Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. –Psalm 42:5 (NIV)
When my husband and I visited the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island, I became fascinated with sea turtles.
I learned that Mama Sea Turtle lays her eggs—as many as 120 at a time—in a nest she digs on a sandy beach, far enough away from the shoreline that the tides won’t reach it, yet close enough for the baby turtles to make their way to their ocean home once they’ve hatched and climbed out of the nest.
Sixty days after they’re laid, the eggs hatch, and the hatchlings make their way to the shoreline. Thirty to 35 years later, females will return to the beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.
The baby turtles’ lives are fraught with danger—mostly from predators on land and in the sea—but the period they’re most vulnerable is when they make their trek from the nest to the shoreline.
Once they’ve hatched, the little turtles head for the brightest horizon. Hence during hatching season the lights on beachfront buildings are turned off and residents are to close their window blinds at night so the hatchlings don’t head for the wrong light.
Not only are they exposed to predators on their dash to the sea, but also they’re in danger of dehydration from the sun. Many don’t make it. Yet helping them get from nest to surf is not in the best interest of the turtles. Although it’s a time fraught with danger, it’s necessary for the young turtles to make the trek themselves.
The crawl to the ocean allows them to “wake up”—remember they are only hours old. Alertness, mobility, and strength increase as they move. The trek is also an important part of a complicated “imprinting” process whereby their surroundings are imprinted on the brains of the baby turtles, so the females will return to the very beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.
I liken the hatchlings’ crawl to the ocean to the times in our lives when we, too, have to “muddle through.”
Let’s take a lesson from the sea turtle.
First, head for the right light. Many false lights clamor for our attention, but only one Light is the right one that will lead us to our eternal home. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus said. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Second, know the trek is necessary. The trial will make you stronger. It will refine you: “For you, O God, have tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10). It will develop perseverance and maturity: “The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3–4).
Also, trials purify your faith: “These (trials) have come so that your faith—of even greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine” (1 Peter 1:7).
And finally, the trials impress upon us that our lives are not random wanderings. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27)—thus we bear His imprint. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). After our sojourning, which will include many times of trial, we’ll find our way to home—and our Creator—again.
Thank you, Jesus, for being the Light that guides me through the muddling times and to home. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 42
Another fascinating fact about sea turtles: The temperature of the sand where the eggs are laid determines the gender of the hatchlings. Cooler sand (85 degrees F) results in more males; warmer sand (85 degrees F) produces more females.
For more information about sea turtles hatching, visit the National Park Service webpage, “How to See a Sea Turtle Hatchling Release.” There are also many other informative websites on sea turtles. Just type “Sea Turtles” in your browser.
(Today is the last day. Click on the book cover or the title.)
Whether you use these readings as part of your quiet time at the start of your day, when you need a quick pick-me-up throughout the day, or during a time of reflection at the end of your day, they will, in the words of a reader, “serve as an important reminder that God is always holding me tight.”