My wife and I recently visited relatives in Southern California.
We had a good time as expected and spent one day at the San Diego Zoo (which is one of my favorite places).
This time we had the opportunity to view the giant pandas, the black jaguar and some newly-discovered pigs from a remote area of Paraguay, near the border with Bolivia.
However, perhaps the most interesting animal we observed during our vacation was not in the zoo, but at the home of a relative in the community of Mission Viejo.
As well as a friendly dog, we were also introduced to a relatively new pet a tortoise named Herman which the veterinarian recently told them was about 110 years old.
he veterinarian said it was the oldest turtle or tortoise he’d seen.
The tortoise was surprisingly healthy and devoured a huge plate of shredded carrots and lettuce in a matter of moments.
Some tortoises can also run very quickly, I discovered.
I thought about how much has changed in the last century.
When Herman was born there were few cars, no planes, no radios, no televisions, no toasters, no microwaves, no recorded music, no internet.
His world at the time he emerged from his egg was nothing like our world today.
The horrors of two world wars – with collective casualties of perhaps 75 million people (military and civilian) – had not yet occurred.
The tortoise also caused me to reflect on my own life and how I can be remarkably consumed by the inconsequential, and the transitory.
Much of what I think about and do involves possessions and short-term activities.
I enjoy reading about the latest model of automobile, so I subscribe to Car and Driver magazine.
Travel is an interest my wife and I both have so we often discuss a “dream trip” or somewhere we’d like to go for a weekend.
We watch movies from time to time and enjoy a mystery or foreign film that gives insights into a different culture.
But, of course, the car that is fascinating will soon be passé; the trip will be barely remembered, and the movie will eventually be on sale on DVD for a dollar at a garage sale.
Considering my life in the context of the 110 year existence of the tortoise both humbles me and confronts me – a “reality check.”
The Bible talks about this: “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.”
Yes, we’re just passing through! As a bumper sticker I saw recently says: “Just visiting this planet.”
Do you, too, find yourself preoccupied with the trivial? Do you long for a life that is filled with meaning and purpose?
Perhaps you are familiar with this Bible verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not die but have everlasting life.”
God sent Christ to die for you personally for all the evil you have ever done. (The Bible calls this sin.)
Christ – who was perfect – accepted death on a cross, and rose again for you.
Why not receive God’s love for you? Why not surrender your life to him through Christ? Accept his forgiveness and “come clean” today.
And, yes, the world has changed significantly since Herman the tortoise was born, but for then and now, we still need to have an enduring sense of purpose, the peace and rest that only comes with a relationship with God through Christ.
Thinking about the life of a tortoise