“Looking Back, Looking Ahead, Looking Within” -Rev. Ken Turley

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A group of scientists discovered a way to create life.  They claimed they had created life from nothing.  And of course this caused quite a stir.  They made headlines in the news, they were famous all over the world, they won the Nobel Prize.  They began to say they were just like God in that they could create life.  

Needless to say God was watching.  Finally God decided to have a chat with these fellas.  So one day the scientists were in their laboratory and God appeared in their midst and said, “Hey guys, I understand you can create life.”  

They were a little shaken of course, but they were scientists and were very good about staying objective,  And after all they had created life.  So one of them screwed up his courage and said, “Yes, that’s right.  We’ve created life just like you.”  

God said,  “Really, just like me?  I’d really like to see this.” 

“All right”  they said.  So they set up all their equipment, all their test tubes and Bunsen burners, they put on their protective clothing.  One said to God, “You might want to step back a couple of feet.”  And when they had everything prepared they said to God,  “All right, if you’re ready,  here we go.”  So they reached down into a container they had handy and grabbed a handful of dirt and poured into a large glass container . . .

“Hey! Wait a minute,” God said, “”Get your own dirt.”

It’s a silly joke, but it contains a very important truth for all of us, no matter what it is we are doing.  Whether we are at work or play, deepening on our own inner spiritual growth and well being, volunteering somewhere to make the world a better place, or trying to make our church a warm and vibrant community, a safe home for free thinking lovers of God and the neighbor, what we are working with was created by God.  We can be creative or destructive, we can be innovative or traditional, we can be cooperative or go our own way, but there is nothing that at its essence, is not created by God. 

The best we can do is play around with the raw materials.  It is important we remember this, because what we are so invested in is not ours, it is God.  The talents and insights we bring to the table, are not ours, they are gifts from God.  The life we live, the world we inhabit, the church we love, these are not ours, they are gifts from God.  We can nurture, we can help them to grow, assist the transformation into new life.  Or we can keep them for ourselves, we can restrict their growth and life.  We can even kill and destroy.  But whatever it is are engaged in, and whatever we contribute, whatever we treasure, while we can help make better, or help make worse, we can never own, because whatever is good and true is from God. 

We can think we own our cars and our houses and all our possessions, and relation to other people and the earthly laws maybe we do, but in relation to God and the essence of life, they are not ours.  We can think we own our own lives and the things we do and by all out appearances that may seem true, but in relation to God and ongoing life, they are not ours.  We may call this church our church, and it may be our spiritual home, and we may care deeply about its well being, and that is well and good, but it is not “ours”, if anything we belong to the church.  For it is God’s and at the fundamental essence of life, we belong to God. 

We may choose to believe otherwise. We may fight against that and create all kinds of hell on earth, but we belong to God.  And everything that is good and true all around us and everything good and true that comes into the world through our own minds and hearts and hands, is not of our own making, but from God.

If this realization does not humble you. Then you don’t get it.  If this thought does not make you grateful to the bottom of your soul, they you don’t get it.  If this concept does not make you determined to do your best not to screw it up but to help recognize and support and nurture and grow the love and wisdom of God in every moment of everything we do, you are not getting it.

Every single moment of everything we do is a moment of creation and God’s hand is at work.  And our part is to help God’s love and wisdom manifest in new and beautiful and joyful and healing life. 

We are free to try and restrain growth, we are free to try and keep it the way we want it, we are free to be fearful or cynical or hopeless or depressed.  And we are free to try and stop what God is trying to make new.  But while we will have our impact in the end whatever we do to separate ourselves from God’s Divine Providence will just fade away.  On the other hand whatever we do in the flow of love and wisdom to further Divine Providence’s manifestation of the Second Coming becomes a part of heaven on earth.

You understand I hope, that I cannot tell you what to do.  I cannot tell you what choices to make.  I can only encourage you to remember that it is God’s dirt.  That whatever process your are involved in come from a place of loving wisdom.  Whatever you choose to do let it serve what is loving and wise.  Get your self out of the way.  Let your values and your needs be part of the picture, but do not let them become the most important thing for they are not the most important thing, they are a part of God’s creation.  

In this world today, in our church, in your church, and in our own lives, we are faced with unstoppable change and immense challenges.  We can call out to God to keep us humble and aware that everyone around us is a child of God and a vessel for God’s love and wisdom, just as we ourselves are.  We can cry out to God to never let us forget that we are only a small part of a big picture and that what we have to offer is of use and importance, but that this is so for everyone around us as well.

To the degree that we try to make our lives our own, that we believe we control our own destiny and we are responsible for the good outcomes we are part of,  to that degree we separate ourselves from the truth and goodness of God.  It is hard to find your way in this world.  You must look behind and know your history.  You must look ahead and follow your hopes and dreams. 

But you must look within and know yourself, that where you are coming from and where you are trying to get to can become one path within the flow of Divine Providence…

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Rev. Ken Turley, now retired after 30 years as parish minister and serving as president of Convention, and his wife Laurie, live in Bridgton, ME. While she continues her career as a public school music teacher, Ken devotes his time to composing music, producing music videos, gardening and keeping house. Performing and rehearsing have ground to a halt with the isolation required by the virus, but the  more solitary aspects of his life continue unabated. 

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