Braking my bike, I noticed that recent rains had elevated the level of the pond on the left side of the road and the swamp on the right, so that they were now nearly conjoined, separated only by eight feet of black ribbon road.
And there, on the hot asphalt swatch betwixt the two watery worlds, a turtle was determinedly marching.
I use that word, marching, intentionally, because this little fellow wasn't plodding, or poking, or loitering, as turtles tend to do. He was rhythmically lifting those squat spotted legs high and forward so that his his heavy shelled body was pushing forward at an impressive pace. For a turtle.
Since my bike route is rural and there were no cars coming at the moment, I stopped for a spell to watch the little guy, wondering where he was going in such an all-fired hurry. His shell was mottled with green slimy algae, indicating that his usual abode was likely beneath the surface of the waters in either the swamp or the pond.
It occurred to me that he was out marching on foreign midday asphalt this fine day for one of three reasons:
- He was running away from something
- He was running toward something
Now not to wax too anthropomorphic, but I thought I detected in his resolute trek down the yellow line a trace of excitement. It's adventure then, I thought. I'll bet he's never been out of Water World before. This is his first chance to see the big wonderful Earth and he's making treks before the water recedes and his opportunity is gone.
But he was in the highway. The highway. Where cars and trucks and mini-vans run over and crush flat little adventurous turtles. And wouldn't you know it, at that moment, a green pick-up appeared in the distance, heading our way.
I tried to herd the fellow over to one side of the road, but when he saw big lumbering me, he instantly closed up shop, retreating head and legs into the protection of his shell.. There he sat in the middle of the highway, thinking that he was safe from harm, not realizing his shell was no match for the two-ton vehicle of steel and chrome that would soon be bearing down on him.
So I quickly ditched my bike in the shallow water on the pond side of the road and picked him up, holding that hard place beneath the shell between his front and back legs. His head shot out immediately, snapping at me, and his legs began furiously scratching at my hands. But I hung on long enough to place him in the murky waters of the edge of the swamp, where he splashed away until he reached waters deep enough to glide beneath and disappear.
You know, I think I'm like that turtle in some ways. I need a good reason to take advantage of the opportunities presented to me, because I'm way too comfortable in in my own little Water World. And when I finally do venture out of my comfort zone into the unknown, I tend to march off without a clue of my destination.
I don't know where I'm going, but I'm sure in a hurry to get there.
At the first hint of danger, I crawl into my shell, where I perceive I'm safe, without realizing there are a whole lot of things that I know nothing about in this wide, wide world that could cause me harm.
And that's why dependency on Papa God is so important. He has a much broader view than I do. I must learn to trust Him to pick me up and move me to where I need to be, even though sometimes I snap at His fingers and try to scratch my way out of His grasp, not seeing that His intervention is for my own good.
How about you? What's your motivation for marching out your comfort zone today? Are you looking for adventure, running away from something, running toward something, or maybe just sitting in the middle of the road in your shell?