Karmen Hartranft

Sumita asked me Labor Day weekend to prayerfully consider speaking at the women’s retreat.

She had already printed out the flyers with two scriptures referring to walking and light.

Colossians 2:6-7
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted
and now being built up in Him and established in your faith,
just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

I knew as soon as I saw the flyer that I was supposed to say yes because the Lord had been inundating me with verses on light and walking.

I had witnessed baby turtles walking from their nest to the ocean for the first time that summer. It was such a neat event but no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t write about it. It felt “bigger” than a post for my blog.

Standing in my kitchen with Sumita, I knew I was supposed to talk about these turtles at the retreat.

The baby turtles we saw had to be rescued from their nest because they were too small and too weak to break through the sand. These babies were so tiny they could fit into the palm of our hands. But they didn’t seem weak or scared or ill equipped for their walk.

In fact, they were fast!

They used their flippers intended for swimming to move rapidly down the beach to the ocean. The first waves pummeled them, but they got back up and kept going.

After seeing this, I remember thinking,

“These turtles have more faith than me.”

They seemed so brave and focused and obedient. They were doing EXACTLY what God created them to do.

After a little research, I realized just how much God equips the sea turtles.

God saw fit to give sea turtles eyes that were made to see under water. Salt water. They have a gland behind each eye to allow them to maintain osmotic balance by eliminating excess salt obtained from the ocean.

On land, they can only make out light.

Normally, a turtle walk happens at night, when the sand is cool and the predators are few. In fact, they only know the direction of the ocean by following the reflection of the moon off the water.

They follow the light.

They can easily be led astray by “false lights” like porch lights or headlights or flashlights.

Since these turtles are sea creatures born on land, they lose 20% of their body mass due to evaporation as they journey from their nest to the ocean. They literally do not have the time or energy to follow a false light. Or to be disobedient to the “call” to the ocean.

Their life depends on it.

Once in the ocean, the baby turtles swim 20 hours straight to deep waters. 20 hours!

God equipped them with an iron compound, magnetite, in their brains that allows them to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field, for navigation.

As I was preparing my notes to speak at the retreat, I had a lot of trouble organizing my thoughts.

I got nervous. REALLY nervous. And filled with doubt.

“I can’t do this!”

“I’m not going to make any sense!”

I started to wonder if there was any way I could get out of speaking. I wanted to stay in my warm, comfortable nest.

I let my eyes be distracted from the light.

Flipping through my journal, I noticed that God had started giving me verses about light 5 months before I even saw the turtle walk. I was able to use most if not all of them in some form at the retreat.

God equipped me.

People started telling me they were praying for me. (Probably because they heard I was going to talk about turtles!)

The closer it got to the retreat, the more trust I had that God was going to do a mighty work and that I just needed to show up.

God had me on my own Turtle Walk of sorts, calling me out of my nest and into the depths of the ocean.

I didn’t do it without fear. I did it in spite of my fear.

In fact, I am here to tell you, the power of God is SO MUCH greater than the power of fear. I know, I felt it. And it didn’t make any sense apart from God.

I asked Rachel Sinclair to sing the song “Oceans” at the retreat because the words applied perfectly:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

It perfectly applied to the turtles! And fear. And me.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior