The Wounded Turtle


Photo credit: Arpingstone, Wikimedia Commons

The boy sat in the tall grass virtually hidden from the world around him.  His clothes were dirty and in poor condition, and he sat whistling to himself as he played in the dirt of the empty lot that veiled his presence.

The boy lay down for a moment to rest and was very still for a few minutes.  He had just drifted into sleep when he heard a sound that bothered him and he sat up and looked around.

The sound stopped immediately.  The boy walked around the vacant lot for a bit, then gave up and sat down again and drifted into his own thoughts. The sound began, and this time he inched toward it quietly to ensure he did not disturb the thing making it.  He peered into the pile, wondering what it was.  He was too frightened to lift anything up and sat in the grass watching.

After a minute he noticed a movement and his eyes tried to distinguish what it could be.  A dusty thing was moving and struggling but he could not tell what it was.  Finally he crept closer because he could tell that it was not bigger than him.  It was a turtle, he realized.  The turtle was large, perhaps a pet that had got away from home.   As he came forward he tried to remove the items around the turtle, assuming it was trapped.

The turtle struggled more when he came near, but froze when he came closer.  As he lifted items out of the way he saw  that the spring from a mattress had gone through a back leg, and the pool of blood showed its struggle.  Too frightened to touch the turtle and be bitten, the boy wondered what to do.  Minutes later he returned with a pair of rusty wire cutters he had found on the lot.  Clenching his eyes shut, he used all his strength to cut through the coil, then held the cutters up as a weapon.  The turtle rushed away from the pile.  The boy could see the turtle in the grass, and saw that the leg still carried a piece of the spring.  He waited and backed away to a safe distance.

Realizing that the turtle was not moving, the boy crept forward again.  He wondered if it was dead because it was so still and he crept forward to look.  The turtle moved slightly and he remembered the small apple he had picked from the tree nearby and pulled it out.  He tossed the apple to the turtle and backed up, ready to run.  The turtle seemed ravenous and devoured the apple very quickly.  Relieved, the boy ran to get another apple and returned, thinking that perhaps they could be friends.  He watched the turtle eat and wondered how he could help the leg of his new friend.

After a few days, the boy got up enough courage to try to remove the spring.  He had sworn his friend to secrecy and made a leash for the turtle’s head.  Together they planned to keep the turtle from biting them by holding his head by the rope leash while the other removed the spring by pulling it out with the wire cutters.  On their first attempt the turtle’s head slipped from the leash and they both ran away. They returned with an apple and retrieved the leash, making the noose smaller this time. The turtle seemed unafraid and more interested in the apple and the leash was easily put around its head.

The turtle flailed a little as the spring was removed, but it was soon out. The boys ran away and then turned to watch the turtle with the rope still around its head. It had returned to the apple and seemed unconcerned about them. They cheered and considered themselves heroes for the rest of the day. The boys came bearing food for the turtle a few days later, but it was nowhere to be found. They decided that now that it had healed, it was going to find its family.

 —————Thoughts that motivated this story—————

In this story I wanted to reflect on getting attention

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

In Matthew 4:23 we see Jesus begin with a bang.  Matthew makes a statement to summarize a lot of the things Jesus did in Galilee.  This is what I picture when I think of Jesus’ public ministry.  Matthew begins the list of what He did with ‘teaching in their synagogues’.   A synagogue was an ideal place to share truth because people went there to focus on God.  Jesus was a carpenter’s son (who may not have earned the right to be heard) who taught there, and that is significant.

Next Jesus preaches like a prophet to the people, telling them about the kingdom of God; which had to raise a few eyebrows.  Unlike John the Baptist, Jesus preaches in Galilee.  Finally Matthew mentions the healing Jesus performed.  I find it interesting that Matthew didn’t start the list there, because healing had to be the most compelling part of Jesus public ministry.  Jesus didn’t simply tell people that God cared; He followed it up by showing it in this way.  I believe that the healing was just as purposeful as the teaching and preaching was.

As the people heard what Jesus taught they had to think it was unusual.  They heard Jesus talk about the kingdom and they may have found it compelling.  Watching people they knew be healed had to make them wonder.  Although they saw this, the people went back to their normal lives, and I am so much like them.  I see wisdom and truth and get a glimpse of the immense magnitude of God, and then I turn back to my own world and self, unless I decide to focus on God.  In this story the boy’s attention was captured and he stopped what he was doing, and I think that is important.  I believe Jesus was saying this in words and action: The all-knowing and all-powerful creator wants your undivided heart!

See others stories on the topic of Self-Focus or click here to read similar stories

Please note, parablesbymish has moved to

A wonderfully blessed, self-critical person who loves to learn new things, delights in the little victories and gifts, and deeply respects wisdom. I enjoy writing and telling stories. I love outdoor activities and my career, coworkers, family, and the wonderful folks in my church family who teach me so much about how to walk confidently when you can't see where you're going.

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Posted in Based on New Testament, Matthew, Self-focus

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© 2013-2018 Parables by Mish & Each story is an original work of fiction, and any resemblance to actual events or persons is purely coincidental. Send requests for use of this content to Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

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