Where Can I Flee?


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I recently discovered something new as my forty-ninth birthday approaches: I like turtles.

Well, I can’t say that with 100% accuracy, but I can say that I like my turtle.  It’s the only one that I’ve ever had and the only one that I’ve ever observed for more than a passing second, but I suspect others are not that different.

My family re-gifted me this turtle last Father’s Day. It was given to my daughter by her teacher and my family thought it might be the perfect pet because turtles don’t bark much and seldom, if ever, poop in the yard. We named him  “Lord Sheldon,” figuring that renaming him was no big deal—after all, turtles don’t come when you call them anyway!

Lord Sheldon came with his own aquarium, all set up and ready to go. After a few weeks, we discovered that this semi-aquatic red-eared slider (Trachemysscriptaelegans) was female! So she received yet another new name: “Shelly.”

Shelly is indeed an awesome pet. She is fun to watch—swimming frantically at times and floating contentedly at other times. She likes to bask in the “sun” of the heat lamp, performing a variety of yoga poses in the process. (Right now she’s doing sort of a Superman pose atop her rocks!) She likes to wrestle with her submerged heater and she will viciously attack worms, bugs, or any other moving thing that enters her tank. When the water becomes too dirty for her liking, she will doggedly push the submerged rocks around until the tank is cleaned.

When startled, Shelly will run for the water as fast as she can possibly go—clanging awkwardly against rocks and belly-flopping into her tiny pool. Instinctively she knows that water gives her the best chance of escaping a predator. But Shelly really has nothing to fear. Even if a predator was capable of removing her aquarium lid and eating her, certainly a few inches of water would do nothing more than prolong her life by a few seconds.

Like a turtle, our instincts usually take over when we feel threatened. Some of us flee. Some fight. Some “turtle up” and pretend the danger doesn’t really exist. Imagine someone coming up to you and saying or doing something very unkind and hurtful—how would you react?

Dealing with adversity in our humanness is not that different from Shelly’s style. We can run…but not from His presence. We can fight…but with no real strength. We can retreat within ourselves…but we’re no less visible to God than the child who covers her eyes and says, “you can’t see me!” We cannot escape God and what Brennan Manning calls His “furious longing” any more than Shelly can escape her small aquarium.

So what are we to do? I recommend basking in the light, because the cold water of our humanity does not offer the protection that we think it does.

Bask. Maybe you’ll even feel like Superman for a while!

Where can I go from your Spirit? 
Where can I flee from your presence? 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
if I settle on the far side of the sea, 
even there your hand will guide me, 
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me 
and the light become night around me,” 
even the darkness will not be dark to you; 
the night will shine like the day, 
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:7-12


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There is 1 comment

What a great little story. You are super, man!!

butch nachbar
February 23, 2012 - 13:14
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