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Life lessons from Mary Ann

My favorite character on the old TV sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” was Mary Ann played by Dawn Wells.

She was wholesome and down to earth, always in good spirits with unwavering optimism. She wasn’t threatened by Ginger being more glamorous or with Mrs. Howell being more sophisticated. Mary Ann was Mary Ann. So, it seems fitting for Dawn to write a book from Mary Ann’s perspective on life. In the book, she provided, “Mary Ann’s Top 10 List for Living and Loving.”

1. It’s OK to pull back.

2. It’s OK to be shy.

3. It’s OK to be uncomfortable.

4. It’s OK to want more.

5. It’s OK to experiment and grow.

6. It’s OK to know the person you are with.

7. It’s OK to wait.

8. It’s OK to put yourself out there.

9. It’s OK to have a bad day.

10. It’s OK to keep trying.

You can pull back, be shy and uncomfortable but want more. You can experiment and grow but know who is influencing you. Be patient, wait, but, also put yourself out there. Bad days come, but keep trying.

In the Bible, Paul writes a letter to a struggling church in a city filled with negative influences. He was encouraging the church to set an example to defeat the tremendous problems swirling around them. He writes, “I fall to my knees and pray to the Father. The Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

What should be our response to what is happening? We fall to our knees and pray.

What should we pray for? God’s unlimited resources will empower us with inner strength.

What are those resources? Paul’s answer is our guide:

1. Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.

2. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

3. You will understand how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is.

4. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.

5. You will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

What are our options? Fall to your knees and pray that God’s unlimited resources will empower you with inner strength. Christ will make his home in your heart. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. You will understand how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is. You will experience the love of Christ and be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Amazing! Here is a recent example of God’s resources in action.

Steve experienced a lot recently. Despite being careful, several weeks ago, both Steve and his wife tested positive and became sick with COVID-19. They were extremely ill for a few days. On top of that, Steve ended up in the hospital shortly after that for heart issues. But a few days ago, Steve shared the following email with our men’s group.

First, he shared a story about Lady Gaga at the inauguration to sing the National Anthem. She was worried about going down the steps of the Capitol, so they found a Marine to escort her. While waiting, Lady Gaga confessed she was nervous and felt this was the biggest performance of her life. The Marine assured her she would do well but then asked if she would like to pray. Right then and there they prayed for support. God brought this Marine and a big-time celebrity together for prayer.

Steve then shared how he felt his own prompting from God.

“I was coming back from Williamsburg and decided to stop by the Mattaponi reservation. We usually provide food and toys around Christmas. We went into the food pantry and I noticed the shelves were bare. They gave out all the food and were not expecting more.” Steve then asked us, “We had great response to our food drives to help them at the holidays. Do we want to continue this, maybe every few months?”

Quite honestly, Steve should be home receiving attention and ministry ideas from us, but instead, just like the Marine helping Lady Gaga, he placed himself in the right place at the right time, listened to God’s Holy Spirit and came up with an idea that will allow all of us to help a group of people in need.

Steve is one example of many occurring within our churches and community. God’s Holy Spirit is providing opportunities for ministry. We are in difficult times, no doubt. This pandemic has taken a toll. But in the midst of disaster, we find God’s people making a difference.

Mary Ann would say to us, “You can pull back, be shy and uncomfortable but want more. You can experiment and grow but know who is influencing you. Be patient, wait, but also put yourself out there. Bad days come but keep trying.”

God would add, “Fall to your knees and pray that God’s unlimited resources will empower you with inner strength. Christ will make his home in your heart. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. You will understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. You will experience the love of Christ and be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Amen.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.