I’ve never seen the movie, and I’m not terminally ill, but I do have a bucket list. I hoped to accomplish one of the items on my list this summer while on vacation at the beach.
For years I’ve been fascinated by Loggerhead turtles. I’ve walked past their nests. I've seen volunteers inventory nests after they hatch, but I’ve never seen a live Loggerhead.
Edisto Island, our favorite beach retreat, is a mama turtle’s paradise. How could one resist the soft sand, low traffic, and turtle-savvy population of the island, I wondered. This year I was determined to do everything I could to see a mother turtle lay her eggs.
Strolling the beach the first afternoon, I spotted nest after nest high on the dunes. Cordoned off with fluorescent orange tape, the neatly labeled nests were proof that the turtle patrol had been hard at work.
“I’d really like to see a turtle come ashore and lay her eggs,” I told one of the volunteers. “When would be the best time to walk the beach?”
“Oh, they lay any time after dark,” she said. “We’ve had reports of nestings at 10 p.m., midnight, three a.m. It’s hard to say. ”
The first night my husband and I walked down to Beach Access #9 an hour after sunset and turned toward the pier. The moon was a huge silver spotlight hanging low over the ocean, directing our path and illuminating the shoreline. A cool breeze was blowing, and the sand was hard-packed and smooth. We made the two-mile walk easily. We didn’t see a turtle, but we thoroughly enjoyed our walk.
The next night we headed down to the beach at midnight. The moon was again full and bright. Although we were tired from a long day of sun and sea, the breeze was gentle, and the walk was easy. We walked in the opposite direction on the beach from the night before, but still, no turtle.
|Photo credit Carlos Rios|
The final night of our hunt, we awakened spontaneously at 3 a.m. Since we knew we’d have the luxury of sleeping in, we decided to walk down to the ocean. This is the night. I thought. I KNOW we’ll see a turtle this time.
That night, however, it was pitch black. No moon shined to light our path. Because it was considerably later, the tide was high, rising almost to the footings of the beachfront houses. Squeezed between the splashing waves and the dunes, we had to walk on soft, squishy sand, guided only by the light of my cell phone. A strong breeze blew, pushing against us as we slipped and struggled.
At one point, the bank gave way, dumping us in a sandy heap on the damp shore. The two mile walk to the pier and back seemed much longer than it ever had. Where’s the moon? It’s so dark I couldn’t see a turtle if I stumbled over her. Why is this sand so difficult to walk on? Why does the pier seem so far away? All of a sudden, turtle hunting wasn’t fun, or exciting, or even pleasant. It was hard work.
When we left Edisto without seeing a Loggerhead, I thought about the spiritual parallels between finding turtles and finding God.
Some days, like the first two of our search, seeking God is easy. The cool breeze of pleasant circumstances blow, the light of insight shines brightly, and the spiritual path ahead is level and secure.
Other times seeking God is more like our third day. There is little spiritual light to guide my path, no level terrain for my pilgrim's feet, and no protection from the winds of opposition. I slog ahead, wondering if there is any reward waiting for me.
The good news is, unlike my elusive turtle, God wants to be found.
“You will seek me and find me,” God says, “when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
And “ . . . anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).
I don’t know what you’ve done recently in your search for God, but I have a few suggestions. I promise—if you follow them, you’ll be much more successful at finding God than I was at finding a turtle.
1. Begin with God’s Word, the Bible. This love letter from God is the primary way he reveals himself to us.
2. Read it with an open mind.
3. Ask yourself, What does this passage tell me about God? Write down your answer.
4. Pray and ask God to reveal himself to you, then watch for his answer. He may speak to you through the Bible, a pastor, a wise friend or godly counselor, or your circumstances. God even reveals himself through nature (Rom. 1).
5. Attend a church that teaches the Bible. One of the best ways to get to know someone is to spend time with their family. The church is made up of God’s children, and they’ll be glad to introduce you to their Father. If you need help finding a church near you, click HERE.
Despite my diligent search, the closest I came to seeing a Loggerhead turtle was her tracks. Thankfully, I’ve been much more successful at seeking the Lord. Over the last 30+ years, he’s been eager to reveal himself to me through the Bible, other believers, circumstances, and nature. I think you’ll find him equally responsive if you seek him with all your heart.
What about you? How has the Lord revealed himself to you? I’d like to hear your experience. Leave a comment below and join the conversation. If you’re reading by email, click here to visit Hungry for God online, scroll down, and leave a comment.