turtles emerging from sand to light

Turtles and Light

In Faith Lessons by Tommy ThompsonLeave a Comment

Experiences, particularly out-of-the-ordinary experiences teach us life-long lessons.

That summer many years ago when our family witnessed the hatching of a large nest of loggerhead turtles, the impressions left behind sank deep. The ranger in charge told us what we would witness as we waited for the turtles to hatch. She explained that turtles are born with an instinct that draws them to light. As soon as the turtles are born and reach the surface of the sand they move towards light. Since they are always born at night, the crashing white foam of the waves attracts them to the sea where they belong.

In this instance, a competing light presented a problem for the turtles. Behind the dunes were large high-rise hotels with large spotlights on the side of the buildings pointing to the water. The ranger knew this conflicting light might confuse the turtles. Sure enough, many of the baby turtles immediately turned towards the hotels and certain death as they emerged.

We positioned ourselves behind the nest gently turning back turtles that strayed to safety. The light from the hotel was blinding so we blocked the light as best we could. This helped redirect the turtles toward the water.

We live in a world of competing lights luring us to their glory.

Lights of material possessions sing that we will be happy if we only buy the “next big thing.” No matter how much we already have, we are assured that one more thing will finally make the difference. The new car or phone or fashion gives us an immediate burst of excitement that fades so fast. Lights of popularity draw us to more likes or friends promising that this will satisfy our longings. The true light of real relationship that takes time and involves risk gets lost in the glare. Lights of never-ending achievement and accomplishment lure us to overload our schedules and sacrifice what is really important.

The unfortunate reality is that sometimes the competing lights are initially brighter than the lights which bring life. The other problem is that we are all caught in the same riptide current. In this state, we do not easily recognize that we are even in a current. We seem normal and balanced because we are the same as everyone else. I fear that only in retrospect will we realize how artificial those competing lights really are.

Like those baby turtles, we were meant for light.

The other lights only become problematic when they distract us from the real light. The true light, faith in God who deeply loves us, friends who we share life with face-to-face, and an identity rooted firmly in being a child of God, shines when the other lights have faded.

What competing light are you susceptible to? What temptation lures you away from the only true source of peace and joy? Isaiah asked the question this way and then invite as to the better way, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare” (Is 55:2)

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