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.

 

Fighting SAD

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 8:12 (NLT)

January, for me, is a long, dark month when I want to sleep and eat more, especially bread and pasta, carbs that put on the pounds and make me feel tired and achy. Not surprising, January is when I gain the most weight and am grumpier and moodier than in other months. And take the most afternoon naps.

These are all classic symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that hits folks during the winter months, when the daylight hours are shortest. Scientists believe the lack of sunlight affects the output of serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. The more serotonin you produce, the better you feel. Less grumpy, hungry, and tired.

Most years, we spend a week in South Carolina between Christmas and New Year’s Day, visiting our daughter and soaking up the Southern sun. This year we didn’t make the trip. What a difference! Only two weeks into January I’m dealing with the symptoms of SAD, which seem worse than other years. I attribute that to no Southern sun and all the gray, cloudy, dreary days we’ve endured here in Western Pennsylvania these past few months.

Since serotonin is affected by the amount of time spent in natural sunlight, the treatment for SAD is simple: more light.

Bright light therapy involves spending at least half an hour, usually in the morning, before a bright lamp called a light box specifically made to simulate natural sunlight.

This year I invested in a SAD lamp. I noticed a difference the first day I used it. I wasn’t so draggy and depressed. These SAD lamps are effective, but I need to stick with the program until the season changes and not stop once I start feeling better.

Biblically, darkness represents evil, sin, and ignorance – a lack of the knowledge of God and His goodness. Just as physical darkness is the absence of light, so spiritual darkness is the absence of the Light – the Son that shines in our souls when we open our hearts and lives and let Him in.

But throwing open the windows of our souls one time isn’t enough the help us as we battle the darkness of the world in which we must live. Just like a person affected by SAD must spend at least half an hour every morning absorbing light, so must our spirits spend time with the Light of the World every day, absorbing His Word and basking in His presence through prayer.

This – and only this – will give us the energy to say no to the bad carbs of temptation and avoid adding the weight of sin to our world-weary spirits. Spending time in the Sonlight will give us energy to exercise righteousness and will satisfy the taste buds of our souls (“O taste and see that the LORD is good” –Psalm 34:8).

The season of darkness won’t be over until Jesus, the Son of God, returns, but until then, you can fight the January blahs – both physically and spiritually – with a two-word plan: Fiat lux – Latin for “Let there be light!”

Thank you, Lord, for Your unending light that warms me, lightens my path, and fills me energy. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 5:8–14

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.