Behold the Turtle! Making Progress.

Behold the Turtle!  He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. Behold the Turtle! He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.

Ann - April 15, 2006

When I was a little girl I liked the parable of the tortoise and the hare.  I guess I still do.  I can relate to that old turtle just plugging away, not looking like he is going to make it anywhere, much less the finish line.


Sometimes, I feel that way - especially in regard to studying the Russian language.  Lately, because of my battles with health issues, my pace has been slowed.  I haven't been running much, more like crawling.  Like the turtle.  I am not competing with any ?hares?.  I don?t need the extra pressure.


Running the Race - Hebrews 12:1-2 Running the Race - Hebrews 12:1-2

I think it can parallel one of my favorite scriptures, from Hebrews 12, " with perseverance the race marked out for us...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith?.  That?s the challenge for me and for all of us who are called to ?run the race? wherever we are.  Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.  If you look at others and what they are doing, you can get dizzy.  If you look down and watch your feet you can trip.  If you retreat into your shell then you?ll never get any place.


Keeping perspective.  And for me, that is continuing to get to know Him better and trust that He is working in me, despite my ?slow? pace.  Learning the Russian language is secondary to that.


Later, as I grew up into my teens, I had a favorite poster on my wall.  It said, ?Behold the turtle!  He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.?  I thought it was cute then.  Now I think it is basically what the Christian life is all about.  Do I want to grow?  Then I have to risk.  Do I believe God is faithful or am I relying on my own strength and ability?


The concept is certainly applicable to learning the Russian language and culture.  Do I want to make progress?  Do I want to learn this so I can be more effective in what we feel God is calling us to?  Do I want to be able to speak the heart language so I can listen to a teenage orphan girl pour her heart out to me?  Or so that I can share with her or him?  Yes!


Am I willing to take the risk and stick my neck out?  Yes.  Most days.  I wish I could say that moving to Russia and going back to school after 35 years was enough.  No more sticking my neck out.  But each day God calls me to do it again and again. 


He calls me to go to the market and buy food with the little bit of language I have.  Thank goodness I have a working pointer finger when I can?t remember the word for ?cucumber?.


He calls me to sit in our courtyard and visit with the babushkas (grandmothers).  Last summer all I could do was say my ABC?s to them.  Now I am beginning to talk in sentences! 


He calls me to order a taxi on the phone even though I have to say my phone number one digit at a time sometimes. 


And, just recently He called me to ?visit? with a teen girl in an orphanage.  With dictionary in hand we spent a couple of hours ?talking?.   She was more interested in my undivided attention than my mastery of the Russian language.


Yesterday He called me to talk about my life with the girls that work in the beauty salon where I get my hair cut.  They wanted to know all about America and ?Internet dating.?  Whew!  That was a challenge to give my motherly advice to young women who are desperate to get out of Russia.


But because of all these ?callings? it makes me want to stick my neck out.  What have I got to lose?  Maybe a little pride when people have no idea what you are saying or you don?t remember the verb so you have to resort to sign language or your Texas accent overrides all the Russian phonetics you?ve learned.  But a wise and experienced Wycliffe missionary impressed upon us last year - apply the verse, ?I am a fool for Christ?.


So. . . behold the turtle . . . He makes progress, only when he sticks his neck out.  So will you continue to pray for me and Robert and the other students who are working so hard to get our minds and mouths around this language?  That we take courage and we not grow weary, that we stay in the race with our eyes fixed on The Reason we are here in the first place?  Thanks! 


And again, thanks for being on the sidelines, cheering us on with your prayers and support.  May you run the race He has called you to.