Luke 12:18-21 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

A few mornings ago I took an early morning walk. As I traveled my usual route, I noticed something ahead of me in the road. It just was daylight, and I could not make out what I saw. I see lots of different things in the road on my morning walks—squirrels, possums, skunks, raccoons, a variety of fast food containers, and beer bottles. However, the shape of this object was different. It seemed much too still to be a living creature.

As I drew closer, I saw a large turtle just beginning its journey across the street. By the shape of its shell and its movements, it seemed to be the kind of snapping turtle I saw around lakes in my boyhood days. A golf course pond was behind it—I assume that is where it came from. Who (but it) knew where it was going—on the other side of the road is the beginning of a very large hill with no lake or pond.

Suddenly, a strange drama began unfolding. Early morning traffic picked up. A couple of cars dodged the turtle, and other cars slowed down to make certain they missed it. Would the turtle live to see the other side of the street?

Several things occurred to me. Only the turtle knew why it was going. I am sure that to the turtle its journey made sense, but from any other perspective the turtle’s journey was just plain stupid. Second, the turtle did not have a clue about the danger it was in. In the blink of an eye, the turtle could go from very alive to very dead. Third, the turtle would regard any attempt to help it as an attack. I quickly thought better of my inclination to remove it from the road.

I realize how much we are like the turtle. We think we know what we are doing, but we don’t. We think we know where we are going, but we don’t. However, we are certain we must get there—until we arrive. Too often we regard any attempt to rescue us from danger we do not “see” with indignation. When we are determined, a caring act is perceived as a hostile attack. Too often we mistake our journey with life itself.

One of life’s essential lessons learned only with great difficulty: our journey must not consume our existence. Who we are is more important than where we are. If we take proper care of who we are, we avoid many predicaments. The nature of our journey is never as important as who we are. Where we are is important only when it affects who we are. Who we are impacts our eternal destiny far more than where we have been.

Oh, by the way, when I walked back by, the turtle was nowhere to be seen. Only it knows where it is and why it went—or maybe not even it knows.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 26 May 2005

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