Having lived in Florida most of my life, it is not uncommon when driving along to see a turtle lumbering across a busy road. I have always been impressed when I see a car pulled aside, flashers on and an individual heroically picking up the gentle creature taking it to safety in a nearby ditch or field. In all of my years I have not come across a scenario where I was the “First Responder” who would save the day for the distressed reptile.
Finally a few weeks back I was driving down a narrow rural road, it was a beautiful day and as I looked ahead I saw a shape in the distance on the other side of the road. At first I could not tell what it was, and thought it was debris from a fender bender, but as I got closer, I realized it was a large turtle slowly crossing the road and there was a car moving swiftly in its direction.
This was my chance to be heroic. I put my car into park put on my flashers and jumped out waving to the oncoming car. Yes, it was dangerous, but I was the “First Responder” and finally I was going to get to save the day. I ran up to my creature in distress and as I drew closer, I realized it was a large turtle, roughly the size of a small dutch oven. I had to move swiftly because the oncoming car drew nearer and I was concerned that a car coming in my lane might not see my flashers or me. This turtle was so big, I wondered how heavy he would be as I prepared to scoop him up in my arms and whisk him away to safety.
But then I came right up next to him, and stopped dead in my tracks with my jaw dropping to the asphalt. This adorable turtle I was heroically going to save, had a hideous head and a ferocious looking face, his legs and tail were spiked like a dinosaur. It was a very large Alligator Snapping Turtle. Ugh!!! It was hideous ugly and looked fierce. So now my excitement over rescuing this creature waned and I instantly considered leaving it be and jumping in my car and heading homeward. But I knew that if I did not act fast, the oncoming car was sure to run right over it.
I could not pick it up, it was so big and so angry, that it would have made a snack out of my fingers, so I used my foot to scoot it along. The prehistoric creature kept rearing up its ugly head in protest and digging in his spiked feet and legs, This really was not what I had in mind as my first rescue… There I was scooting along this angry and resistant Alligator Snapping Turtle, and all I can think of now is, “I sure hope nobody hits my car for this.” I moved the prehistoric looking creature to safety, with absolutely no assistance or appreciation from him.
I hopped into the car and headed on my way, pondering over the fact that I was much more excited about the idea of being a hero and saving a cute helpless turtle. Sadly, when reality occurred and the creature that needed my help was cantankerous, and even possibly dangerous, it changed the prospective ROI (Return On Investment) for me. There was much less glory in this rescue. I almost turned away and let the turtle take its chances with the oncoming car, simply because I did not feel comfortable based on its looks and attitude. I am not proud of that.
I thought about those people who cross my path in daily settings, such as work, neighborhood, church, check out lines, behind the wheel,etc. Some people can be challenging and cantankerous, and I find that my tendency is to avoid them at all cost. Jesus, came into a world full of complicated and cantankerous people, lumbering in the path of danger. He made Himself completely available to touch, heal and offer Words of Life and Love and the actual path for eternal rescue. Not once did He waiver or change His course and purpose for being here. He came to do His Father’s Will, to pay the price on the cross for our cantankerous and life threatening/condemning sins . He didn’t allow our unappreciative attitudes, or our snapping protests and our stubborn wills that cause us to dig in and resist His act of selfless love and heroism to keep Him from Heroically offering the Rescue. He loves us, because we are His creation and He longs to bring us into safety and so much more.
The day that I saved that hideous creature, I learned that Alligator Snapping Turtles are endangered species and in spite of his resistance and ugly demeanor he needed to be saved and there was no way he was going to outmaneuver that oncoming car on his own…..
At the end of the day I didn’t feel heroic, but rather humbled instead….