Ted the Turtle

Jared picked up the baby turtle and ran into the house.

“Mom, look what I found!” he said breathlessly.

Jared’s mother inspected the turtle. It was about the size of Jared’s hand. “Hm, I wonder if it’s a box turtle.”

“Can I keep it as a pet, Mom? Ple-e-ase?”

She smiled. “Maybe we can try, since it’s just a baby. We have an old aquarium in the attic.”

Jared gingerly put the turtle in a box for safekeeping and ran to bring the aquarium down. He put mud, grass, and sticks inside. He filled a small bowl with water and imbedded it into the mud.

“Looks like a great turtle home, Jared,” said his mother.

Jared carefully lifted the turtle by the edges of its shell and set it inside the aquarium.

“What’s his name?” asked Mom.

Jared had been thinking about that. “Ted. Ted the Turtle,” he said. He stroked the turtle’s shell as it scrambled to the edge of the aquarium. It tried to climb the glass wall.

“Hey there, Ted,” said Jared, “you don’t have to try to get out. It’s nice and safe in here.” He carefully put Ted back in the middle of the aquarium, but Ted scrambled to the edge again. Jared and his mother went to the computer to look up information about turtles. Ted kept trying to get out.

Jared’s mother sighed. “I don’t think Ted likes his new home.”

“But why?” asked Jared. “I gave him all the grass and water he needs, and I’ll find all the food for him that he could ever want!”

“Yes, but he doesn’t care about that. He just wants to be free. We better let him go, or he’ll die trying to get out. He’s been trying all afternoon.” Mom put her hand on Jared’s shoulder. “I guess he’s still a wild turtle.”

Jared knew his mother was right. He felt a tear form inside the corner of his eye. He had been so excited to have a new pet, but he didn’t want Ted to die. He picked up the turtle one last time and brought him outside. Mom followed.

“Ted reminds me of the wicked world,” Jared’s mother said. “You made a good home for Ted to live in, and God makes good commandments for people to live in. But the wicked are like wild creatures. They don’t want to live in God’s commandments. We’re like that in our old man too, but—”

Jared’s eyes widened. “But God doesn’t let us go, like I let Ted go, does he?”

“No, he doesn’t let us go,” Mom added. “God has made us to be new creatures in Christ. Then we do want to obey his commandments. We never obey perfectly because of our old natures, but we still want to.”

Jared thought about what his mother had said as he watched the turtle slowly toddle away and disappear into a patch of tall grass. It was true. He sinned so much—but he wanted to obey. He truly did. He loved God. God had given him that love.

* * * * *

     “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:2-4).