• Beth Hildebrand

Do you snap like a turtle?

While sitting on the porch feasting on Manna, our dog started barking. That isn’t unusual because his passion is to chase and bark at squirrels in the backyard. But he was at the fence, looking down just standing there barking. From the porch I couldn’t tell what it was but it was brown and right underneath the gate door at the side of the house. I thought…oh no, a opossum or rabbit is stuck under the fence and is dead and I’m going to have to pick it up.

Well, much to my surprise was a big, brown house on the back of a turtle. A big snapping turtle. In he middle of a suburban neighborhood. Interesting enough, our children saw that same turtle down the street from us at our other neighbor’s yard several days ago. (Well, I assume it’s the same turtle because we don’t seem to see them around here often…if ever). But it had the determination it was going to crawl right under that fence even though his trunk was a few inches higher than the space allowed.


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So, I opened the fence door since he couldn’t push it open himself and was curious to see what he would do next. It sat there for about half an hour and I out of my curiosity I googled “snapping turtle” and found this:

They are warlike and aggressive “when out of the water with powerful beak-like jaws, and their highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name “serpentina”, meaning “snake-like”) Snappers will travel extensively overland to reach new habitat and it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. Snapping turtles have “fierce” dispositions; however, when encountered in the water, they usually slip quietly away from any disturbance. Snapping turtles have evolved the ability to snap because unlike other turtles, they are too large to hide in their own shells when confronted. Snapping is their defense mechanism.

I never knew a snapping turtle couldn’t hide in its shell. I thought all turtles could…that’s just the unique ability that no other creature has. But this turtle couldn’t hide. So it snaps.

We can only hide for a little while. Anger, bitterness, stress and worry hide in our depths until we snap. Out of defense words bite and bring pain. We snap at our children, our spouse, parents, co-workers and other people who are dear to our hearts. And then we can’t completely hide anymore once snapping words have come out.

Oh how I’ve seen myself similar to that turtle. I’ve been warlike in my attitude when I’ve been attacked by a “serpentina” of stress, worry and frustration that’s been carried heavy on my back trying to hide underneath. How I wish I could hide in a shell sometimes, but God doesn’t want us to hide from relationships, lessons learned and joy, so He makes it difficult for us to hide for too long so others will see our vulnerability and needs. It gives the opportunity to show compassion and love in a world filled with war, internally and externally. The only place we should hide is in Christ.


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This turtle welcomed himself into our backyard and carried his home with him as he appeared to be on a mission. He crawled through our garden and what looked like the plans to go through the back gate I had opened for him to exit and go his merry, or belligerent way.


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But he takes a turn.

He doesn’t go out the gate, he chooses to turn left and go through the natural area, and then to the soccer goal.

He’s now stuck.


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He’s gotten himself into this net…or trap. He’s entangled and can’t get out.

I’ve never seen a snapping turtle stretch it’s neck out either and boy, they have long necks. My daughter said if we didn’t see the shell, and just his neck and face, it would look like a huge, thick evil snake. That’s was it. The things and people we snap at brings out the serpentina sin-net that satan wants to put over us as a tangling trap.


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That turtle was fighting against that trap and wouldn’t let me help him get out as he opens his mouth big as a warning to leave him along. How do we get caught up in the snare of a net that is so difficult to untangle? A trap is always there waiting for us and if we’re not alert and aware then we’re in it until it’s too late. We don’t take the long path around it to avoid the danger but just plow forward not thinking of the consequences.

But there is a way out when help is offered. You may not like it and defend yourself in all ways possible but God is using others and His Spirit to untangle our hearts and minds from sin, worry, bitterness, anger and resentment.

God rescues us and His grace untangles us and sets us free.

He sets us free.

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