November 14, 2010
You have all heard the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” but have you heard the sequel - “The Tortoise and the Bees”? After winning the dramatic, ever-so-slow victory over the Hare, the Tortoise decided that it was time to lay her eggs. Yes, the Tortoise was a girl. But don’t blame old Aesop for that mistake; it’s very hard to tell with turtles!
So the Tortoise made the slow journey back to her ancestral breeding ground. She found the same sandy field where she was born and the same tree where she had been laying her eggs for many years. It was perfect. There was plenty of water. There was plenty of soft green plants nearby. It was not too sunny but not too cold. It was perfect -except for one thing. This year, there was a beehive in the tree.
The bees were not happy about the arrival of the Tortoise. They buzzed about her head and told her to scram. She quietly said, “You can sting me, but you can’t kill me. This is my home, and I must produce life.” She quietly went about her work, moving the sand and preparing her nest. The bees began to sting her. They stung her head, her legs, her tail. They lost their stingers in her shell. She continued preparing her nest. “You can sting me, but you can’t kill me. This is my home, and I must produce life.”
Slowly, slowly, slowly, the Tortoise prepared her nest. Slowly, slowly, slowly, she laid her eggs. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the tiny tortoise babies developed inside their eggs. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the attacks from the bees began to wane as more and more bees lost their stingers in her shell. No matter what the bees buzzed as they stung her, no matter how much it hurt when they stung, she always quietly replied: “You can sting me, but you can’t kill me. This is my home, and I must produce life.”
Finally, after many long months of waiting and patience and endurance, her eggs began to move. The baby tortoises began to poke through their shells and emerge into the fresh clean air. When all of the babies were out and free, the momma Tortoise prepared her babies for the annual journey to the watering place. As they were about to leave the nest, she said, “Never mind the bees. They can sting you, but they can’t kill you. This is our home, and we must produce life.”
This world is full of bees. Bees of all kinds buzz about us and try to distract us from our calling. Sometimes they attack and sting. Other times they just do one flyby after another, trying to get us off course, trying to cause us to lose focus and to lose faith. In our passage today, Jesus calls us to be like the Tortoise: quietly faithful and unafraid.
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