In the normal scheme of things, Janet and I try to take a walk with our dog, Hank, four or five times a week. But, with the weather so hot and unpredictable, as well as having crazy busy schedules, it has been difficult to meet that objective. Last Tuesday, I decided to take Hank and at least try to get a short walk in before the frenetic pace of the day started.
In fact, and this is unusual for me, I was psyched up for a walk and the weather was cooperating. So… off we went while Janet attended to an appointment that she had. We started off on our normal route but at the end of our block, traffic was stopped, with a car along the curb. A man was in the middle of the street directing traffic and answering questions while he had his smart phone out taking pictures.
Hank doesn’t do well with unfamiliar circumstances so I found myself in alert mode as we approached the point of interest. A man had his car trunk open and I could see that he was guarding something in the street. Well, it turned out to be a turtle. That’s right – a turtle, and not such a small one at that. Its shell was probably about 12″ long and it was clear that this turtle was on a mission.
I asked the man if he was releasing the animal back into the wild, into a neighborhood pond, but he assured me that the turtle had decided to move from one pond to another and had to cross the street to get to his destination. The man was just ensuring the safety of the crossing so that the animal wouldn’t be injured or run over by a car in the middle of his journey.
The entire scene reminded me of a recent article that I read about Jonathan the tortoise, who is believed to be the oldest living land animal on the face of the earth. It has been confirmed that he was fully mature, meaning at least the age of 50, back in 1886. This makes him 188-189 years old – at least… He is now blind, moves a little slower and still spends his days with his mate – eating, sleeping and mating!
Jonathan currently lives in St. Helena, a British colony, where he was brought in 1882. There are photographs of him in his new home after he arrived from the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean where he had lived since being hatched, presumably in or before 1832. In fact, he is called a Seychelles Giant Tortoise and animals of his kind live exceedingly long lives. It is thought the one of Jonathan’s same species died back in 1966 at the age of 189. And another Giant Tortoise was thought to have died in 2006 in India at the age of 255 years, but there has been no confirmation of his longevity. So suffice it to say that Jonathan is considered the oldest living land animal on earth.
There are other incredible life spans as well. The oldest mammal is thought to be a Bowhead Whale, estimated to be 211 years old. Then there is a 16.5′ Greenland Shark estimated to be more than 400 years old. In 2016, a Quahog Clam was brought up from the depths of the ocean off Iceland and estimated to be more than 507 years old. It was named Ming, in honor of the Chinese dynasty that was in power during its early life.
Then there are the tress and plants that also achieve incredible ages – some of them living more than 5000 years – meaning that they have been around since before the pyramids were built. Remarkable statistics to be sure…
All this is to say that Man, while not living as long as other creatures, is responsible for keeping the environment safe for these plants and animals. In fact, God gave us dominion over the animals back at the time of creation. Our verse for tonight highlights the mandate that man was to be entrusted with the care of the earth and all that was on it. Moses, the author of Genesis, tells us in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
In other words, Man was to have dominion over God’s creation – naming the animals and caring for the earth. My encouragement this evening is that we all need to be active to make sure that we care for what God has created, just as this good samaritan did this morning while guarding the path of the turtle trying to get to a different pond. My prayer is that God will continue to bless us and help us to be ever mindful of the animals and delicate earth that we have been appointed stewards of. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…