Peter and I have just come back from a few weeks’ camping vacation. It was the most fun and amazing time. It seemed like God caused everything that was left to chance (e.g., weather, our ability to get our favourite non-reservable campsites, etc.) to turn out in our favour. There was some rain, but most of the time it was at night – just enough to keep the risk of forest fire down, and ensure that we were allowed to have campfires.
I love animals, so I prayed that we would get to see some creatures that I’d never seen in the wild before. God answered that prayer, too. We got a chance to see a family of moose really close up (a cow and her two calves), and a family of wild turkeys (two hens and two poults). I was so impressed with the turkeys’ care in parenting. The babies were too small to fly, so the parents were very protective of them. The first time we saw them, we got out of the car to take some pictures. When they decided to cross the road, the babies were a little sluggish in following their parents so they were at risk of getting hit by an approaching car. One of the mothers was about to attack the car, at risk to her own life, when we stepped in to slow down traffic and aid in their crossing. Over that week, I grew quite attached to the little family.
The morning of our departure we saw a turkey acting strangely by the side of the road. She didn’t have a poult by her side, so at first I thought it must be a different bird… until Peter said, “Oh.” I turned and saw the dead baby in the middle of the road. It had been run over by a car. The mother was craning her neck towards it, trying to see her offspring, acting listless and not caring to get out of the way of the oncoming traffic. I cried my heart out.
One of the thoughts that went through my mind was of how God had orchestrated a perfect vacation for us – only to cruelly show us this sad, sad tableau at the end. At that moment I hated the world and all its suffering, pain, and death. I said to Peter, and to God, that I would have been happy to give up our favourite campsite if it meant that the little turkey baby could have lived. Why bless us with so many things only to allow such suffering at the end?
I woke up the next morning with the answer. This world, with all its suffering and loss, heartache and death is the best that many people will ever know. This will be the bright spot in their existence. They will never know a place where death is conquered, where love reigns, and where there is no suffering and sadness. That is our mission. That is what drives us. That is what I will remember when I think of the baby turkey. We are compelled by the love of God to reach out to the lost and perishing, that we might snatch some from the diseased clutches of hell. I’m ready.