkade, onto the highway again, in their daze the long distance to the hospital whizzed by. In no time they were parked in the bright sun, near the front entrance of the hospital. They would have run into the hospital, but Grandma couldn't run anymore. Her speed tested Tim's patience. Sarah walked holding Grandma's hand. Ronald was getting hungry, and he just didn't understand why they had to go to another big building full of people.

Ronald complained about his feet - they hurt. He was hot in his oversized snow suit. And the long hallways made him drag his heals even more. Finally they made it to the waiting room of the emergency department. Mom gave Tim and Sarah very clear instructions.

"Tim, Sarah, you take care of Ronald. Don't let him out of your sight while we go in and find out what is happening with Grandpa."

If they found it hard to wait while they were at home, waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive at the airport, now they had to wait even harder to wait in the hospital.

After a few hours in the waiting room, not knowing what was happening, Tim started to become very grouchy. He didn't much pay attention to Ronald anymore. He was getting sick of the trips with Ronald to the washroom. Part of him wanted to be able to go see Grandpa, at least talk to him. But they still were not allowed.

Sarah had difficulty waiting too. Her heart raced. She found herself worrying just like Mom. Thoughts and concerns raced through her mind. She paced back and forth, watching Ronald, turning her back on Ronald, watching Ronald, turning her back on Ronald. What if Grandpa was sick for a long time - they would miss Christmas. If they missed Christmas, this would be the second year that they missed Church on Christmas day. And she was singing in the choir. She paced back and forth, watching Ronald, turning her back on Ronald, watching Ronald, turning her back on Ronald. She turned again - Ronald was gone!

"Tim - where's Ronald?"

"I thought you were watching him."

"Can't you help just once instead of watching that dumb TV?" Even as she accused Tim of not helping, she knew it was not true. He had done his fare share, but now Ronald was gone."

"Where did he go? Ronald!"

They ran around the large waiting room looking behind chairs and benches. They looked in the children's play house in the corner - No Ronald to be found."

Ronald you see, was also having difficulty waiting. He just couldn't sit and wait for things he did not quite understand - so he decided to go for a walk - down a green hallway where big people in yucky green cloths seemed to be in a big hurry. Ronald liked colourful things. In no time he found a room full of colourful things - TV screens with funny pictures on them. One TV screen had some wiggly green lines that went up and down and up and down, almost like the waves of the ocean. Another machine on this tall pole made a strange humming sound and it had neat little super long drinking straws hanging down from it. Another box had some red numbers glowing in it that seemed to change. He wondered why - he picked it up and shook it, wondering if he could make the numbers change. He then tried to push some of the buttons, and the machine started to beep. From high up behind him he heard a stranger's voice - "Kline kint....

Mom and Dad and Grandma heard Sarah call Ronald's name. Quickly they left their discussion with the doctor to find out what was happening. Sure enough, they came out of the office and there was Sarah and Tim running up and down the hallways looking for Ronald.

"What happened?" Mom asked

"He just disappeared!" Sarah answered.

"I though you were both watching him. I told you too!"

"We were Mom, he just disappeared!"

Mom stopped her debate. This was no time to figure out who had failed in their duty. Now was the time to find where Ronald was. Not for Grandma though. She was tired - tired from the flight, tired from the stress of what happened. She sat down with Sarah in the waiting room while the others ran down the hallways calling Ronald's name.

And then she said to Sarah - "There is one thing we can do together."

"What Grandma?"

"Let's pray together."

Sarah agreed - they could pray together. So they did. First Sarah prayed and asked God to help Mom and Dad and Tim to find Ronald, and then she prayed for God to help Grandpa get better. And then Grandma prayed. She was quiet for a long time at first, and they she prayed in a language that Sarah could not understand - but her words were quiet and calming, as Sarah listened to her Grandma pray, her words were so peaceful, Sarah somehow knew God was in control of everything. Sarah could feel that God was very close to Grandma, just by the way she prayed. When they had finished praying, they sat there quietly for a few minutes, just waiting. Grandma turned to Sarah and said:

"God will take care of us. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future."

Mom and Dad and Tim were going into rooms that said "No admittance" or "Authorized Personal Only" - but Ronald was not to be found.

Meanwhile, Ronald and an old man in a bed had started a conversation. The man convinced Ronald to put the colourful little box with its red glowing numbers down carefully. And then the old man's gentle smile convinced Ronald that this man was not so bad after all. Soon, with a little help from the old man, Ronald was sitting on his narrow bed beside him - he was telling the old man about the colourful boxes under his Christmas tree at home, and how big their tree was, and that his daddy had cut it down himself with a saw. The old man listened and smiled - a smile that took the exact shape of the plastic tube that ran under his taped nose. They both laughed together when Ronald pointed to the big double smile on this old man.

Grandma and Sarah sat for close to half an hour. Mom and Dad were ready to call the police. The hospital security officers were already searching with them. Ronald was nowhere to be found. Grandma and Sarah choose to go back to see how Grandpa was doing - Grandma couldn't search anyway. Slowly they walked together to Grandpa's room, they pulled back the curtain - and guess what they saw.

Yes - there was Grandpa laying in bed and Ronald sitting beside him in bed laughing. Sarah quickly called Mom and Dad and Tim - they had all worried for nothing. God made sure that Ronald went to the right person - right to Grandpa.

On that day - they all learned something about trusting God. Sarah learned especially from Grandma how important it is to pray and trust, and bind our hearts close to God's heart when we are in trouble. On that day, the whole Johnson family learned something about trusting. Even the clot busting medicine seemed to work miracles for Grandpa. The pains disappeared. In a few days he would be allowed out of the hospital. In a few days they could go home. Now though, even in the hospital, it was a good Christmas. They had each other. Grandma had Grandpa. They had Ronald. And God had them. It seemed like the best gift they could receive was each other with God taking care of them.

As Tim dozed off that night in a hotel room, he wondered about God, how incredible he is that he takes care of even one family when there are billions of people in this world. And he wondered about Jesus, born in Bethlehem, born to take care of people, like Ronald, like Grandpa, and Grandma, and Sarah, and Mom and Dad - and he had to admit - himself.

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(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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