“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:12-13
The beautiful sunshiny day I was walking my sweet dog Esther through a huge field in a gorgeous park in Virginia and came upon a big turtle smack in the middle of the field was the perfect opportunity to consider something a dear friend had mentioned shortly beforehand. Though I was encouraging her and telling her I was proud of her for taking a big step forward in her life with something that had been very difficult for her, both of us carefully giving glory to God for the step she’d taken, she remarked how slow she felt she had been in growing, in changing. In her estimate, though she had not used the words, she was growing, and is growing, at a turtle’s pace. Turtles are known for their slow pace. It’s also how I think of my own growth through the years of learning to follow Christ. There is something to be said for a turtle and its slow pace, something I began to reflect upon less than 24 hours later when I came across that turtle.
That turtle, I am quite certain, had every intention of getting where it needed to go. I also believe that turtle wasn’t looking around at all the other animals in the park, like the birds, the possums, the deer, the bunny rabbits, and the foxes, and sadly, morosely, self-pityingly, or jealously comparing its pace to everyone else’s pace. Nor do I believe that turtle was holding a mirror up to itself and lashing out at itself or giving itself a hard time at all for going at the pace it was going. Nor was that turtle probably sitting in the middle of the field thinking about quitting because it couldn’t get to its destination at a faster pace. If anything, the turtle was taking a little rest before carrying on in its journey forward to where it needed to go, where it knew it could and would go. My estimate is that turtle was convinced it would simply keep on going with time to rest and refresh itself along the way, keeping its pace steady, but not pushing itself so hard it would break down and be unable to keep going forward, but neither getting stuck in place and refusing to endure and persevere.
We who follow Christ may not all grow in our relationship with God and in His image at the same pace. Some may in fact grow more slowly. Isn’t what matters most that we focus on the Lord, and on His Word, and yield to His Spirit as He leads us and grows us at the pace He desires as we submit to His lordship and enjoy His fellowship on our way to forever with Him in heaven? It’s not about the pace, is it? It’s about the Lord, His will, His timing, and the pace He desires, for His glory, isn’t it? Come away with the Lord. Follow Him at the pace He leads you forth!