I can’t really explain why I’ve always liked turtles, but I have. I never had one as a pet, much to my dismay. The story of the tortoise and the hare didn’t strike any particular chord with me. I can’t even think of a deep, meaningful reason why I love them now. I just think they’re cute and don’t want the sea turtles to die out.
When Alan told us of the existential crisis he had because of a turtle that came into his yard, I could relate. Not because a turtle has ever caused me to contemplate the meaning of life or it’s intricacies, but because other things have. Like feeling small and knowing the Creator loves me. Meeting people because of a turn my life took who I would never have met otherwise. Thinking about how delicate some ecosystems are. Hearing a song or seeing a movie I like and thinking about how lovely it is that God worked out all of history and time so that I could exist at the same time it does. We acknowledge that God is the God of everything, but we’re so rarely conscious of His work within details, seemingly unimportant timings, and fascinations.
Alan gave a wonderful sermon that, for me, all comes down to how masterful God is and us understanding how much He loves us through that quality. And all I could think of while Alan was preaching was Matthew 6:25-34.
Matthew 6:25-34 (NRSV) reads, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God So clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of it’s own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
This scripture appeals to me for a few reasons—the imagery, the diction, the comfort it provides. But my reason for using it here is that it demonstrates how in control of everything God is. The flowers, whether growing wild or under the watchful eye of a gardener, have God’s fingerprints all over them. He provides and cares for the birds. And He designed and created the very turtle that entered Alan’s yard and used it to change Alan’s world. Most of the time, we’re blind to how much God is actually around us. But when I read this scripture and spend time with it, I feel God’s presence so heavily that it’s almost like I could reach out and He’d be sitting right across from me. It becomes so clear that He’s in everything, even the air I breathe. He is the provision, the protection, and the glory of all creation, but how much more us humans whom He died to spend eternity with.
King David wrote in Psalm 8:3-6 (NRSV), “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.”
How much does God love us? He gave us everything. He made everything and then told us to look after it. He saw how lovely, how intricate all of creation was and then decided to make us, that we, of all creatures, would complete it. And after millennia of us collectively and consistently messing up, He still loves us most.
I won’t go into a lot of detail, but I’ve been struggling to identify my purpose in life for quite some time now. The one thing I’ve been able to hold onto is that I know I have a purpose even if I don’t know what it is, and that is because of God’s love. Because He created me to live where I do and at this time. Even though I feel like I’m in the dark about it, I know God knows what He’s doing, and I trust Him. I trust Him because He’s never failed me and because scriptures like these touch my soul in such a way that I can’t help but believe them and know His love for me.
In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (NRSV). Abundantly more than the birds who make music for us and lack nothing. Abundantly more than the flowers that don’t have a care in the world, that we give to those we care about. Abundantly more than even the turtles who find their way into our yards and are part of God’s plan. Abundantly more than life without a relationship with God. His love is as omnipresent as He is, even if we don’t notice it, and us not noticing it or understanding it does not diminish it. And that is the most beautiful thing of all.
By Carrie Prevette