You know those personality tests that label a person as an animal? Maybe a dominant lion? Or a productive beaver? A warm labrador or an adorable otter? Well, I took an assessment of myself the other day. I came up as a two-toed sloth. Yes, I am a sloth — a cross between a wookie, a glacier, and an emoji happy face. God’s whimsical antonym to the majestic cheetah. It is difficult to watch a sloth without shaking one’s head and laughing. That is how I spend a good deal of my time — shaking my head and laughing.
Ever so slowly — with the greatest of determination, mind you — I work my arms through the sleeves of my jacket. An attempt to dry my hands usually leaves the water evaporating before I snail the towel over my skin. My teeth are ready for a re-brushing before I am finished with the first brushing. For integrity”s sake, I have removed from my vocabulary the phrase, “I’ll be back in a minute.” A sloth — shaking my head and laughing.
All of this slowness took my attention to a wonderful phrase that is repeated several times in Scripture: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)
All of the caricatures of “the mean old man upstairs” fall apart when faced with the true nature of our Lord: full of mercy, gracious, strong and steady in love, faithful, and slow to be angry with us. Our daily struggles against our sinful habits are cared for by God’s tender, patient hand.
And yet, there are times when the Lord appears to be slow, but is not. He has been accused of this when it comes to the return of Christ. But, take courage — “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:9-10)
Jesus is going to return. He will reshape the heavens and the earth. He will raise the dead. He will judge all mankind. He will provide eternal life to all who have trusted in Him to wash their sins away by His blood. He will reign forever and ever. And in the meantime, God is slow to anger . . . When I see the the two-toed paw of the sloth, I am reminded of the hand of God’s love and compassion. By reflecting on creation our minds can be drawn to truths expressed in the Scriptures. So, let’s hear it for the sloth. Let’s hear it for slow. Let’s hear it for the Lord! Shaking my head and laughing.