Lessons from the Sea Turtle

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 are 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 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 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.

Read and reflect on Psalm 42.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Between Panic and Paradise

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. —Hebrews 11:1 (TLB)

 On State Route 119 between Big Run and DuBois stands an interesting and somewhat amusing highway sign, giving the direction and mileage to some area towns: Panic, Desire, and Paradise. Yes, those are real names of real towns here in western Pennsylvania.

Pity the poor folks who have to say they live between Panic and Paradise. Wait. That would be all of us. 

On our journey from the womb to the tomb, much like the ancient Israelites’ 40-year trek through the wilderness, we travel through various states of panic and desire (and so much in between) to get to our Promised Land. We learn the rules of survival along the way—one of which, and the most important, is to carry a survival kit.

Included in this survival kit are four essential items.

First is a vision of your destination—Paradise, or Heaven, God’s home. In this goal-setting society in which we live, we’re advised to post a picture of what it is we want to achieve someplace where we’ll see it everyday. When we were still building our house—a 30-year-project—I taped picture of a log home inside a kitchen cupboard door. Keeping what we want in sight daily reaffirms the belief that we will eventually get there and helps us to trudge through the rough spots. Read Revelation 21 and 22 often to keep the vision of your destination fresh.

Another vital item your survival kit should carry is faith, which will fuel your faltering steps. As Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.” As defined by God’s Word, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

The third item is a map to guide you along the way. You already know the route: Jesus Road, for He said, “I am the way. … No one comes to the Father (and His home) except through Me” (John 14:6). But we can get confused when darkness descends, as it always will. God’s Word, as phrased in The Message, will “throw a beam on light” on the darkened path (Psalm 119:105).

The last item is identification. Even when I’m hiking, I carry my driver’s license in a pocket. Identification is proof that we are who we say we are. When you travel to a foreign country, you need proof of citizenship. On our journey to Paradise, we carry the citizenship papers Jesus provided—proof that we are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). We don’t belong to the world we’re traveling through. Like the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we’re “aliens and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

As you travel from Panic to Paradise, clutching your survival kit, remember you don’t walk alone, for the King of your destination is travelling with you. (See Exodus 33:14; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20). 

As I trek through the wilderness of this world, Lord, remind me to use my survival kit.  Amen.

Read and reflect on Hebrews 11.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.