As children in Sunday School, we were most impressed with the aspects of God that seemed to meet our greatest lack. An all-knowing, all-seeing God seemed quite phenomenal, because he had no school to go to and no one shouting him down with “Because I said so.” An all-powerful God who could make anything and heal people and turn water into wine was also amazing, because who wouldn’t love to be able to conjure a candy bar out of thin air, or have your favourite toy out of the Sears Wishbook immediately?
But by the time Christians are old, the aspect of God they focus on the most is almost unanimously “Eternity”. We know the consequences of knowledge–and I happen to think those consequences are why God warned Adam and Eve away from the tree. We know the burden of creation, even in the watered-down way that humans experience it. Anyone who has had a child or watched a friend have a child gets that the act of creation is the birth of a bittersweet vigilance. So when we get closer to the threshold of Eternity and realise how brief our season on this form of existence has been, we have a new admiration for that aspect of God.
That’s why every form of decay can be one of the most powerful witnesses to Grace that we will ever know. Because while it is despairing to see a crumbling building or to begin to walk with a cane it is also a reminder of the nature of the span of our days. An underscoring of the frailty of what we are. So the knowledge that the Eternal God cares about us enough to want to love us and have a relationship with us is perhaps the most wonderful thing we can contemplate.