During our recent trip to Queensland, Australia, we were privileged to participate in a turtle encounter at Mon Repos, one of the few nesting sites for the Loggerhead Turtle in the south pacific. After hours of waiting, we were blessed with a sighting of a female Loggerhead, coming onto the beach to lay her eggs.
What an important lesson she had to teach us all…
Though sea turtles don’t necessarily even move well on land, we could tell by the cumbersome way Mrs. Loggerhead shuffled and lumbered up the sand to choose her nesting spot that something was very wrong with her. The naturalist with our group explained that all four of her flippers had sustained significant damage at some time in her life, and he could only surmise that she had likely gotten tangled up in fishing net. Given the extent of the damage, it was his opinion that this particular she-turtle was lucky to be alive.
Her handicap obviously didn’t stop her, however. We could tell by the way she persevered in climbing the sandy beach, in carefully chose her nesting site and beginning to dig her egg chamber that she was a fighter. But being a “fighter” wasn’t enough. Given the extent of the damage to her rear flippers, there was no physical way she could dig an adequate egg chamber. It was necessary for the naturalist to creep up behind her and dig the hole in the sand for her.
Somehow she knew when the chamber was big enough, for she stopped digging and began depositing her 113 eggs. Then came the next challenge: How to cover the egg chamber! This required a flailing motion with all four flippers, and though Mrs. Loggerhead tried very hard to thrash and flap those damaged appendages, her efforts pushed only her farther and farther from the eggs. When she finally began the gruesome shuffle back to the ocean, the egg chamber was still completely uncovered, and the naturalist once again had to come to her rescue to care for the eggs.
I was in absolute amazement as I stood watching this significantly handicapped creature continue in the routine of life that God has placed in the instincts of every Loggerhead she-turtle. Even though everything was a struggle, she didn’t get discouraged or give up. How many of us would have persevered? Would we, like Mrs. Loggerhead, have done our best to carry on with our God-given tasks in life? Or would we have simply dismissed them? After all, wouldn’t God understand our obvious physical/mental/emotional/spiritual limitations? How can we be expected to do something that we are simply not capable of completing?
Herein lies the most valuable lesson I learned from Mrs. Loggerhead that night: It doesn’t matter if we are not physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually capable of completing our God-given responsibilities. Our job is to do everything in our power to carry them out. Then, just as that naturalist was there where her own efforts failed, God is there to pick up the slack, to give us the strength, to “dig” and “cover” when we cannot: “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is perfected in weakness‘…For when I am weak, thenI am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9a,10b NKJV)
Mrs. Loggerhead was a survivor. We are so often defeatists. Oh that we would learn from Mrs. Loggerhead! That we would NOT give in to our weaknesses, that we would keep on trying, ever trusting that where we fail, God will pick up the slack! Isn’t this what Paul was referring to when he wrote, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake…” (2 Cor. 12:9b-10a NKJV)?
What is it God is calling you to do?
Perhaps you already know and are doing it to the best of your ability. If so, then perhaps you have already learned Mrs. Loggerhead’s lesson.
But perhaps you feel too weak to complete what God has asked of you. You don’t believe you have enough time, enough patience, enough faith, enough physical strength and endurance, etc., to do it. If this is you, then you have two choices:
1. You can give in to your weakness and give up; or
2. You can follow Mrs. Loggerhead’s example and give it your best shot, ever trusting God to take over when you cannot.
Some of you may not know what God is calling you to do. They say that ignorance of the law is not an excuse, so if this is you, I encourage you to put aside your worry over your weakness and limitations and seriously seek God’s purpose for your life. Then, no matter how insignificant, incapable or incompetent you find yourself to be, follow Mrs. Loggerhead’s excellent example, ever knowing that God’s strength will be perfected in your weakness.
Don’t ever forget: “I can do everything though Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13 NLT)
There was one other lesson I would learn from Mrs. Loggerhead that night. Join us next Saturday for “Mrs Loggerhead”, Part 2.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Mrs. Loggerhead” mini-series, please click here.)