The Big Word
By Thea Coker

“Thea Judith” …
“Wash your hands, eat all your vegetables, don’t interrupt, say please, say thank you, and mind your manners!”

My mother always used my middle name when she wanted me to pay attention and listen to her!
My little ears heard those words of instructions from my mother many, many times. She said that if I didn’t listen then I would have to “feel”. Sometimes I heard those words and quickly obeyed but when I didn’t, she gave me a little “helping hand” that I would receive on my “fanny” as she called it.

The “chubby little tanned girl” finally has THOSE instructions down pat! I know for certain what they mean and usually, I obey them.

But for the most part, I live in my own little pretend world. I don’t go to school yet and so most of my time is lived outside, in my yard, or on the beach with my mother and her best friend, Ms. Thelma, or in the woods behind our house playing with my friends. In MY world, I am always the center of attention! In MY world, I am the princess or the teacher or the mamma but whoever I am…I am definitely in charge! I only listen to others when it’s absolutely necessary!

The “chubby little tanned girl” also learned another very important thing…and that is how to ‘tune out” your parent’s voice. Parents had “grown up talk” and I tuned it out instinctively. I didn’t need to listen to it nor was I the least bit interested in their big people world!

But at times, I did hear some very big words that I kind of “wondered” what they meant. One of those big words I heard from my mother was…”Testapatience.” It was a big, long word and I did not have clue what it meant. I played, I pretended and I kept hearing that word. After a while, I realized I was hearing it a lot!

One day, playing in my little world of make believe, not listening to my mother at all, she called me a NAME! The only names my mother ever called me were sweet names, like precious and sweetie, or her little angel, but this time, my mother CALLED me the BIG word…”Testapatience”!

She said “I” was her “Testapatience”!

I was still clueless, although, it must not be good because her face looked very different from her “precious little Thea” face. I laugh today as I think of that. 

This morning, in my quiet time with the Lord, I hear our youngest 7 month old grandson; begin to school his parents in this long and powerful word…”Testapatience”! They are visiting from Michigan for the Thanksgiving holidays and each morning, very early, I hear his sweet little voice. 

He’s awake before 5: 00 and his parents are very sleepy! “Precious” is wide awake, playing and singing and then eventually…fussing. There is no stopping it. He wins and “school is in session”.

Someone has to get up, fix a bottle, fight back the tired and sleepy eyes and take care of the “kid”! Since mommy had her session at midnight, daddy has been enrolled for the early morning session.

Children are a blessing from the Lord and will fill our hearts with some of the greatest pleasures we will ever experience. But…yes, they are certainly… the BIG word! A “Testapatience”!

In the book of James, we are given instructions to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the “testing of your faith produces patience”. But let it have its perfecting work, that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

Deuteronomy 8:2,3 says, “You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these 40 years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowing you to hunger, fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know, that man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” 

Trials and tests are given to us to humble us and show us what’s in our heart…which is usually NOT a pretty picture! We are to be patient…but we are impatient and irritated instead. We may have learned to muzzle our outward complaining but God sees the heart and He knows we don’t have what it takes and so we gripe, complain and blame others!And then in exasperation and impatience…we call out to God to help us! And He does! Trials and tests give us a taste of our own shallowness as we try to drink deeply from our own empty cup!

In our wilderness, we become hungry and thirsty for something “other” than our own way of solving life’s problems! We pray and think…perhaps God has a Word for me…so, weary from the test, I strain to hear…“Come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest.”

As the” chubby little tanned girl”, wore out my mother’s patience…she fled to the only source of patience…God himself. He humbled the little mother, as she faced her own lack and He taught her by experience that “man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeded from the mouth of God.”

I was NOT my parent’s easy child by any means! I have my mother’s old journals, written during my childhood, that are filled with prayers for her precious little angel, Thea, her strong-willed child!

But, I WAS God’s tool in my mother’s life to help her grow and mature, to stretch her faith, to humble her and cause her to pray. Where else could she go but to God to get help raising this strong willed, little girl! When she was “bone-tired” I did not care, I was just a kid…she put my needs first anyway. When I was a teenager, and thought I hated her…she loved me and prayed for me, anyway.

Yes, I was her “Testapatience”. And God changed her…she became a prayer warrior, a lover of the Bible and the most patient, humble and godly woman I have ever known!

I miss you, Mamma, and thank you so much, for loving the tool of God’s “Testapatience” named Thea, in your life. I have learned so much from your example and others are still learning as I pass on in my little stories what you taught me in your unassuming ways, in a little cottage in Beach Haven, so many, many years ago.

So…what’s your trial today… or should I say, who is your “Testapatience”?

This “Testapatience” may possibly be the greatest blessing you will ever know…if it puts you on your knees, in God’s Word, seeking the source of patience…God, Himself!

“Anything that causes you to pray is indeed, a blessing”!

“Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces patience. And let patience have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom; let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given him, but let him ask in faith with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is double minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8

Let’s talk about it….

  •  What or who is your “testapatience” right now?
  • Have you been obedient to “count it all joy” and realize that God wants to mature your faith through this?
  • Have you accepted the fact that our children’s lives are often God’s greatest tools to humble us and make us realize how desperate we are for Him and His undeserved Grace every single moment?