Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
On the way home this morning to write a very different column, a turtle turned it into this column instead…
I do not know exactly what it is about rain that makes them gravitate into the road, but out in the country where we live, it is a pretty predictable thing. What is equally predictable is that, by the time the rain has finally moved out, some of those turtles will have been run over by vehicles, ending their “shell-tered” lives. Go ahead and groan, if you must; I have fully embraced dadness and the dad-jokes that come from it.
Anyway, as is normally the case, when I saw the turtle, I did not even realize what it was until I was already completely past it. This, of course, necessitated me driving a ways farther, finding a place to turn around, and going back to rescue it. That kind of duty can no more be shirked in the country than the duty of guys in four-wheel-drive trucks (of whom I am one) driving around with chains in the back looking for people to pull out of the ditch during a snow or ice storm.
To leave a turtle in the road to die just isn’t done. We are “Turtle Rescue Special Ops.”
Now, by contrast, there is another creature commonly found in the road ready to be run over, and that is the common gray squirrel, or as I call them, “rats with a perm and a good press agent.” No one that I know of will ever be found turning a vehicle around to try and get a squirrel out of the road. Those things juke like Barry Sanders, accelerate like Usain Bolt, and bite like Jaws. In fact, having had a rather unpleasant encounter with my grandmother’s squirrel in my youth, I would actually rather face Jaws than try to grab a squirrel.
But I digress. The point is, both squirrels and turtles often end up dead on the road but for entirely different reasons and in entirely different proportions.
Squirrels have the ability (see above, “juke like Barry Sanders, accelerate like Usain Bolt”) to not get run over. If a person was to actually attempt to hit a squirrel with a vehicle, if that squirrel were clear-minded, it could simply not be done. But the fatal problem with squirrels is that, like a wife who has been asked “what do you want for dinner,” they normally cannot make a decision. And spare me the hate mail; you know it’s true.
Turtles, though, can make a decision. One never sees a turtle “juking.” A turtle picks a direction and goes that way. But though they can make a decision, they lack the ability to do anything about it when it comes to dodging the wheels of a vehicle. You can almost hear them going “Nooooooooooo!” in a low, slow voice as they slink into their shells, knowing they cannot move fast enough to dodge the incoming behemoth F-150 bearing down on them.
Because squirrels could help themselves but do not, and because they would hurt or humiliate anyone who ever did try to help them off of the road, no one bothers with them. They are regarded as God’s little speedbumps, an unfortunate testimony to the fact that the road of life is littered with things and people who could not make a decision.
But because turtles despite their best efforts cannot move fast enough to dodge the wheels of a vehicle, and because they neither humiliate nor hurt those who stop to help, people stop to help. They pick the turtle up, take a selfie with it, move it to whichever side of the road it was pointing towards, lecturing it lovingly along the way, “Stay out of the road, turtle; it is stupid and dangerous for you to be out here.” And then they hurriedly post their heroic deed on social media. This is generally good for a dozen shares, a couple of hundred “likes,” and some hearty slaps on the back for the rest of the day by the other “toxic males” in their lives who have likewise been out engaging in similar heroic deeds.
We could learn a lot from turtles, I think.
No one likes to admit that they are overwhelmed and in need of help. And people really do not like being told that they have done something wrong or foolish and not to do it again. But the wisest people you will ever meet are those willing to take correction and willing to receive help.
In 1 Samuel 17, David was young and strong and fought and killed Goliath. But in 2 Samuel 21, he was much older and nearly lost his life in battle to another giant of a man, Ishbibenob. His nephew, Abishai, had to rescue him from a situation he should not have been in to begin with, and then his men lovingly lectured him for his foolishness. David took it all well, and we never find him in that kind of a fix again after that.
If you are doing wrong, be grateful for parents, friends, pastors, co-workers, and others who love you enough to say so. They are some of the greatest and most unsung heroes you will ever know. If you are overwhelmed and have somehow gotten yourself into a situation you cannot handle or just been plunged into a bad situation not of your own making, be grateful for those who come alongside to help and be willing to take that help. Be willing, in fact, to reach out and ask for help.
Or you could just be stubborn and end up as one of God’s little speedbumps instead.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books and audio downloads are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature Photo By Pastor Bo Wagner and Karis Wagner