“Can a turtle climb a tree?”
The question haunts me at times as I think of trying to change on my own the habits, actions, and disappointments that I struggle with from time to time. Matthew 26:41 reminds me “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Then I come to the conclusion that against all impossible odds, that in Christ all things are possible.
This article today will encourage you that no matter what may be happening in your life, you can present your requests unto the Lord and He will deliver. The first step is admitting that on our own we cannot change without some help. 2 Corinthians 12:10 is a foundational verse for change: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Go ahead and admit it! This will be the beginning of the changes you want to make to become a new creation in Christ.
There is a question asked in the Bible: “Can a leopard change its spots? What does this really mean? A leopard is born with spots, that’s just the way it is. The gene pool of a leopard will determine the description and behaviour of all leopards. When you look up a picture of such a beautiful animal, you will see one with spots. Now what does this really mean for us? The Bible tells us that we were born in sin and shapened in iniquity. Metaphorically speaking, we were born with spots or stains so I ask, can we really change the way we were born, the habits we develop, the actions that bring us grief and the disappointments that trouble us to no end? Yes, we can change and it is because Christ came in to the world to save sinners.
We approach the season of Easter and we see people like King David crying out in pain to the Lord. Read Psalm 51 for yourself in its entirety. David had just committed adultery with Bathsheba another man’s wife and now the prophet of God in the person of Nathan was standing before King David exposing David’s sin.
David cried: “Have mercy upon me, O God according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Can a leopard change its spots? David proved that no matter how far he had sunk in his sins, he knew that the beginning of change and restoration was to admit his moral failures and cry out for forgiveness. Isaiah the prophet reminds us that: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Jesus Christ) the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) There is a way out of our dilemma and that is through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. He has provided a way of escape from the sins that bind us. In the New Testament, we read the words of the Apostle Peter when he says: “Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” 2 Peter 3:14. We ask for His forgiveness and then we make every effort to change with Christ’s help. On our own, we cannot do it but only with Christ’s help can we be restored in favor with God and man.
There is a beautiful park in Largo, Florida and it is a place of refuge for birds that have been injured in the wild-owls, hawks and eagles, great birds of prey. The park is within a good bike’s ride from where we are staying in Largo, Florida. When I am troubled over certain issues and need to have a good conversation with the Lord, that is the place to which I go on my bicycle. It is a quiet place of peace and tranquility.
Recently, while sitting beside the pond with many turtles of all sizes, I happened to notice that this particular turtle was perched halfway up a tree. Now grant you, the tree had a crook in it and that is where the turtle had found a resting place. Can a turtle climb a tree, I thought? No siree, that is impossible. Perhaps someone had picked up the turtle and placed it there in the groove. So I watched and waited. Slowly but surely that turtle began to move upwards. Turtles don’t climb trees, leopards are not supposed to change their spots as I said earlier, but here was this turtle climbing upwards away from his comfortable resting spot in the groove.
The climb continued slowly and the path became steeper. Against all odds, this turtle was proving the impossible. It climbed a few centimeters slowly treading its way upwards. I watched in anticipation but the pull of gravity was stronger and after climbing his own Mount Everest, the turtle then let go and plunged into the pond below. He had accomplished the impossible even if it was only a few centimeters.
“Therefore dear friends, said Peter, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” Can we change? In Christ we have the answer.
Fred Jeffery is a retired school principal and member of the Salvation Army.