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The Story Is Told Of An English Farmer

TheDiscipleMD

The story is told of an English farmer at work one day in his field when he saw a party of huntsmen riding about his farm.  Concerned that they might ride into the field where the crop could be damaged by the horses, he sent one of his workmen to shut the gate and then keep watch over it and on no account was he to open it.

He had barely arrived at this post when the huntsmen came up and ordered the gate to be opened. He declined to do so, stating the orders he had received and steadfastly refused to open the gate in spite of the threats and bribes, as one after another of the hunters came forward.

Then one of the riders came up and said in commanding tones, “My boy, do you know me?  I am the Duke of Wellington, one not accustomed to being disobeyed, and I command you to open that gate, that I and my friends may pass through.”

The boy lifted his hat, and before the man whom all of England delighted to honor, answered firmly, “I am sure that the Duke of Wellington would not wish me to disobey orders.  I must keep this gate shut and not suffer anyone to pass but by my masters expressed permission.”

Greatly pleased, the Duke lifted his own hat, and said, “I honor a man or boy who can neither be bribed nor frightened into doing wrong.  With an army of such soldiers, I could not only conquer the French, but the world.”

“…the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life. That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Mountains to Climb”, April 2012, GC)

christ resurrection

When Death Is Welcomed!

TheDiscipleMD

“Death would be welcomed” is what he said to me as I sat next to him on his bed the month before he died from pancreatic cancer.  My brother was in terrible pain and he grimaced in agony just saying the words.  My brother always had a positive outlook,  no matter what was going on in his life. So to hear him say that, was an indication of how much suffering he was going through.  I was reminded that, no matter the life we live, none of us are exempt from the natural laws of this world.

Over twenty years ago Boyd K. Packer said this:

“The very purpose for which the world was created, and man introduced to live upon it, requires that the laws of nature operate in cold disregard for human feelings. We must work out our salvation without expecting the laws of nature to be exempted for us. Natural law is, on rare occasions, suspended in a miracle. But mostly…like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda,  (we) wait endlessly for the moving of the water.” (GC, April 1991, “The Moving of the Water”)

All of us should take great comfort in the above statement. It provides for me at least, a reinforced understanding that this life is a testing ground and that the laws of nature are rarely superseded by the hand of Deity. Indeed, none of us would expect that after driving our cars off the side of a mountain road that the laws of gravity would be suspended and that somehow our autos would float to the ground below. That is why we drive on the road and not over cliffs in order to reach our destinations. Over the cliff is quicker, but on the road is proven to be safer.

We have faith for miracles, but more importantly we have real hope in the understanding of the Lord’s grand plan of salvation. In this life all of us suffer to some degree or another.  Some suffer a lifetime. In the above address by Boyd K. Packer, he makes mention of the pool of Bethesda in the Savior’s day. Mentioned by John in his gospel, the waters of this pool were said to have healing powers. Tradition had it that the first in the water after it ‘stirred’ would be healed of their infirmity. Many, because of their handicaps could never be the first in the pool. But still they waited and hoped. Be it allegorical or factual, many, as quoted by Elder Packer, “wait(ed) endlessly for the moving of the water.”

There are many, like my brother, who are only relived of their pain in this life, by death. As I sat next to him that day, and heard his cry, I caught a glimpse of his agony and also of his faith. Death is not the end and my brother knew it. His hope and faith was best expressed in something he said to my sister. “When I pass to the other side, do you think Mom will be the first one there to greet me?” he said.

For my brother, and for all faithful followers of Jesus Christ, it isn’t a question of there being an afterlife; when death is welcomed,  it is just a question of procedure.

 

 

 

 

coat of envy

Let Us Shed Our Coats of Jealousy

TheDiscipleMd

We are all familiar with the story of Joseph and his “coat of many colors”. His father, in a gesture of love and admiration gave him a beautiful coat.

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. (Gen. 37:3-4).

Eventually his brothers, filled with jealousy and perhaps chided by the young Joseph’s brashness, sold him into Egypt as a slave. We all know that over time the story has a happy ending with the reuniting of the brothers but what of this “jealousy” that propelled his brothers into such a dastardly deed. It is an emotion that can cause “good” people, even the most elect, to do “bad” things. It caused the great King Saul to seek the life of David, Pharaoh to fight against Moses and the Pharisees to crucify the Savior. As Jeffrey Holland mentioned in his great sermon on the Prodigal son, it caused the faithful brother of the wayward one to be “haunted by the green-eyed monster of jealousy. He feels taken for granted by his father and disenfranchised by his brother, when neither is the case”(“The Other Prodigal”, Ensign,July 2002).

