A Solid Piece of Protection
By Christy Lowman
Did you know that there is an animal that has a piece of armor attached to their body that they can actually curl themselves inside of it and snap it closed? The mud turtle’s armor is its oval shell. The shell is attached to the turtle’s lower ribcage and spine and is a permanent piece of protective armor, like a breastplate. Its shell is bone and covered by scutes. Scutes are the hard plates on top of its shell. The top part of a turtle’s shell is called a carapace while the bottom is known as the plastron. Unlike other turtles, mud turtles have one or two hinges on their plastron. This turtle is able to draw all of their body inside their shell unlike most turtles. The hinge allows them the ability to bring the bottom shell up to meet the top shell making it a solid piece of protection.
Mud turtles have one other defense mechanism besides their shell. They have glands on the side of their )bodies that secrete a stinky liquid when they feel threatened. This and their hinged shell make it hard for predators to eat this turtle.
Mud turtles grow between 3-5 inches, with the males being larger than the females. They can live up to 50 years! Mud turtles are semi-aquatic reptiles, who prefer to spend most of their time on land instead of in water. They are omnivores, snacking on snails, insects, fish, tadpoles, worms, seeds and dark leafy greens found in ponds. They will burrow a few inches in the mud in the winter to hibernate during the cold weather. There are four subspecies of mud turtles: Eastern, yellow, Mississippi, and striped. You can find the Eastern mud turtle here in North Carolina.
Did you know that you have your very own protective shell? It is called the breastplate of righteousness. It is the last piece of the armor of God that we need to discuss. Do you know how to be righteous? Righteous means to be just. Righteousness means to be morally right or justifiable. In other words, we are to put on the breastplate of righteousness to help us live correctly, the way God wants us to. We are to stand up for what is right in God’s eyes when someone is doing something wrong. When we follow God’s laws, and are righteous, we are blameless. We have the duty to tell others when they are wrong and assist them in doing what is right as well. When people see that we are living a godly life, they will notice that we are different than the rest of the world. They will be curious about why we act this way, leading to an opportunity for you to tell them about Jesus. So, put on your breastplate of righteousness and live differently in the world for Jesus! Let people know you belong to God not only by what you say but by how you act. Most importantly, tell everyone you see about Jesus!
Dear Lord, please guide us as Christians to speak boldly about you. Help us tell everyone we see about You and Your miracles. Assist us as we lead others to Christ, and protect us as we stand up for You as we live differently and justly in this sinful world. Help us to choose to do right instead of wrong. Equip us each day with all of the armor of God while guiding us be brave and courageous! In Jesus’s name we pray. AMEN
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. Ephesians 6:14 NIV
And then He told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15 NLT