Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sea Turtles & Watchful Waiting



On my morning walk, I saw a 40-something man and woman jump out of their beach patrol van and run to the sand dune about 500 yards from shore. They were checking a sea turtle nest.

May to October is sea turtle season on the Atlantic coast of Florida. This is the time when the mamas come ashore to lay their eggs, and Floridians takes this sea turtle stuff very seriously. Volunteers carefully mark and protect each nest, putting wooden stakes in four corners around the perimeter, securing it with a line and a stern warning sticker – not to disturb the protected nest.


Almost every day, you will see volunteers trekking up and down the beach stopping to check each and every nest on the miles of shoreline. They’re looking for any damage (there are laws against disturbing the marked nesting zones), and they set up new markers when beach goers call in a sighting.

They’re waiting.

Waiting for those babies to hatch.

When they hatch – it is amazing. The little babies flip forward on the vast expanse of sand, following the moonlight into the ocean.


For that reason, the homes situated on the beach are not allowed to have any exterior lights beach side during those summer and fall months. They don’t want to confuse the babies.

Now, I’ve yet to see a sea turtle hatching. But I’ve seen video capturing the event – and it’s the cutest thing ever.

And you can’t help but admire the diligence of those sea turtle volunteers. They are so faithful day in and day out. They are motivated by the knowledge that the hatching turtles could appear at any moment…and they want to be ready.

When I was little girl, growing up in the 1970's in a Baptist church, we talked a lot about waiting and being ready. The Rapture was a favorite subjects for us Baptists who believed that – at any given moment -  Christ could return and we would be caught up to meet the Lord. Some of the Rapture-talk, especially the eerie apocalyptic film Thief in the Night, made waiting seem an awful lot like dread.

But in Titus chapter 2, Paul has something else to say about waiting on the Lord's return:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (2:11-14)

Scripture tells us that we do not know the hour or day when Jesus will appear, but we are promised that He will indeed come again, and we are to wait, not with dread or fear, but with hope!

We’re supposed to be a lot like those sea turtle volunteers. Waiting with expectancy. Being assured of what will come gives us reason to say "no" the things that are bad for us, and to say "yes" to what is upright and godly.

One of these days, I do hope to catch one of those baby sea turtles wiggling its way toward the water. But, of course, far greater is my anticipation of Christ’s return. So I will wait faithfully, not with dread, but with this type of energetic, expectancy for the blessed hope that could appear at any moment.

What a joy-filled day that will be!



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Power in the Blood


Remember those thick, crusty scabs you would get as a kid? My skin-the-knee-years were in the early 70s, and I would often return from a wobbly bike ride with my knee scraped and bloody.

Tears streaming down my face, I would park my purple, banana seat bike – with its white flower-covered plastic basket, in the driveway and burst into our ranch-style suburban house in search of my mom. She would get the “cure-all” basket out of our bathroom, wipe the dirt off of my injured knee, and apply Merthiolate (the pinkish liquid applied with a dropper) to my cut, blowing on it to soothe the sting.

But the days afterward weren’t pretty either. The scrape would scab over. And it was hard to resist picking at its itchy ugliness. Blood, I learned, was not my friend.

Not only did I fear blood, I was terrified of any sort of injury. A safety first child, I dreaded gym class and even opted out of outings to the toboggan hill or roller skating rink. Blood and fear were forever linked in my mind. Self-protection became my mantra.

For me, safety was found at home and at church. First Baptist of South Holland was a small, sturdy, Dutch congregation with salt-of-the-earth suburban families. We liked to camp and potluck (both relatively safe and injury-free activities). And we really, really liked to sing.

My dad was the piano player in our small congregation, and he played that instrument with gusto. Visitors would remark that my dad was the Jerry Lee Lewis of Baptists, and they were right. In fact, if you looked beneath the piano, you could see an indent in the beige linoleum right where he would tap his foot in time to the music.

Once a month, on Sunday night (yes, we went to two services) we had choose-your-own-hymn night. My best friend’s dad, Mr. Aarup, would lead singing. And I was always ready to request one of my favorites: “There is Power in the Blood.”

Written in 1899, by Lewis E. Jones (who happens to be a very early Moody Bible Institute grad!), the song had an upbeat tempo for its somber lyrics:

“There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r,
In the blood of the Lamb.
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r,
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”

Now, I have to wonder why a 10-year-old girl – especially one so fearful of injury - was deeply in love with this particular turn-of-the-century hymn. The music was rollicking, but the words were somber. I was singing about blood, after all. The thing I feared the most.

Nevertheless, I would sing the chorus with gusto, an odd juxtaposition of my childish enthusiasm and the painful, impactful reality of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus bled. He hurt. He suffered. His red, thick, sticky blood was no different from the stuff that scabbed over on my knobby knee.

But Jesus’ blood did much more. His blood paid my debt and guaranteed my future. Christ’s blood freed me from doubt and guilt and fear. His blood was indeed filled with “wonder-working pow’r.”

No wonder I felt such freedom when I sang those words. His power became mine as well. This kind of blood was not the type I feared. It was rich and healing and life-changing!

“Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.”

That hymn still speaks to me today, some 40 years later. I may still feel like that wobbly 10-year-old girl with bloody knees, but I cling to the powerful truth that my sins are covered by “the precious blood of the Lamb.”