"If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had some help."
This statement is attributed to Alex Haley, author of Roots, who kept a picture in his office of a turtle sitting on a fence post. To him, this image held a powerful message: each of us is where we are because of the help we have received from others.
We often look at the success of others and extol their hard work, their talents and abilities that got them where they are in Iife. We may even be tempted to pat ourselves on the back as we remember the struggles and sacrifices we made to get to where we are today. In the movie Shenandoah, the father, played by Jimmy Stewart, offers a blessing before every meal in which he takes full credit for everything on the table. He prays, “Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it and harvested it. It wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t be eatin’ it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog boned hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same for this food we are about to eat. Amen.”
But despite one’s hard work, despite the talents and abilities with which one has been gifted, everyone is like the turtle sitting on the fence post. We have experienced the help, the encouragement, and the inspiration of others. I know that I have. I can look back on my life and see the teachers who taught me the love of learning; the coaches who taught me to give 110% of my effort; the Sunday School teachers who taught me the love of Jesus; the friends who gave me a spirit of adventure and courage; and my mom and dad who fostered in me an independent spirit and gave me opportunities to discover God’s call on my life. My life is built on the foundation of others who offered the best of their selves to help me discover the best of myself.
At this time in the life of our church, we have entered into a capital campaign that we are calling Foundations for Generations. We are raising $3.3 million dollars so that we can continue building on the foundations laid by all of those who came before us. I have heard so many stories of families and individuals who loved this church in the past and gave of their time and money to build a strong foundation of faith, worship, service and mission. Generations of people have passed through the doors of Glenn Memorial and have come to know of the love of God because of those who laid the foundation. We now have the challenge and opportunity to do the same for future generations. May our gifts of time and money enable others to discover their place in the kingdom of God as we continue building on the strong foundation of our forebears.