On thirsty turtles and living water

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By Jessica Brodie

We found him in the backyard of our house when we were doing a final yard cleanup before our move—a huge brownish-black turtle burrowed deep in the overgrown grass where my box garden had once been, so far in we couldn’t see him until we started pulling weeds.

“Whoa!” my husband yelped, and I jumped, expecting to see a spider or a snake.

The turtle was as startled as we were. I guess he’d wandered into our fenced yard when the gate swung open during a recent storm, and he’d been hiding out in that huge, treeless, sun-drenched square in the only place he could find shelter: what was now a garden of weeds.

My husband, who knows a thing (or twenty) more than I do about animals, scooped him up and carted him to the side of our house, where we turned on the water spigot.

Immediately, that turtle leaped into the water like he’d won the Turtle Lottery. He must have been so dehydrated from being trapped in our yard! When we checked on him an hour later, yard work done and weeds tied up tight in a plastic bag, he was still there, looking as happy as can be. Later, my sweet husband lifted him into the back of our car and we drove him to the neighborhood lake, where he galloped (as much as a turtle can gallop) straight in.

The turtle found his salvation—at least until the next time he goes hunting for food and winds up stuck in someone’s backyard.

That turtle reminds me of the Samaritan woman at the well. The Gospel of John shares the story of how Jesus, traveling to Galilee, stopped in Samaria and asked a woman at the well for a drink of water. The woman was shocked at his request, as Jews tried their best not to associate with Samaritans. Then Jesus told her if she only knew who he was, she would be asking him for water—living water.

“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?’” (John 4:11).

Jesus replied, “‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (John 4:14-15).

When I’m thirsty and forget to sip from my water bottle for a few hours, I can rehydrate by taking a long drink. But when that water is gone, I’ll need to find some more, otherwise I’ll be thirsty again.

When the turtle went hungering for more and got trapped in my old backyard, he almost died from dehydration. We took him back to the lake, but if he goes wandering off again, the same thing will happen.

But with Jesus, we don’t have to worry about deserted backyards or empty water bottles. When we surrender to the Lord and become His, we’ll never be thirsty again. Our souls are instantly quenched with His life-giving, eternal promise of access to God’s Kingdom, truly the only thing we need.

That’s the kind of thirst-quencher we should be focusing on.

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