Top 20 Countdown: Number 3 – Turtles and Gratitude

The most read articles in the brief history of these humble ramblings reaches number three today. Today’s topic reflects on why we expect something for simpy doing the right thing.

This morning I looked out in the backyard and noticed that adopted dog Hannah was vibrating. She usually only vibrates when she meets a new friend so I got a little curious. When I investigated I found that Hannah had “befriended” a box turtle that had somehow found it’s way through our fences and into our yard. The turtle seemed considerably less excited about the relationship with Hannah but he/she did seem to sense that the vibrating lab was, at worst, annoying.

A few minutes later I checked again on the turtle. The turtle had managed to fall into our pool and it was apparent that land turtles cannot swim. I looked for the leaf skimmer but we had attached the brush instead. In the meantime the poor little thing was flailing, stretching it’s neck as much as it could to break the surface, and it was clear the turtle was doomed without some help. So I jumped in and saved the turtle. I don’t want to overstate the case. I wasn’t dressed in an Armani suit with Italian loafers. I was just in shorts and a t-shirt. But I got pretty soaked in the waist deep water the turtle had fallen in. I put the turtle back on land and he simply crawled away. I dried off and wondered how many people in America rescue box turtles from pools on any given day. I might be the only one in the whole country today.

Later I reflected on the turtle’s response. Once I put him down he just went on his way. No thank you. No nod of his scaly noggin. Nothing. And I didn’t care because I didn’t rescue the turtle with any expectations that I would receive anything. It was just the right thing to do because one of God’s creatures was in distress.

That response made me wonder about some of my motives when I reach out to others. If I don’t receive a response I sometimes get perturbed. If there is not acknowledgement of my “heroics” I feel hurt or angry. When I simply do the right thing for one of God’s struggling creatures should I expect anything in return? What is my reason for helping others? I know the turtle was incapable of a response. Maybe some of the people we come in contact are nearly as incapable of gratitude at that point in their journey.

I liked the turtle’s response. He made me think about why I serve the Lord. Is for Him or for me? If it is for Him I won’t care if I do the right thing and the recipient just goes on their way. Solomon wrote this in Proverbs.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,
       when it is in your power to act.  Prov 23  NIV

So next time you do a kind thing make that your reward. Just representing Jesus and being His hands and feet on this planet is thanks enough.