Today I am leaving paradise to return to my normal life. Since I still need to work for a living I knew this day would come quickly. An amazing week on Captiva Island, Florida with my lovely bride and great friends was soothing for the soul.
I was so soothed that I completely neglected the tens of readers for the week. I suspect the net results of that decision was summarized on Sunday by one of my favorite comic strips, Pearls Before Swine. The intellectual member of the gang, Goat, is looking dismayed. Resident cynic Rat asks him what the problem is and Goat responds that internet problems have kept him from posting his blog that day. Rat goes to window, looks outside, ponders for a moment and then announces this little bit of truth.
“And yet somehow the world goes on.”
I am sure the world went on just fine without pithy comments from your humble rambler. As I reflect on a week in paradise one memory keeps coming to mind. We were blessed to be on the beach when a couple of folks pulled up to a marked sea turtle nest one morning. To our surprise they began to dig into the nest. Having an inquiring mind I asked what they were doing. I learned that the eggs in this nest had hatched seventy-two hours earlier. These dedicated volunteers had marked the nest over fifty days earlier and monitored the site everyday since. Volunteers watch over hundreds of sea turtle nests each season. When the eggs have hatched the men and women dig up the nest, count the hatched eggs and also the eggs that did not hatch. An average nest contains about 120 eggs.
But what happened next amazed and inspired me. While digging deep in the nest the volunteer pulled up a struggling but very alive baby turtle. Moments later another turtle with legs flailing was brought to the surface after being buried in two feet of sand just moments earlier.
Our new friend Sam explained how this happens.
“When the eggs hatch the baby turtles climb on top of the other eggs and each other to reach the beach. These little guys missed the ‘elevator’ to the surface.”
I was amazed that they could breath for three days underground.
“They found pockets of air among the shells that kept them alive. Now we will keep them safe until tonight and we will release them into the sea. About one of one thousand will make it to adult hood. And if they do make it they will use a natural GPS to return from the sea to this spot to lay eggs.”
In an earlier blog I wrote that I often find sacred moments in unlikely places. This was one of those moments. Later I thought about the miracle of those two little turtles surviving despite very unlikely odds to at least get to the sea.
I thought about how it related to the message I tried (so far nearly anonymously) to communicate in my second book, “Bring’em Back Alive”.
That every believer is a precious part of Christ’s body. When even one is missing, the church lacks power and is less than whole. Whether we’re victims, perpetrators, or innocent bystanders we’re called by God to seek restoration. And when one of God’s sheep goes missing we have no choice: We must Bring ’Em Back Alive.
That message was demonstrated admirably by the sea turtle rescuers. Part of the survival of the turtles was related to their created will to live. But for those two particular baby sea turtles survival was entirely because two people cared enough to volunteer their time to pursue them. They cared enough to dig deep into the sand with no assurance of success. They cared enough to care for the babies and then give up more of their time to return to the sea that night to release the turtles to their destiny. And I suddenly felt saddened. Sad that really cool people like Sam will do that for baby turtles and that so many followers of Jesus can’t or won’t find the time to do that for fellow believers buried deep in the hole of despair and woundedness.
I was awed by the amazing drama of nature. Touched by the goodness of many people on this earth. And challenged by the thought that someone may be gasping for spiritual air today just waiting for me to care enough to dig a bit into their story and heart.
Today I am back to reality. Someday I will enjoy paradise that will make Captiva look shabby (what a thought!). But in the meantime I pray I will have a tender spirit that will seek, rescue and restore God’s wounded lambs with the same commitment that Sam and countless others rescue those plucky baby turtles.