Simeon: A Song of Hope
The reward is worth the wait.
In the 1960s, psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a famous experiment that has come to be known as "The Marshmallow Test." Groups of 4-years olds were given a marshmallow and told that if they waited 20 minutes before eating it, they would receive another. If they ate it, they would not get any more marshmallows.
Some kids could wait and others could not. The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (as determined by surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the SATs.
How would you have done on the marshmallow test? Are you willing to wait for things, or do you want your marshmallow right now? I'm pretty sure I would have been sent home for not only eating my marshmallow, but taking the other kids' marshmallows as well. I'm not really good at waiting for anything. I get cranky when I have to stand in line at the store, which means I get cranky every time I go to the store. Waiting is very stressful for me—even waiting for Christmas.
How are you at waiting for Christmas?
A friend of mine recently told me that she grew up in a small apartment—five kids in two bedrooms right across the hall from each other. After putting the kids to bed on Christmas Eve, her father would tie the door knobs together to prevent them from getting up too early! When he woke up, at his leisure, he would untie the doors and let them run to the tree.
I'm surprised my dad didn't try that after the time I got up, woke my little brothers, and started tearing into the presents about three in the morning one Christmas, just a few minutes after he had collapsed into bed ...
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Ed Rowell is pastor of Tri-Lakes Chapel in Monument, Colorado, and author of Preaching with Spiritual Passion (Baker).