Friday, August 13, 2010

Lessons from a Turtle

The following is a story that happened to us a week ago with C.J.'s turtle "Tortilla" (Tor-til-a) (A combination of tortoise and tortilla!) Oh, and a big praise that our school books came in this week! Thanks for all who were praying for that!

The sermon really touched my heart that Sunday - what I could understand of it. The pastor talked pretty fast, and since it was in Indonesian, I could pick up about half of what he said. But one thing I got as he read the parables of Jesus from Luke 15: God's heart is broken over sin and for the lost. He longs for them to repent and return to Him, like the Prodigal son.

It was such a good reminder. You would think that serving overseas like we do, the lost would always be our chief concern, but having children, being involved in a technical ministry, and sometimes just growing preoccuppied with the things of our own life, sometimes I can just plain forget about the lost. Can you relate?

Since it was such a stirring reminder, that next morning, I read our boys the parable of the prodigal son from Luke 15 so they could understand the pastor's message. Then we prayed and asked God to give us hearts like His.

Later that mornign, I asked C.J. to take his turtle outside to get some sun. I got busy doing other things and so did C.J. We can both get distracted rather easily. About a half-hour later I asked, "Where's Tortilla?" "I dont' know," was C.J.'s reply.

"What do you mean you don't know? Weren't you keeping an eye on her?"

"She was right over there." He pointed to a place in the grass no longer occuppied by the turtle. Frustration brewed up in me. I had to run an errand and I didn't have time to look for a turtle!

Distraught, C.J. meandered around the yard, poking in corners and looking under coverings of dried-up bamboo leaves - but no Tortilla. Soon, he gave up and I found him sobbing in his room. "I've failed Tortilla!" he sobbed. "I lost her."

As I tried to negotiate the line between my parental irritation at his negligence, my disbelief that such a slow creature could completely disappear from our yard, and my frustration at needing to be somewhere else, my heart was touched by C.J.'s absolute brokenness over his lost turtle. I felt the Lord whisper, "Just stay with him for a while." After asking internally for God's direction, I urged C.J. to not be too hard on himself, but to call his friend who knew a lot about turtles, and ask him if he had any advice about where to look, and to pray that he could find Tortilla.

While C.J. was doing that, I grabbed a flashlight and decided to try my luck (even though it's not luck) at looking underneath the house. Logically, it's the only place she could have gotten to in the amount of time that C.J. had left her on the grass. I headed down the cement steps that went to the carport below the house. From there I could shine the light into the dark crevace taht was underneath the house. And there, sure enough, though I only swher because she stuck her head out, was Tortilla, the now naughty turtle who had run away.

"C.J.!" I cried excitedly, loud enough so he would hear me from the house, "I found her!" C.J. tore out of the house and down the stiars - smiling from ear to ear. We rejoiced together. It was only then that our prayer from that morning rushed back into my mind. "C.J.," I said thoughtfully, "I think God just gave us an object lesson so we could experience how it feels for him to miss the lost like in those parables of Jesus."

"C.J. thought for a moment. "Maybe so, Mom."

"Are you glad to have your turtle back?"

"Oh, yeah!"

Once Tortilla was returned to her cage, we had a new appreciation for the silly creature, and a gentle reminder from the Lord about his love for the lost.


  1. What a great lesson! So glad you found Tortilla again CJ!!! Love Cassie

  2. Hey, WHat a great story, and object lesson. Gabriel will really like that one. Isn't amazing how God uses those things to teach us farther and deeper than we could imagine. Good for you to be "Listening" and sensitivie enough to pick up on it.

  3. Isn't God so amazingly personal?! Love the name Tortilla. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this lesson. I'm going to have the girls read it, too!