We are all familiar with the English idiom, "Slow and steady wins the race." We are also familiar with the story of the turtle and the hare. The hare challenged the turtle to a race and though the turtle was slow and clumsy, it took the challenge. The race began and the hare took a quick lead. The hare was so confident it would win, it took a nap during the race. Of course, the slow turtle never stopped, its perseverance helped win the match. The hare's little nap had cost it the race.
Though the turtle is slow and clumsy, its shell provides wonderful protection from the fast-paced predators of the world. The turtle can stick its head, neck, legs, and tail out of the openings in the shell when needed. But when danger lurks, the turtle draws itself into its protective covering and escapes from danger.
In many ways the turtle is wiser than humans when it comes to protecting itself from the enemy. The scripture admonishes us to "be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8, KJV). God knows our helplessness against this angry lion. He advises us to "put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).
Like the turtle, God gives us strong and effective armor against our enemy. We are given the belt of truth, the breastplate of integrity, the Good News of Peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. The Word of God tells us to watch always and be vigilant in our prayers. It is clear that we must wear this armor always. We cannot lay the armor aside even for a moment. Nehemiah used this same method of perseverance which helped him and his men to complete the building of the wall of Jerusalem.
Though turtles live in water, they lay their eggs out on the shore in the sand. The moment the eggs are buried in the sand the mother pays no more attention to them. Abandoned and left on their own, these eggs are hatched only by the help of the warmth they get from the sunshine. As soon as they are hatched, they head straight for the ocean. They have a sense of their goal, heaven bound as it were. This time is the most dangerous time of their lives. There are thousands of birds, mammals and fish that try to attack them. The devil is like those predators; he is trying to attack us when we are most vulnerable. Jesus' life was full of danger. The devil used his devious skill to try and trick Jesus and he never stopped trying until Jesus died on the cross. Praise God the devil did not succeed. We too can resist the devil and he will flee from us.
Turtles have the remarkable ability to stay alive even when they are seriously wounded or torn. It is very hard to kill them. They can live to be forty to one-hundred-years old. One turtle that was in captivity in Mauritius is known to have lived 152 years. It would have lived longer but it died because of an accident. A turtle can die by being overweight. When it is too fat, it cannot draw its different parts within the safety of the shell. Turtles differ in sizes; some like the Mud Turtle are only four inches in diameter. Others grow to be 12 feet in diameter! Turtles have a life span twice that of a human being. But humans have been given the gift of eternal life. Thank God for Jesus who made it possible for us to live eternally with Him.
All turtles, whether large or small, wear their armor constantly. We too need to wear our armor constantly. Many fresh water turtles use their webbed feet to swim as fast as possible to flee from their enemies. We must also flee from our enemy. King David said, "Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me" (Ps. 143:9, KJV). We should not be self-confident and take a nap like the hare. King Solomon warns us "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man" (Prov. 6:10, 11). Mark warns us not to sleep lest the Master come suddenly.
As Solomon has said, "The race is not to the swift" (Eccl. 9:11), we can still win like the turtle. We are assured of this victory when we run the race with patience, looking unto the Author and Finisher of our faith who is Jesus, our wonderful Lord and Helper (Heb. 12:1, 2).