I love turtles! I don’t know why. I mean what are turtles famous for? One mantra I read said, Slow & Steady Wins the Race! Maybe that’s it. I was a crappy runner as a kid so maybe I needed a mantra like that to keep in the game.
My first real pet was a turtle. You know the small soft shelled ones that were so cute and pretty easy to look after. We couldn’t afford a tank, so we cut off the side of a one gallon plastic jug and made a home for my turtle. I surrounded a couple of large smooth rocks with sand to make a resting place for my turtle. Then I decorated it with some twigs and leaves that I gathered from our backyard. I must have done something wrong because that turtle didn’t survive for very long. When it died I made my family participate in it’s funeral and buried it in our backyard.
Many years later I loved reading ‘Franklin the Turtle’ books to my children. Not just that the story was about a turtle, but the artwork was amazing! I started a turtle collection and put the turtle mantra on my Facebook about page. I wasn’t obsessed with turtles, I just liked them.
Little did I know what kind of meaning a turtle would have in my life. But God knows my heart and He knows how to speak to it in a special way. You see, I suffered a fair bit of emotional trauma in my life, most of it based on rejection. Eventually I found myself retreating inward and putting up a shell of protection. One day my spiritual mentor, who knew nothing about my love of turtles, carefully counselled me about my turtle shell of protection. She really knew me and knew the soft insides, but the tough outsides were telling others around me that I didn’t need their help and that their attempts to connect with me were ricocheting off my turtle shell exterior.
I was living slow and steady wins the race, but I was depending on my steady. My steady was really a trap of oppression. I was living guarded, fearful, and isolated while being pummeled with lies telling me ‘You will never ______! Every time I tried to reach out to join in and do what I felt God was calling me to do I would encounter rejection all over again. Or at least in my mind it was rejection… so I stopped trying! I had entombed myself inside a hard shell of disappointment rehearsing all the ‘You will never’ lies in my mind. I was convinced that God was very disappointed with my performance. Slow and steady had become a full stop!
Then one day God broke into that dark place with razor sharpness while I was doing a very usual task at work. He put a sermon in front of me that cut through all the lies, all the disappointment, all of my steady ways, and turned me completely around. He arrested my stop and empowered me to begin to walk again.
That first sermon talked about how Jesus, on resurrection sunday, followed two disappointed travellers walking away from Jerusalem. The line I remember most vividly was; “What kind of God is this that will chase you down while your walking away!?!” Jesus never rejected me! In fact He was seeking me out! That message hit my heart, rooting His love into my heart. Real hope flooded in that day as God spoke process into my life. Yes, slow and steady is a good mantra, but it’s based on His steady, not mine. I was growing in trust, and that’s okay!
That was two years ago. This resurrection Sunday God gave me a deeper level of revelation of what kind of God He is that helps me to trust him even more. Jesus felt the same human pain that we do when he was rejected by everyone at the cross, and even more so because he was enduring darkness without God his Father at the same time. The key is that He endured the pain. He didn’t run away, he endured in faith knowing that Sunday was coming. You know what that means.. Jesus knows exactly how we feel when we want to run away from the pain. And He also knows what we need to persevere through it in faith. The cross leads us to Freedom. Freedom from our self made turtle shells of protection based on our own ways of staying steady.
The cross and resurrection of Jesus is a Freedom Gift! In addition to salvation, and peace with God, we are also given the mind of Christ and the Love of God poured into our hearts. Plus a ‘Never’ promise; that God will never leave or forsake us. All of this combined together for me to replace all those ‘you will never____’ lies with God’s never truth. A gift that empowers me to be able to ‘glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character, hope! And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-8 – A Secure Gift from a Loving God that we can trust with our whole hearts!
Do you have a ‘steady’ that God might be asking you to let go of for His Secure Gift? My prayer is that He would talk you through your life experiences and guide you into trusting Him more and believing His never over the never narration that plays overtime in your mind. Talk to him, he loves it when we come to him.. even in our turtle shell.