"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS."
To my dear grandchildren,
The Desert Tortoise
"God made the beast of the earth . . . and everything
that creeps upon the earth after his kind.
The desert tortoise, with its twelve-inch- diameter arched shell, stumpy hind legs, flat feet and short tail, lives in the deserts of Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico. It is an expert digger, sometimes digging a burrow up to thirty feet long where it will hibernate for six months during the winter.
Some of these tortoises have been known to live well over fifty years. How do they find enough food to stay alive in such a harsh climate? They feed on the plants that grow there - grass, flowers, wild fruit, certain shrubs and even prickly desert cactus. Sometimes they eat snails and insects too. But if food is scarce, they can go without eating for a month. They hunt for food only in the cool hours of the morning and evening, crawling into their burrows when it is hot.
The tortoise, though wonderfully designed by the Creator to withstand fierce desert heat, does need water, which is scarce in the desert. God has given their bodies the ability to get all the water they need from the vegetation they eat. They do drink water when they find it, usually from pools in a rainstorm, but that does not happen very often.
Early in June the females digs a dirt nest several inches deep, making a cavern under the hard surface soil. Her eggs (about ten) look like ping-pong balls. As each one drops into the nest, she packs dirt around it. Then she fills the whole nest with dirt, tamping it down and smoothing it over so it is cleverly concealed. From then on the eggs are on their own, as are the young tortoises that hatch about three months later. It is amazing how they can hatch underground and stay alive as they dig their way to the surface. The Creator, who watches every living thing, takes care of them.
The newly hatched tortoises are exact miniatures of their parents and are about the size of a half-dollar. They have soft shells and need to hide or run quickly to avoid being eaten by vultures, coyotes and snakes. As their shells harden, they become like pieces of armour. The young tortoises soon learn that they have no need to fear harm from their enemies, and so they just go about the desert slowly and peacefully.
The world in which we live is often compared to a desert, in spite of all its glamour and attractions. God's enemies, encouraged by Satan, seem to be increasing daily. Yet for those who love God and know His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as their own Saviour, He has provided an armour to protect from all evil. (See Ephesians 6:10-17) The important thing is not just to know that the armour is provided, but to "put on the whole armour of God."
Love you all,