The other day, my oldest grandson, Chris, found a large snapping turtle huddled in the middle of a busy highway. Fearing for its life, Chris put the turtle into a box in the back seat of his car. When I saw the turtle imprisoned in that box, I could only imagine its fear and frustration. I’m sure it didn’t feel rescued, until Chris set it free in a nearby swamp.
“That turtle,” Chris said, “would have been killed. What did it see on the other side of the highway? What did it hope to gain by retreating under its shell? The cars would have crushed it.”
Often we’re like that turtle. We make decisions that take us into danger. Teens choose drugs or skip school because it sounds like a great time. Adults cheat on their income tax because they’re sure the government is wasting their money. We say yes to one more thing because we’re sure no one else will do it. We step out on that busy highway. We start across and the danger seems to come out of nowhere. We don’t have a shell to huddle in. What can we do?
Like my grandson’s turtle, we need help – compassionate hands to pick us up and carry us to safety. We cry out to God. The wonder of life is that God doesn’t zip past too busy to notice. God comes to us in our friends and in strangers. The difference is that we have the choice. God has created us with free will. Therefore, God stands there, arms reaching out to us. God searches for a crack, even just a weak spot, deep, deep down in the most reluctant soul. God seeps in and carries us to safety. Like Chris, God sets us free to try again. Regardless of the foolishness of our mistakes, God is always there, loving us, ready to give us a new beginning.
“There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Matthew 15:7)