Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen – 8-5-20

August 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

On my desk at church I have a prayer that Marian Wright Edelman wrote.

Lord, help me to sort out what I should do first, second and third today

And to not try to do everything at once and nothing well.

Give me the wisdom to delegate what I can and to order the things I can’t delegate,

To say no when I need to, and the sense to know when to go home.

When life seems to be swirling and so much is uncertain, I find it helpful to look at that prayer.  I cannot control a hurricane, a virus, an election, or even what my own children do, but I can control what I spend my energy and time on.  I can choose where to focus my attention.  And, I can decide how I want to try to meet the challenges of not knowing.  If I tell you what I want, perhaps you will (1) hold me accountable and (2) think about your own list.

First, I want to be grateful for all of the good in my life and for all of the people who quietly go about doing good.  On Sunday morning, one of our members was at church very early with her blower, cleaning all of the crepe myrtle blossoms off of the church driveway and parking lot.  She had decided that drive-in worship would be prettier, neater and nicer without the tree trash.  On Monday, a church member dropped off two new prayer shawls she had finished and a bunch of small needlepoint crosses that can be used as bookmarks.  She was hoping that they could be delivered with the Bibles that we will give to our rising 3rd graders.  Another member said that she had offered to bring a meal to a friend who recently broke her arm and that she had to “practically stand in line to bring food because there were so many people who wanted to help.”  Then, another church family called and said that they had some money that they wanted to use to “pay it forward” and wanted me to identify a family that needed it and to give it to them anonymously.  There is much that I cannot control, but I want to be grateful.  And when I begin to look, I am overwhelmed by things for which I am grateful.

Second, I want to try to approach whatever is coming with love and a trust that God can use every single thing for a good purpose – even those things that I do not like.  Some of this means that I choose not to listen/watch or engage with those who speak about hate.  I can’t control what someone else says or does, but I pledge to work on disciplining what comes out of my mouth, eyes and heart.  I will do what I think is right.  I will speak up for what I believe as kindly as I can, and let those who say things that I think are wrong know that I disagree without trying to pulverize them into agreeing with me.  When someone is rude or mean to me, I want to be better at not returning evil for evil (Romans 12:7) but to focus instead on what is noble or good.

I have decided that this thing we call Christian faith is either about loving God, self and neighbor more than anything else, or it is not worth the time.  I can’t control whether or not someone loves me.  But they cannot control my loving them.  My work is to be able to love them, even when they choose otherwise. 

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  I want to be a part of driving out darkness and hate – first in me and then in others.  You?

Make time to worship.


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