The Patience of God
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
Psalm 145:8 (NIV UK)
You might not know who Ray Harryhausen was, but I’m sure you’ve seen some of his films. He was the driving creative force behind such movies as Clash of the Titans, Mighty Joe Young and Jason & the Argonauts. With the magic of stop-motion animation, Harryhausen brought Greek mythology to life, allowed people to fly and always helped the hero to defeat the monster.
But stop-motion animation isn’t as easy as it looks. In fact, it’s a pretty gruelling process. It works like this—to create the illusion of movement, an animator must move the limbs of a character a fraction of an inch before snapping a single frame. Then, they make another adjustment and snap another picture. This process repeats until, slowly but surely, the little character moves across the room. As happens from time to time, if the character falls over, the animator will have to back up and start the scene over again.
That image of incremental movement and starting over reminded me of a concept that we sometimes lose sight of: God’s patience. We know there are times when all of us fail. And when we sin, we can think that we’ve let God down one too many times. But that’s not what we see in the Bible.
The life that Christ has called us into is one of “becoming.” We’re in motion (even if that motion can seem very, very slow at times). Our life in Christ is one of continuing transformation. I like how Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV).
God’s purpose is to perfect the beloved—his children. And while it might feel as if we’re only moving a fraction of an inch (like those clay characters in the movies), from God’s perspective, he is being faithful, committed to seeing us through to the end. He has the ultimate plan for our lives and knows that his will for us has been perfected in Christ our Saviour.
So start up the projector! Let’s turn on a Harryhausen movie, knowing that with Christ, there’s no monster big enough to stop us!
Gracious Father, we marvel at the extent of your patience and love towards us, even as we stumble on in this life you have called us to. Every time we fall, we sin, you graciously pick us up, dust us off, and set us off again to better. We thank you and praise you. In Jesus’s name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach
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