5 min read

The Giant Tortoise

The Giant Tortoise
For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made],… Romans 1:20

Day in and day out, all year long, God is speaking to us, sharing stories. Are you listening, do you hear Him?

The sun comes up and the sun goes down; how many people stop to think one day I may be in darkness, the harvest is over, and the winter has come, the soil gets cold and hard, and nothing grows. How many people stop to ask, is my heart cold and hard?

In thousands of ways God is talking to us by what He has placed in this world,  His creation, but we don’t always hear it or even see it. Through photography, a moment in creation is captured, and in that moment, I hope to present some of the stories God wants to share with us.

When photographing wildlife you must slow down, wait, watch and listen. I think we can all relate to that being “easier said than done “ and in full disclosure I am neither a real photographer nor a writer. Yet with a camera in my hand, I am willing to learn, willing to try, and together we might see and hear the stories God wants to share with us.

Our first story has its origin in the Highlands of Santa Cruz island, one of the many Galapagos Islands…

The Giant Tortoise

I recently had an opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands, which are a series of small volcanic islands located in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are known as, "a unique living museum" Its geographical location has three ocean currents that flow together making it one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.  The Galapagos islands were named for their giant tortoises, but the extreme isolation of these islands has led to the development of unusual plant, animal life, and a waiting adventure.

Traveling to the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island, we visited a protected reserve for the Giant Tortoise.  These tortoises really are giant, some can grow to be five feet in length and can weigh between 400-700 pounds!  The giant tortoise can live well over a one-hundred years in their natural habitat.  They are not known for their hearing or eyesight, but they have developed a keen sense of smell to sniff out delicious food.

The reserve was beautiful, with large, lush green pastures for roaming, ponds, and fruit trees, and on this day, we had a slight drizzle, which added to the feeling of stepping back in time. Oh wait, I forgot to mention along with the giant tortoise, we also enjoyed the baby Galapagos ducklings, many varieties of birds that I could not even begin to identify, and we also encountered the most well-know predator of all, "people."

Oh yes, people... I watched as a father who wanted the ideal picture of his young daughter, disregarded the 10 foot limit sign, and placed his daughter next to a giant tortoise. The young girl then quickly, picked up a branch and started striking the tortoise as the father stood by with amused laughter. Even though the tortoise is large and heavy, when stressed or frightened, the tortoise will retreat into his shell. This situation was quickly address, and the father and his young daughter were dealt with, but the damage was done, this poor, old tortoise remained hidden away in his hard shell for a very long time. In that brief moment I saw myself, I wondered, how many times have I retreated into my shell when people have been cruel, not wanting to come out, only to be laughed at.

Life at times is hard and people can be cruel, but God is still speaking to us. There will be times when we need to tune out the sound of mocking laughter and bring stillness to our aching heart… listen…listen… to the gentle voice of God as He has promised us:

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
   I have called you by name; you are Mine.
When you go through deep waters,
   I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
   you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
   you will not be burned up;
   the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43

Did you hear that? Read it again aloud. Let the words sink deep into your pierced heart, as it will bring a soothing balm to quiet the screeching pain. Read it again… slowly… aloud…softly. “Don’t be afraid…I have called you by name… I will be with you”

Fear can be paralyzing but God has instructed us, do not be afraid. Even though that may seem difficult, God assures us that He will be with us. God has called you; will you choose to come up out of the mire…the wet, soggy, muddy ground…the bog you may be in? It is a choice! A choice only you can make. We miss so much being locked away in a hard shell.

Jesus often cried out with a passion in His voice and compassion that originated from deep within His heart, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Day in and day out, all year long, God is speaking to us, sharing stories. Are you listening, do you hear Him?

When we listen…really listen, we will understand the need to come out of our shells, to put the fear behind us knowing that God cares for us. How can we be sure that God cares you may ask? God has called us by name, it is personal, you are not alone, through Jesus, He has made a way that no man can make. God has called, will you come?

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is take that first step, but you won't be alone, Jesus is waiting for you, arms open wide.  

Come… come just as you are! No matter where you are, no matter who you are, He is calling you.

I chose, not only to come out of my shell, but...

   ‘I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back”

The story is short, just a moment in time, but the story is true.

Jesus said, the truth will set you free, and the opposite is also true; if you believe a lie, it will bind you. Are you bound today? What lie are you believing? Replace the lie with the truth! Take that first step, I am here cheering for you also!

God put it in writing, just for you!  :)

      I have called you by name; you are Mine.