Today’s devotional: the turtle on the fence post

Have you heard of the “turtle on a fencepost” saying? It goes like this: if you’re walking along a fence and spot a turtle sitting atop a fencepost, you know it didn’t get there by itself.”

The phrase has been used as a joke aimed at politicians. But twice in the last few weeks I’ve seen it repurposed as a religious parable, once in Mary Russell’s novel The Sparrow and now in Chuck Colson’s Day by Day daily devotional. Given a spiritual slant, the “turtle on a fencepost” didn’t get into its predicament by accident; somebody put it there—and likewise, when we find ourselves in unexpected, fortuitous, or strange life circumstances, we should understand that we’re there not of our own design, but because God has placed us there for a purpose:

The Bible is chock-full of turtles: one person after another who knew that his or her position of power, authority, or promotion was given by Another.

Joseph was a turtle. How often, in his Egyptian chariot or his opulent surroundings, he must have sat back, closed his eyes, and reflected on his humble beginnings. His jealous brothers. The pit. Slavery. Prison. Now this! What an incredible fence post! How faithful of God . . . how gracious!

….The next time we are tempted to think we’re self-appointed fence-post sitters, I recommend the prophet’s counsel: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug” (Isa. 51:1).

Being put on a “fence post” is a wonderful opportunity and a reassuring sign that God has a plan for us. But we should view any such situation from a perspective of humble gratitude—after all, we’re not the ones who put ourselves there.

Are you sitting on a fence post right now, faced with a sudden turn of good fortune or an unexpected opportunity? Take time to consider why God might have placed you there, and how you can use this opportunity to serve God before you are once again placed back on the ground.

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