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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

Papa Kim's Patience

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you.” The other day I was chatting with a friend about our life plans. We’re both in our mid-forties, and we both feel like it’s kind of late to gain mastery in some of our pursuits. For my friend, he hadn’t felt the freedom to undergo any career planning until recently, when God gave him some revelation that he might not necessarily go back to his family business. “It feels so free, but at the same time, I feel like it’s so late. I wonder if I’m behind.” I reminded my friend that my dad didn’t start his career proper until he was about 50 years old. He had always seen himself pursuing a career as an academic, but for some reason, positions didn’t open up for him out of grad school. So he joined the US government as a researcher, getting his academic fix by teaching his own kids and college group bible studies at church. What probably felt like 30 years wandering in the desert served to prepare my dad for what lay ahead. When he received a call offering him a professorship at Seoul National University, he quickly accepted despite the acute pay cut, because he knew himself and what God had designed him to do. Upon landing at SNU, Dad began to ask his students for feedback after each lecture. “What is one thing you liked, and one thing you didn’t like about today’s class?” In the conservative, Confucian Korea of the 1990’s, this was totally unheard of. “I’m the teacher, you are the student. Clearly, I know what I am doing and you don’t, so who are you to tell me how to teach?” was the line of thinking for most profs around town. But through this tactic, which he picked up outside of academia, dad quickly improved his delivery and got cited very quickly as the top lecturer, at the top university in the country. That led to invitations for speaking events, newspaper articles, numerous books, TV appearances and eventually his own TV series. In another development, Dad was invited to redesign the national science curriculum by the Ministry of Education. He had realized that people are designed to understand stories, not to memorize facts. So the traditional method of teaching science through disparate coursework in biology, chemistry, and physics started to seem outdated to him. Drawing from inspiration teaching the story of God’s creation to those college kids, Dad created a curriculum that weaved science into the storyline of the universe. Literally millions of students have benefited from learning about the beauty of God’s creation in a more engaging way through the creation of Dad’s curriculum. I’m really proud of my dad for the positive impact he’s made on the world. I’m really proud of him for knowing himself well enough to take the role despite a short-term pay cut. But I’m most proud of him for his patience and positivity in the midst of his waiting. Dad’s an eternal optimist, and that comes through his faith I suppose. Growing up, my sister and I never sensed any bit of discontent or anxiousness about his calling. Today I often get impatient with the goals I’ve set out in life. But I feel like God is reminding me that he is not slow in keeping his promise. Instead, he is patient with me. If there’s anything you’ve been waiting on, I think God also might also be telling you today that he’s preparing you for something really amazing, so sit tight and strap on your seatbelt. Dear Lord, thank you for having a plan. I declare that you are never late. You are always on time. I love you so much. In your son’s most precious name, Amen.

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