Posted by: donnatallman | February 20, 2014

Jesus Was a Turtle

David Wagner

David Wagner

After two years of traveling across the country with no place to call “home,” many of you have been imploring us to settle down and get a house so we wouldn’t be homeless anymore. In my last entry,  “Circuit Riders,” I made a statement that engaged many of you to the point of deluging me with e-mails. Good for you! Here’s what I said:

“We are houseless, but we are not homeless. Much like turtles, our ‘home’ travels with us in our relationships and in our backpacks!”

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about your reactions since then, and wondering if I have been missing something. There’s no doubt that I long to get off the road; I’m a terrible traveler. Just ask my teammates (and pray for them if you think of it!) I would LOVE to live in a place with an attic room where I could look out at the mountains and write. It doesn’t have to be much. Having a bedroom and kitchen would be a bonus, but an attic room to write ~ that would be heaven!

Andrea Schafthuizen

Andrea Schafthuizen

No one would love to live in a house more than me, but would that really give me a home? To find out, I went to the place in Scripture where I’m promised a house to see what God said about it; I went to John, chapter 14.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

The original King James Version of the Bible uses the word, “mansions,” for dwelling places. In my Father’s house are many mansions.

I read the verse over and over and over.

Okay, so God promised me a mansion. Where is it? Where’s my mansion?

Well, it didn’t take more than 2 minutes of meditation to realize I’d have to be dead in order to move into one of God’s houses. They’re in heaven; I’m on earth. The only way across that divide is…

Well, doesn’t that just beat all?

About the time I ramped up to pitch a full-blown hissy fit with the Lord because I’ll never have a house this side of eternity, I stopped myself and started reading the passage again – this time from the beginning. S-l-o-w-l-y like my pastor taught me.

“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you…”

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

In order to come to earth, Jesus had to leave behind his home in heaven and take up temporary residence here. When Jesus spoke to his disciples in John 14, he was just hours away from his arrest and crucifixion. His time on earth had come to an end and he was preparing those he loved for his departure; Jesus was going home to his Father’s house. His reunion with his Father was imminent, and it was all he thought about. His Father was the focus of his heart, mind, soul, and spirit.

When Jesus was here, he lived like Bob, Steven and I are now; he was itinerant. He didn’t own a house, but moved from place to place, town to town, and city to city telling other people about the kingdom of God.

So, if Jesus lived like us…

And we’re turtles…

Ergo, Jesus was a turtle?

Pretty much.

Jesus carried everything he needed with him. Walking through the Galilean countryside exposed Jesus to the elements and made him vulnerable to the wind, rain, and oppressive summer heat. He had no place to lay his head at night and no place to call home. Instead, Jesus suffered constant physical challenge, demonic interference, religious persecution, and eventual crucifixion by those who hated him.

The exact same violent opposition awaited Jesus’ disciples after his death, so he wanted to reach out with some strategic encouragement to the men he had grown to love. He pointed the way through the pain that was coming:

“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you…”

The focus of this passage is not on the mansion; it’s on believing in God. Jesus is telling his disciples that to get through the coming trauma, they need to believe in his Father. Look at how many times Jesus refers to his Father in verses 1-13 of John, chapter 14:

  1. You believe in God
  2. In My Father’s house
  3. No one comes to the Father but through Me
  4. You would have known My Father also
  5. You know Him (the Father)
  6. Because you have seen Him (the Father)
  7. Show us the Father
  8. He who has seen Me has seen the Father
  9. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father”?
  10. I am in the Father
  11. The Father is in me
  12. The Father abiding in me does His works
  13. I am in the Father
  14. The Father is in Me
  15. I go to the Father
  16. That the Father may be glorified in the Son.

There are sixteen references to his Father in just the opening verses of chapter 14 of John’s Gospel, sixteen. That doesn’t even include chapters 15, 16, and 17 that are all about the Father! Jesus’ life wasn’t about making a home on earth; it was all about his Father. Completely. Totally. 100% of Jesus’ heart was consumed with honoring his Father.

Don’t believe me? Look the bookends of Jesus’ life as he lived it.

Luke 2:49 records the very first words of Jesus when he was twelve years old:

“And He said to them (Mary and Joseph), ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’”

After Jesus had been arrested, tried and convicted, he was crucified. Luke 23:46 records the very last words Jesus uttered before he breathed his last breath:

Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.”

From the very beginning to the very end, Jesus’ life was about his Father’s business. Our purpose is no different; it’s found in John 14:13:

“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God is supposed to be glorified in us.

Don’t think you’re a “son of God”?

Galatians 3:26 says otherwise: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Our purpose in walking through this world as sons and daughters of God is to glorify God in all that we do.

Photo by Donna tallman

My Mansion
by Donna Tallman

So what was Jesus’ purpose of bringing up the “mansion” in the first place? I believe the answer is found in John 14, verse 3:

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Jesus was confirming his commitment to his disciples who he would be leaving shortly. “Where I am, there you may be also.” He was reassuring them that their relationship would continue on; it was eternal. He wanted them to know he still loved them and that his plan for them was not yet complete.

Beloved, it’s not about the mansion; it’s about the Father. It’s not about the possessions we acquire in this life; it’s about the relationships we develop.

I may not have a house, but I know my way home.

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.




  1. That was beautiful

  2. Donna,
    Great post! I was especially impacted by the last sentence. I don’t know if we will meet on the road, but because of His grace we will enjoy the homecoming.

    • And I’ll look forward to that homecoming. I hope you like country music because it will be blaring from my mansion! Blessings, Ray!

  3. Beautifully put Donna. Encouraging, even from the other end of the scale. At times feeling trapped at home. (Although I have learned to love it, it was a long time coming) Our home is certainly not here and it is just a speck in time we are in our houses here, wether that is a house that you stay at for decades, or one night in a hotel. I would be honored to have my mansion near yours by the way. Oh, and I love country music so that would be no issue. :).

    • nice…but we’d have to do something about the bully rooster – he’s terrifying! Yes, staying in one place with obligations can make you feel trapped, so it’s really not about the house; it’s about the relationship. When I focus on the “here and now” it can get overwhelming, but when I set the “here and now” into an eternal context, I feel empowered and motivated to make the absolutely most of my time on earth! Happy trails to you, Tammy…need a theme song, how do you feel about Tennessee Ernie Ford?! This Ole House:

      Ain’t gonna need this house no longer
      Ain’t gonna need this house no more
      Ain’t got time to fix the shingles
      Ain’t got time to fix the floor
      Ain’t got time to oil the hinges
      Nor to mend the window pain
      Ain’t gonna need this house no longer
      He’s getting ready to meet the saints

  4. Ha, I love it! I am going to put it on my Pandora station. It will drive my kids nuts. And agreed, no roosters. Well, maybe. 🙂

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