“Mommy, I want a snack!”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I counted to five in my head and trying to keep my voice as calm as possible, I leaned down, looked my daughter straight in the eyes, and said, “How do you ask nicely?”
She made an ugly face at me, crossed her arms, and I thought at first that she was going to make a big production out of a simple request. She then surprised me. She dutifully emphasized each word as she said, “May. I. Have. A. Snack. Please?”
As I sent her off to the cupboard to get her snack, I couldn’t help but wonder how many more times I would have to go through this same routine with her before she asked correctly the first time without a reminder. I still don’t know the answer to that question, but I know that politeness was a battle I had deemed early on as worth fighting. Therefore, I would go through this routine as many times as it took with each of my girls.
Whenever I feel frustrated at having to repeat myself hundreds of times, I can’t help but wonder how God can be so patient with us. How many times do we have to learn the same lesson? How often do we say ugly words, cross our arms, and refuse to do what He asks because we want to do it our way? Yet, God is persistent and is willing to do whatever it takes to lovingly guide us in the right direction. One thing He does is fill our world with repetition, especially the pulpits at the churches we attend.
Often as Christians, we go to church and say, “I have heard this sermon a hundred times. Yes, I know I’m supposed to be kind to others, love my spouse, and that I need to rely on God. Why can’t he preach on something new?”
Sermons do sometimes feel repetitious. A group of ladies I know write dates in their Bible when their pastor preaches on that set of verses. One day, they were talking about how the pastor seemed to be recycling ideas. They seemed annoyed by the fact that he was doing this.
Yet our pastors aren’t the only ones to do this. God uses repetition throughout the Bible. The book of Proverbs talks about wisdom over and over throughout its chapters. Stories about Jesus are repeated from gospel to gospel. Should we be annoyed with this?
Perhaps, instead, we should take note of the things repeated. When I was a teacher, I taught my students that repetition is a technique writers use to emphasize a point. Sometimes, reading or hearing something once isn’t enough. It is important enough that we need to hear it again.
We are not experts. Even experts in their field need constant learning and repetition to do their job better. As a teacher, I had to complete continuing education credits to keep my certification. Why? Because I needed to stay up-to-date on the latest in education and enhance what I was already doing to create an even better learning experience for my students.
When you hear repetition in sermons, blogs, or reading the Bible, take note. This might be God telling you to pay attention. Take it as an opportunity to grow in your Christian faith. Instead of tuning out the pastor, listen closely. This time, you may learn something new or be challenged in a different way than the last time you heard him speak on this topic.
One thing I know about God is that He is incredibly patient. There are so many lessons I have had to learn over and over again as I stumble through life. Thankfully, God is willing to repeat those lessons as many times as it takes.
I encourage you to take a moment and think about what things God may be repeatedly trying to teach you. Are you listening carefully and taking notes? If you continue to strive to learn from what He has to teach you, you might someday not need constant reminders and God can move on to a new way to stretch you and grow you.