At 21 months old, our eldest daughter E amazes us. Each day she seems to pick up something new. I’ve been sitting here at the playground and she’s climbed each of the ladders (all different sizes) on her own, and slid down the slide (she loves it by the way, especially once she’s at the bottom, where she copies me and stares up at the sky for a moment and says, “Sleep”).
She can now walk along the rickety bridge, climb up the slide with the help of her sticky shoes, and hoist herself up on the see-saw before declaring to the world, “Horse!”, followed by a small galloping motion that is better seen than described.
She now also picks up random bits of rubbish, and at my encouragement instead of eating it, motors towards the rubbish bin and drops the cigarette butt/sweet wrapper/paper bag into the bin. High fives and fist bumps all round.
And when she climbs up the ladder to get to the slide, she’s very careful. She takes small, calculated steps with her legs. She’s patient to move one leg only after the other and her hands are holding firm. And the beam on her face as she stands above the ladder victorious is priceless.
This evening I juxtaposed our playground moment with some light reading, Joel Beeke’s Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. And at the end of chapter 4, he summarises what the Puritan Stephen Charnock says about one of God’s attributes, His patience:
The wickedness of man is an affront to God, but God nevertheless exercises patience in terms of delaying His wrath and tempering it. The question inevitably must be raised as to why God does so. The answer given above has in view the mediatorial work of Christ. This is certainly the main reason, but the patience of God toward sinners on account of Christ also shows God to be appeasable. God desires reconciliation with His creatures and so He does not destroy them at once, but gives them space for repentance.
Practically speaking, the patience of God also allows for the propagation of the human race. Mankind would be unable to increase in number if God killed all humans upon their entry (or even conception) into the world. More specifically, God’s patience allows for the continuance and growth of the church… in this light, Charnock observes, “There could not have been a saint in the earth, nor, consequently in heaven, had it not been for this perfection”…
So if God were not patient and merciful, slow to anger, these precious playground moments wouldn’t have existed. E would not have lived past one moment of conception. I would not have done so. Cheryl would not have.
Whether E or sister H end up worshipping God in Christ, the Patient One knows. But I can be thankful to God that His patience means salvation for girls and boys, men and women of every race.