Maybe it was the coffee. Maybe it was being up since 3:30am. (Can anyone say “Gold Medal Game?”) Maybe it was sheer delight in God’s ways, but whatever it was, I was having a hard time keeping the giggles in at church on Sunday.
“A Turtle. You gave me a turtle, God!”
Not something I expected to be thinking about with a sermon on finances. Let me explain.
This is Sally:
Part of my job – really – is to tell you about Sally. Nothing personal, but the turtle speech gets old, so suffice to say, she is a turtle in my care 5 days a week.
She’s old, slow, and grouchy, but I’ve grown pretty fond of her.
Despite being peed on.
In public. Multiple times.
Seriously. Like a geyser!
(….Maybe I should wash that labcoat.)
But jumping back to church…
The sermon was on finances. The passage was about the master who went away, leaving his servants with bags of money.
Now, I think God is funny.
This was a sermon on finances. I was in a church full of business people. Nicely dressed families. It’s a sermon on wealth and resources – And what does God put in front of me?
I feed Sally twice a week. I used to love it. It took up a good chunk of time in a slow workplace. Now, 50-some feedings later, the novelty has worn off. The faces come and go. The questions are the same. Oranges and lettuce are a little lackluster.
But as I was challenged to identify things in my life that were given to me – things given for free, that I would be reluctant to give up – who came to mind… but Sally.
I almost laughed. I am not particularly attached to the turtle. It would be no problem to give her up!
She’s not even my turtle!
But that thought promoted little Liam’s face to show up in my brain.
“He’s been talking about Sally every day, Anna! He just LOVES her!” his mom told me this week.
“‘When can we see An-na and the Tur-tul?’ he asks!”
Liam is the youngest of four. His siblings come to learn about everything, but Liam comes for the turtle. For ten minutes one day, we sat simply and watched the turtle swim. Mesmerized, he could watch for hours.
The family visits on Thursdays, perfectly timed for turtle-feedings. The kids and I discuss Sally’s colours and her wide feet made for swimming. If they come on a non-feeding day, I try to bring her out for a walk, because Liam is so fascinated.
He calls her “An-na’s Tur-tul.”
I say “She’s not my turtle.”
But that turtle sure makes him happy.
And I can take the time. I can take out a turtle!
He feels special. His mom does too. By caring for him, I’m blessing her.
Sally allows me to love people.
As I sat in church and thought about gifts, I saw I have some cool ones.
And yes, they might bite. And stink.
Or even carry Salmonella.
But it seems God has given me a living, breathing, biting resource that enables me to meet and care for people I would never know otherwise. I have to ask myself if I’ve been using that opportunity to the best degree.
I think it’s time to embrace the turtle. It’s time to find ways to invest.