Jealousy is a very powerful emotion. Yes, left unchecked, jealousy can not only cause the ruin of nations, but it can cause the loss of our very souls. If we examine our own lives I think we will discover that this emotion too often comes to the forefront of our lives. There are endless ways for jealousy to rear its ugly head in our lives. When a friend speaks of how successful their children are becoming,  or talk of a new home they are buying,  or when someone gets a fancy car, earns a degree, receives a calling or shows a talent. Do we feel happy, or is their coat of many colors causing us to be green with envy?

I don’t know all the answers on how to overcome such “jealousy” but I do know that if we pattern our lives after the Savior’s, that this thing we call “jealousy” will not be a part of our life. There is no mention of it vexing the Savior. Humility was His greatest attribute and it is that attribute that will help free us from this insidious attribute. It is not only a carrier of spiritual darkness, it causes great sadness, unhappiness and often sorrow. Let us follow the example of the Savior and be devoid of jealousy towards our brothers and sisters. Let us shed our “coats of jealousy”.

gone with the wind

When It Comes To Second Chances (Are They ‘Gone With the Wind’?)

TheDiscipleMD

The theater is now called “AFI (American Film Institute) Silver Theatre and Cultural Center” and it is located just blocks outside the Nation’s Capital in Silver Spring, Maryland. It has been restored to its original 1938 condition and it is now one of the areas shining stars. It is a cultural center dedicated to artists, educators, and audiences of the world. But back in the fall of 1972, it was just a movie house to me. It was there that my date and I sat through one of the longest and most boring movies I have ever seen in my life. I mean the film lasted three hours and forty-two minutes. They had to have an intermission for fear that some of the audience members would commit suicide! Do you know how tough it is for a sixteen year old boy to maintain a meaningful dialogue with a girl for almost four hours! I can still recall the big screen showing the words “Intermission” on it. “Intermission!”, I remember thinking, “I thought this movie was over!”. Alas, by the time the movie came to an end, Rhett Butler’s famous final words of “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”, was the best way to describe how I felt about the entire experience of viewing “Gone with the Wind”.

So, there I was, peacefully watching TV the other night when I came upon a “special” that named the five favorite movies of all-time. It peaked my interest. What movie could it be that had won over the hearts of the people? Well, you guessed it, “Gone with the Wind” topped the list. I have read and seen these types of lists before, many times. And “Gone with the Wind” is always near or at the top. I can never understand it. I have had hundreds of opportunities to buy this “great” movie on sale, or watch it on TV. Each time I consider buying it or watching it I can’t get past my 1972 experience. So….my 1972 experience is what I use to gauge the worth of this movie. What a pity! I mean, could it be that when I was sixteen I just wasn’t mature enough to care about this movie? Could it be that at sixteen I didn’t “get” the movie? Or could it be that I was more interested in my date that night than the plot of an old movie made in 1939?

So, I made a vow the other night that I was going to give this “Gone with the Wind” another chance. Sometime this year I am going to watch this “classic” and see what all the fuss is about. Maybe I will find that it will be one of my all-time favorites! I’ll never know if I don’t give it a “second” chance.

Too often in life we have experiences that are less than desirable. For many people that “undesirable” is organized religion. Their youthful experiences are negative and they swear off religion because it was “boring” and they didn’t get anything out of it. They are unwilling to give religion another look. A look that is more seasoned. A second look that might produce a different outcome. They end up losing out on the joy that comes through the constant living of the principles as taught by Christ. Sometimes we are guilty of not giving things a “second” look, or people a “second” chance. And really, who among us would be saved lest the Lord gave us a “second” chance. The way of the Lord is that of giving “second” chances. Perhaps no other story illustrates the story of “second” chances better than the story of Jonah and the Whale. The Lord called him to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jonah refused the call and fled. The Lord had him swallowed up in the belly of the whale where he had time to think about the call he had rejected. In the belly of the whale Jonah got a “second” change to say “yes”, which he did. However, Jonah didn’t learn much from being given a second chance because he lamented to the Lord that he didn’t destroy the inhabitants of Nineveh. Why? Because they heeded his words and repented. The people of Nineveh had been given a “second” chance by the Lord, but not by Jonah. The fickleness of man are manifest so often when it comes to giving others a “second” chance.

All of us want second chances.  All of us need second chances in life. Let us be kind and forgiving of others. Don’t let giving others a second chance go by the wind.  And let’s not make ‘losing my religion’ (R.E.M.) permanent because of our youthful pride.

 

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