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Jun 2009

Do Turtles Have Patience?

Today in our playdate with the 4-8 year olds from CHAT (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring) we talked and sang a lot about turtles.  Turtles weren’t really the point, but I couldn’t help but sing the chorus of the old Music Machine song “Have Patience” while we made turtles out of paper plates. (And in case you happened to click on that link…no, I did not become a ventriloquist and sing to a live turtle.)

Turtles are slow, but I wonder if they really have patience.  I guess we’ll never know.  But we do know that God has patience with us and shows us His patience by sending Jesus to save us and draw us to repentance.

The kids stuck with me through a bit of theology (which I hope they heard as good news!) and into some storytelling of the parable of the unmerciful (impatient) servant. This story came up in response to this question posed:  If God is patient with us in Jesus, should we be patient with other people?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.  The story really bugs me because I don’t like how bad it makes me look.  I know my impatience and unforgiveness is wrong, but I think it’s justified.  And I particularly don’t like how the story ends.  When I read it, I want to say, “OK- OK- I ought to do better.  Next time I’ll try harder.”  But the last verse tells me that God will treat me like the king treated the servant unless I forgive from my heart.  From my heart.  But my heart is the obstacle that I stumble over.

If only I could be like the turtle- patient by nature.  But God designed me to stumble over my self-sufficiency and fail at my own heart operations.  I need that mysterious Spirit-inspired heart operation that the prophet Ezekiel talked about.

I suppose the hope lies in the dilemma: “Remember, remember, that God is patient too…” and God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience are the very things that lead us to repentance.


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