Tortoise Repatriation


During the course of an average summer, I deal with an assortment of living things. Our yard becomes a sanctuary for squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and a variety of birds from the beloved Cardinals to the bullying Bluebirds. We also have to control some welcomed pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees, but we're on guard against too many pesky wasps and spiders! We have had geese and ducks from a nearby pond try to lay their eggs under our bushes and “start their families” on our premises as well. Several years back, our dog Freddie gingerly rolled one of those goose eggs out of his mouth and onto the ground right in front of me. His tail was wagging wildly and the expression in his eyes seemed to say, "See what I brought you today, master! Do you still like me?!"😕

However, in the nearly thirty years we've lived in this house, I don’t think I have ever had a sizable tortoise (or turtle) take up residence under our rose-lavender flowering rhododendron plant though. This last week, I had that blessing! Now, what do you do about something like this? I thought immediately that he or she, had to go back home! I was thinking specifically about the neighborhood pond about 300 meters away. I told Monique I was calling this my "tortoise repatriation!" She said, “What?! And then quickly followed with this warning, “Watch your language!” We both laughed and admitted, that's a good one!!

Approximate size: 10 x 12 inches!

The idea of "repatriation" is the process of returning something to its place of origin. This term is often used in geopolitical matters and international finance.  I choose to use it playfully as my strategy to return this wayward tortoise to its original habitat.

I participated in a funeral this week for a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who had lived 103 years. I love to affirm the home-going of believers! In a sense, these saints have been “repatriated” by God at the time of their passing. I believe that the Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, hints of this when He describes how the shepherd relates to his sheep, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28 NIV). 

Ready for Transport!
I believe God's word assures us that the soul of a child of God is immediately transported at death into the presence of God where in this disembodied state (status intermedius) we maintain a full sense of awareness and enjoy blissful fellowship with Christ until He returns at the Second Coming. 

Then, at the end of this age as we know it, and "in a flash and in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet" we will come with Christ to receive and experience the redemption of our bodies. Cemeteries will be full of activity and life! We will be given a magnificently transformed new body that is suited for eternity. Paul described it as, "the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, the mortal with immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:52-53). 

If you wish to read further about this, follow this link...

Our future "repatriation" and transformation in Christ is assured. It gives us great hope to know that at death we simply change locations. Paul said, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6). He longed to realize "a gain" as he referred to it and return to his place. Paul couldn't contain his emotion, "I desire to depart and be with Christ." (Philippians 1:21-23). 

In the meantime, what is our work while we are still in this world? Paul would answer, "Live for Christ!" Our church recently concluded a two-year process of strategic planning. We have a new mission statement that we hope will motivate and instruct us in going forward as we carry out our mission in Springfield and around the world. Here it is in a succinct statement, "To see all generations experience true life change with Jesus." 

What is your mission and purpose? Live for Christ! Share the Good News with others! Let's "grow and go" so that everyone, everywhere, may experience Christ's transforming love! 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 


  1. Two weeks ago, I officiated at the largest Celebration of Life that has been held in our area for 25 years! I then was to conduct the gravesite service and I had prepared as always, but felt it missed what I truly felt should be said.

    As we drove to the city Llano, we passed a large number of storage companies. When it came time to say the final words for Vivian (Woman who we celebrated) I said, looking into the grave, "AS you drove out here, you may have noticed the 32 storage companies on the road. We are here, today, to have our final thoughts for Vivian and we stand at her temporary storage facility! Vivian is presently with our Lord Jesus Christ and traded her faith for sight. We miss her terribly, she has no such thoughts being present with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    May we take time, now, to recognize that one day, Vivian will be called up in a resurreection body and this storage facility will be vacant and we will rejoin in fellowship.

    I marvel at how the Lord can use a drive to inspire and bring peace to a family. No greater blessing than to know that "He lives through me"

    1. What a perfect illustration of our resurrection hope in Christ! Thanks, friend!!


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