Take my life, and let it be…

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2016

“Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to Thee…” –  Frances Ridley Havergal

Those hefty words are from one of my favorite hymns, one that is more dear to me each time that I sing it, or hear it sung. Those words are the reason for this Conservation Corner, but it will take me a little while to make that thought a reality for you.

This hymn is from church, from the Presbyterian hymnal. I do not know whether it is one that is sung in other churches; it may very well be. But let me first talk about church, and my thought about why our mainline churches are dying. Young people do not go to church these days and there is a reason.

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I think that churches are dying because those who come are not ‘hearing’ the message. Why they are not hearing the message is unclear to me. I can explain it in terms of the parable of the ten talents, where the landowner gives his tenants each ten talents (coins) with the directive to make those talents grow. One of the tenants invested all his money unwisely and lost it all, one spent his on frivolous stuff and thus ended up with nothing, one saved/hoarded all of his thinking that this was the wise move, and one invested wisely and ended up with more than the original gift. Guess which tenant got the prize?

I am thinking that the reason why our mainline churches are dying is that the church is trying to put us all in the same mold. To be a good Christian you must do this, or that. You must donate to the church for upkeep of the building, or for the homeless, or for the starving children on the other side of the world.

This would work so long as we all held the same passions, and talents. We are not the same. We have raised our children to believe that they are special, and that they can be whoever they want to be, and do whatever they want to do with their lives.

The molds no longer fit. When most of us went to college there were maybe 20 possible majors; now there are hundreds from which to choose. Our children live in a world of possibilities unknown to us old folks.

Fifteen years or so ago I wanted to apply for a job, and was forced to write my first resume. A friend, June Ellen Bradley, told me to write down all the jobs I’d had in the past, and try to make some sense out of it. The list ranged from waittressing, cleaning houses, starting a bakery, buying and selling land, raising a family, cooking at summer camps, working with pony club, being the land protection person at PAC. The list was a big jumble.

But there was a very obvious common thread: with the exception of the waitressing and house cleaning that I did purely for the money when the children were small, all were connected with land and the environment. When I was able to see the thread, I realized that I love the land and that’s why I consistently chose work that involved land and land preservation. Yes, I love music, but not enough to practice eight hours a day. Yes, I love the land, and will work at it eight hours a day.

Going back to the parable of the ten talents, what has the landlord given you? What is the common thread of your life’s work? Or maybe, what have you always wanted to do with your life to make this world better?

One of my favorite quotes is from Susan Dart McCutcheon, as her response to telemarketers when they called. Her response was, “Hurry up and tell me what you want quickly, because I haven’t got much time left and I don’t want to waste it.” She died just a few years later.

Take time to figure out who you are really deep down inside, and what you love. Then do that. The possibilities are endless. I believe that we are all children of God, and we’ve all been given ten talents.

Now, let me point out at this point that this is a Conservation Corner, and it would not be good for you to look deep down into your heart and decide that residential or commercial development of farmland is your passion. That would simply not be the appropriate response!