Snapping Turtle Grace

“Do you like it here?” I asked my 17-year-old daughter. We were in New Orleans for a few days on a college tour.

“Yes,” she said. “I do.”

The light in her eyes told me it was true. IMG_7122

“I couldn’t do it,” I said. “I couldn’t live in the city all of the time.”

Memories of the mentally ill man, clothed in rags who was eating potato chips off the sidewalk, and the desperately neglected boxer puppy we had seen that morning were still haunting me.

My daughter sighed.

“If it were up to you,” she said softly, “you would give all of our money to the homeless and bring home every stray puppy.”

I am a sucker for the downtrodden, the weak and the vulnerable, I suppose. Just this morning, I spotted a turtle in the road and my first impulse, as usual, was to stop to pick it up and move it safely to the grass on the other side.

But not this turtle. You see, this country girl hardly even needed to slow down to see this was a snapping turtle.

credit: Emily Churchill
credit: Emily Churchill

I will stop for a box turtle just about every time but a snapping turtle? No thanks, the cost of that act of compassion would be a little too high for me.

 “Sorry, buddy,” I said as I drove past. “Good luck with that crossing.”

Then, the little voice in my heart whispered-

God would have stopped for the snapping turtle.

And I was reminded for, I don’t know, the thousandth time, just how wide the gulf is between God’s character and mine.

Even in my most tender moments, I measure worthiness.

“Are you good enough…safe enough, for me to risk getting hurt to offer you mercy?”

Without even considering the justice or righteousness of my evaluation, these are the decisions I make.

Not God. He formed the snapping turtle with the same tender intentionality as He did the box turtle. He reveled in the bite of the first with the same delight as He did the timidity of the latter.

And to all creatures- the lions and lambs, the sharks and the dolphins, 

the pit bulls and Matipoos, He shows the same loving, watchful care.

How much more to the sons of men?

His compassion, generosity, and lavish love extend equally to serial killers and nuns…

To the sweet little older lady from the gym who calls me, “honey” and to the hateful woman who cut me off in traffic yesterday.

He is not at all like me. Not at all.

And in this truth…I have hope.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people…” Titus 2:11 (ESV)

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5 Replies to “Snapping Turtle Grace”

  1. Great post on hope! First had to google a snapping turtle… do not think we get them in South Africa…

    1. South Africa! Welcome!

      Snapping Turtles are native to the southern U.S. I was always warned as a child that their bite us powerful enough to easily break a finger. My father had an old southern saying that one should never bother a snapping turtle because if he bit you, “he wouldn’t let go until it thundered.”

      Frightened me to no end.

      Have a wonderful day and thanks for stopping by!

      1. Haha, that would frighten anyone! Really interesting turtle.

  2. Wonderful post; forwarded to a friend whose husband studies turtles in the American Southwest, and we were talking about how we all stop to help turtles cross the road just yesterday!
    My husband, Paul’s, first visit from Australia years ago included a drive in the country. He saw a huge turtle by the roadside, asked to stop and see it; before any of us could shout a warning, he’d reached down to touch it. Big snapping turtle flipped itself backwards and up, almost caught his hand; boy fortunately had good reflexes and kept all his fingers! I’d forgotten about the thunder reference, which is a common saying in Midwest as well; thanks for the memories!

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