When we see a turtle on a fence post, we know someone put it there.
(A book was written with this title by Allen Emory)
Often Sally Jo and I have felt like turtles on a fence post, that God has put us into a particular situation “to do the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” Ephesians 2:10. It is easy to feel that what God created us to do are big, significant, and important as vocationally we have gone from one challenge to the next, seeking to do God’s work in each place. We have been useful to God and to His people! We have come to realize that what we have been able to do has been because God prepared us for the work He had us do. God has given us the privilege of Living In Partnership With HIM. What God has given Sally Jo and me the opportunity to do has been a good match of ability, training, and responsibility. We have not been forced to take on any challenge – the choice has been ours.
It is easy to think that we are only turtles on fence posts when we have the opportunity to do something “significant” – or perhaps “significant” in the eyes of the world, even if just the Christian world. I am increasingly realizing God probably puts us on fence posts much more frequently than we think. God puts us into situations because God has work for us which is important to God, though it may be insignificant in the world’s eyes, even to those within the Christian community.
What else could Jesus mean when He says “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42
This morning I walked into the convenience store and saw an elderly woman leaning over, trying to pick up two quarters she has dropped. She just couldn’t do it! I picked up the quarters and handed them to her…and received a smiling “thank you”. Then with sadness, “I just cannot do that any more.” I had brought a cup of water to an elderly, frail woman who obviously had very little of this world’s goods. I could have turned the other way. I had a choice to make. I believe I was a turtle on a fence post, placed there by God, to do His work.
When I totaled the Prius, the first person to my car window was Ralph Souza, a Deerfoot dad. He had no clue who was in the car. In our lives at that moment he was the turtle on the fence post and he chose to let God lift him off the post to do the work that God had prepared for him to do. God put Ralph there for us. Ralph was ready to bring the cup of water, regardless of who was in the car.
When we were ready to move into the Bakerville church parsonage, Bob was the turtle on the fence post when he produced enough cash for the COD bill the mover said we must pay before he would unload the truck (Bob held gambling pool for the people at the factory where he worked). Alice was the turtle on the fence post when she came to the 150 year old parsonage day after day to help Sally Jo clean, paint, and wallpaper. Chris was the turtle when he played beautiful music for a very small, but growing number of people each Sunday morning. John was the turtle when he showed up at our doorstep with a gift of $1,000 for Sally Jo and me when our money was literally used up.
When we Live In Partnership With God, God delights in using us to meet the needs of others. May we be delighted when we realize that God has used us to meet the needs of others.
We will go crazy if we think God wants us to “take care of” every need we are aware of! We will live in peace when we take the time to sort out the needs God would have us meet from the needs others would have us meet. Our time, strength, ability, and other resources are limited. May we never shirk the impossible looking tasks we believe God has given us to do. May we never shrink the small, humble tasks we believe God has given us to do. May neither pride nor fear control me, not if I Live In Partnership With God!