The other day, as I was driving home, I had to swerve to miss what looked like a very large clump of dirt. As I slowed down to avoid it, I realized that the obstacle wasn’t dirt at all; it was a turtle!
For a couple hundred yards, I simply kept on driving, happy that I hadn’t hit the poor creature. Then I started wondering if someone else might hit him. The thought nagged at me. I had this horrible picture in my mind of what an automobile tire could do to that comparatively small reptile; it wasn’t a pretty thought. So, when I could bear it no longer, I turned around and headed back to see if something could be done for this animal who had clearly never learned what a road was.
As I crested the hill before the location of the turtle’s chosen crossing point, I dreaded what I might see. What if other motorists hadn’t been able to avoid the turtle in time? You can imagine how relieved I was to see that someone else had stopped and was pushing my little friend back into the grass.
I sighed happily (and felt a deepened faith in my fellow human beings). However, because I tend to be paranoid, I wondered if the turtle would simply re-attempt his dangerous road crossing mission.
Because I was worried, when I turned around in a nearby neighborhood I decided to park my vehicle. I got out, and started carefully picking my way down the shoulder of the road until I found my stubborn little friend. He had confirmed my fears and was 3/5 of the way across the road. As I stood by, waiting for a break in the traffic, I saw a vehicle drive by, attempt to swerve to miss Mr. Turtle, but still manage to clip him in the face.
Of course, my concern was piqued after that sight, and the first chance I got I took a stick and tried to push the turtle towards his destination. However, by now he was so upset that he just fought me, taking every opportunity to attempt to bite me. More oncoming traffic forced me to the side of the road.
Thankfully, these drivers saw what was going on and let me go back to my rescue attempt. It took a lot of creativity to get that stubborn, angry turtle to his destination, but I managed it as quickly as I could. Finally, the turtle was safe. (I was very thankful for drivers who noticed what was going on and managed not to hit me!)
That turtle got me thinking. I wonder how often stubbornness interferes with my own life.
My turtle friend had a plan in mind (crossing the road) that was clearly very bad for him. He stubbornly pursued it even when an outside force intervened to save him from his plan. On top of that, when help came to rescue him from the fact that he was being bruised and broken by continuing to pursue his plan, he fought that help. He fought the very things that, though confusing to him in the moment, were best for him. He was too stubborn to see that outside forces were actually interfering with his plans for his own good.
Granted, he was only an animal. I don’t expect advanced reasoning from him, or anything like that. But what about me? I can be a very stubborn, controlling person. I can be so convinced that the plan I have for my life is the only good plan. When my favorite plans face the chopping block, or have to be adjusted, I tend to react with anger or panic. I don’t like it when another plan invades upon my plan. But what if it really is for good? What if my plans aren’t what is best for me? It’s certainly food for thought.
I often can’t imagine what could be wrong with my plans. But then, my turtle friend was probably just trying to find a stream, doing what turtles do, and what could possibly be wrong with that? There’s no way he could know what a road is. He needed someone who knew a lot more about how the world works (e.g., how roads work) to help him out. I need someone with wisdom much higher than my own to help me out and see what plan for my life really is best for me. At the end of the day, I rely on my God to do this. It can be really hard to trust him when he clearly is saying things that I just don’t understand. But I hope that in time I will get better at listening…and bite at his hands less.