DayBreaks for 12/14/17: A Theology Lesson from Dr. Seuss
From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:
How’s your world going today? When you got up out of bed, did you leap up full of joy and excitement, or did you stub your toe or arise with a headache? There are things you plan to do today, right? Chances are, either formally or informally, you’ve got your day somewhat planned out. You know some things that are “must-get-done’s” and others that you can do if you get around to it. You know some of the people you’ll probably be talking with and what you’ll talk about. You may be filled with trepidation about some of those meetings, or excitement at the prospect of spending some time together with them. Either way, you have a schedule, a plan, in your mind for how you’ll spend your day.
We like to think that we are in charge of our lives – that we have a significant say-so in how the day unfolds, how our interactions will turn out, and what we’ll do and where we’ll go. And, to some extent, we do have some control over some of it – at least, we have an illusion of control. We like to think that we are masters of our destinies – even if it’s just a small, insignificant destiny like planning to stop at Starbucks for a cup of joe on the way to work. Our little fiefdom, over which we rule…or so we think.
One of the best commentaries about this is in a book on political science theory by a “theologian” you may have heard of, named Dr. Seuss. It’s a book called Yertle the Turtle. A little pond of turtles is ruled—or so he thinks—by Yertle, who’s a turtle. One day, he decides his kingdom needs extending.
Yertle, the turtle, the king of them all,
Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small.
“I’m ruler,” said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.
With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond.
But I cannot look down on the places beyond.
This throne that I sit on is too low down.
It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown.
“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be!
What a king! I’d be ruler of all I could see!”
And so it happened that Yertle the Turtle sent out a decree that all the turtles that lived in his pond should be stacked up to be his throne—to extend his power and glory. The whole pond scrambles to obey; first dozens, then hundreds of turtles were positioned underneath Yertle, who rose higher and higher into the air until finally he was so high up that he could see for miles.
I’m Yertle the Turtle, Oh marvelous me,
For I am the ruler of all that I see!
Yep, Yertle thought he had it made. He was “on top of the world”, overseeing his little domain, inflated with a sense of his own importance, overflowing with prideful arrogance. He believed he had everything under control and that his reign in his little realm was as secure as could be, but in the end, it wasn’t:
For the turtle on the bottom did a plain little thing.
He burped, and that burp shook the throne of the King.
And today, the great Yertle, that marvelous he –
Is the King of the Mud. That’s all he can see.
And that’s where all who lift themselves up eventually wind up – back down in the mud. We are all just one little burp away from reality.
We think it’s about us: my family, my work, my friends. We want to fashion our lives into a kingdom we control. But every once in a while, there’s a little “burp” someplace and we’re reminded of reality.
Luke 18:14 (KJV) – I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
PRAYER: Give us this day the wisdom to keep You on the throne and may we be content to be Your servants! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.