Many summers ago, I was on vacation with my family in Florida and happened on an experience I will never forget. On the beach, in front of where we were staying, a ranger had marked off an area. The area marked a large nest of baby loggerhead turtles was waiting to be hatched. The ranger had monitored the area around the nest for weeks and knew that the baby turtles would hatch at night within the next few days. Each night we would go out with several other families hoping to see the hatching. The first night we stayed out until after midnight, sure that the time was at hand, but nothing happened.
The eggs of baby turtles are buried by the mother under the sand to prevent predators from reaching them. After she buries the eggs the mother turtle goes back to the water. Each nest holds about one hundred eggs, with each baby turtle smaller than the palm of a hand when hatched. Additionally, when they hatch, they all hatch at once and claw their way through the sand to the surface. In a matter of less than a minute, an explosion of baby turtles emerges from the sand.
Although I would not normally consider myself as the type of guy to watch a turtle nest for hours on end, I became completely engrossed in the drama of the baby turtles.
On the second night, we waited for hours. At times we were talking, other times crouched down with our ears to the sand listening for any possible activity. When the turtles finally erupted from the sand, they began to make their way inch by inch to the water. I was completely awestruck and speechless. The only thing that mattered was the survival of those tiny turtles. It was a special kind of joy that I felt that night, kin to the joy of the birth of a child.
As I reflected, it struck me that God feels a similar kind of joy and ache as He watches over us.
God is not a passionless judge applying the rules of life to each one us. Moreover, he’s not looking down on us giving us what we deserve when something bad happens. Jesus said that a huge celebration in heaven occurs every time one of us turns to Him.
After the turtles were born and had made their way to the water, about thirty of us stood there in the sand for a long time and marveled at what we had just witnessed.
He watches our every move, much as we watched for the tiniest movement in the sand before the turtles hatched. He celebrates our trust in Him just as we celebrated the safe passage of the turtles that night. What a great God!