My younger daughter and I sat and stared in silence. It had been well over forty years since I’d seen the sight. For her, it was a first. It was a tiny, plain, unimpressive garage apartment, leaning and peeling with age. It was the place of my birth.
As the little South Texas town of El Campo faded in the rearview mirror, the contrast between my life in the mid 1930s and my life today stood out in bold relief. I blurted out, “I feel like a turtle on a fence post.” Startled, my daughter asked for an explanation.
I first heard this imagery used by Dr. Robert Lamont, a Presbyterian pastor who felt incredibly blessed by God. “When I was a schoolboy,” he said, “we would occasionally see a turtle on a fence post, and when we did, we knew someone had put him there. He didn’t get there by himself. That is how I see my own life. I’m a turtle on a fence post.”
The Bible is chock-full of turtles: one person after another who knew that his or her position of power, authority, or promotion was given by Another.
Joseph was a turtle. How often, in his Egyptian chariot or his opulent surroundings, he must have sat back, closed his eyes, and reflected on his humble beginnings. His jealous brothers. The pit. Slavery. Prison. Now this! What an incredible fence post! How faithful of God . . . how gracious!
Moses was a turtle. As leader of the Israelites, he surely awoke many a morning in the wilderness shaking his head in disbelief, remembering his murderous and monotonous past. How good of God to have put him on the fence post!
Gideon was a turtle. Remember his response to the angel when he was informed that he was to be commander of the Israelite troops? “Sir, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least thought of in the entire family!” (Judg. 6:15, TLB).
The next time we are tempted to think we’re self-appointed fence-post sitters, I recommend the prophet’s counsel: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug” (Isa. 51:1).
There’s nothing better for a turtle temporarily elevated on a fence post than to return to those humble roots. Remember the quarry from which you were dug, the strong determination of a mother who bore you and the quiet commitment of a father who cradled you through poverty, hardship, and pain. It’s enough to make you sit and stare in silence.
Think about your own fence post and then call to mind the quarry from which you were dug.
Do you have a position of power, authority, or promotion? Never forget that it was given to you by Another.— Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This