wilson-volleyball

What ‘Wilson’ Taught Me

TheDiscipleMD

Have you ever felt alone? I mean really alone, with no one to talk to? I don’t know if I can say that I have experienced such a feeling but I know there are many that do. And while those with faith can rely on heavenly communication with Deity, there is something to be gained by interaction with another human.

We are into a season of great joy and celebration, but also one that can canker the soul of many who are elderly, rejected, or ill; be it mental or physical. All of us need the companionship of others. There is a reason God declared:

“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

He, of course, was referring both to men and women. It really isn’t good to be alone. All alone! In the movie “Castaway” the lead character is marooned alone on an island for four years. During that time he “creates” another person in the form of a volleyball. Using his blood he paints a face on his imaginary companion aptly named, “Wilson,” after the manufacturer. After four years of a ‘relationship’ with ‘Wilson’ he is unable to save him in the middle of his escape back to civilization. I must admit, that watching the lead character wail out, “I’m sorry Wilson,” when he is unable to save him as the volleyball floats away into the ocean brought me to tears. The pitiful nature of it all! The death of this imaginary friend struck such a chord in my heart as it is clear that none of us can survive this weary journey without the support of others.

As we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, let our Father’s words spoken to the first parents ring in our hearts;

“It is not good that the man should be alone…”

Let us look for those who need a friend, a visit, a lifting hand, a hug or embrace. As the Savior taught, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40

christus replica

The Thin Line Between Heaven And Here!

TheDiscipleMD

A few weeks ago my wife and I visited the cemetery where my sister, brother and brother in-law are buried. It is always sobering to visit the graveside of a loved one. Once so alive and full of life, they now only read as names on a slab of marble or chunk of granite. I know them for who they were, and still are. So when I see their gravestone I don’t see the rock. I see their faces, their lives, and hear the laughter of their voices.To me they are still alive!

After taking time to visit our loved ones, my wife and I took some time to walk around and visit other graves. There, those that have lived became ‘less personal’ and were reduced to a graven image of a car, a horseback rider, a skier, a hunter, a housewife, or a Christian, depending upon what had been engraved upon the stone. There were faces of couples and poems and sayings galore, with flowers and varied assortment of things that decorated the sacred stones. The graves there held those who had lived to 100 to those who had lived less than a day. As I gazed about the land, filled with such monuments, I recalled the words of an ancient prophet, who upon seeing the destruction of his people,  cried out, “…behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.”

I could not help but also think of my own mortality and that someday I would join all those buried before me. Indeed, every hundred years or so the earth takes back every body that walks upon it. If not for my faith and hope in Jesus Christ it would have been a depressing scene. Yet, as I stood there I felt neither fear nor emptiness because I knew that those I have loved have just taken a train to the next station. My faith in the resurrection as provided by the Savior brings such salve to the wound of my soul.

I am still here, with you, but as I stood there that day, I was as certain then as I am today, that there is a thin line between heaven and here, and crossing it is only a step away.

 

man in mirror

I Want To Like My Eternal Companion

TheDisicpleMD

Many years ago I stepped off of the airplane into a new world. I might as well have died and gone to a different planet. I stood as a young missionary on the ramp looking out on a land I had never seen before. It was Argentina, the assignment of my church mission call.  It was if I had gone back in time twenty to thirty years. The cars were older looking, the landscape was unfamiliar, the clothes were strange and they spoke a language that was foreign to my ears.  As I walked down the ramp onto the concourse there was only one thing in my life that hadn’t instantly changed; me! I felt as if I was a character out of a bad “Twilight Zone” episode who had been dropped into a different world.  It was a great lesson to me that everything could change in an instant and that all aspects of my life were temporary but the essence of who I am is eternal! The other night I was watching a show on the life of the Kennedy family. There was a statement made by the patriarch of the Kennedy family, Joseph Kennedy, that left me pondering. He said, “It’s not what you are, it’s what people think you are”. I guess he meant that “image” was more important in getting yourself elected to public office than substance. While this statement might have a ring of truth in the political arena, it certainly doesn’t have any value in the eternities. “What you are” is and will always be “who you are!”

I have traveled with him all my life. He is my eternal companion. Most times I have enjoyed his company, but on occasion he has done things that have embarrassed me. He has also done things that have made me proud. Sometimes I think he is brilliant, yet at other times he seems as “dumb” as a brick. He will never leave me alone, so I desperately want to like him. I want to respect him for who he is and for what he stands for. I composed a poem about him called, “The Value and Worth of the Man”. It reads:

The image of the man he sees reflected each morning

Has changed vastly over these many years.

It’s a reflection that can often bring him to tears.

 

His once youthful and good-looking face

Is laced with wrinkles by sun of the day.

His hair is thinned and starting to turn grey.

 

All his friends can see, too, the physical change,

But only he can see the soul within

Its values and whether it is free from sin

 

So no matter what other men may think

About him, and if they say he is OK,

His worth comes only from what he can say

Of the value and worth of the man he sees

In the mirror at the end of day

 

I have always believed that some people really can fool “all the people, all of the time”, when it comes to character. But you can’t fool yourself or God. I learned in Argentina that I would never get away from me.  Your assured eternal companion, regardless of the life you live, is going to be you! Be true to yourself because eternity is a long time. It’s more enjoyable to make the journey when you travel it with someone you like!

 

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My Father’s Mansion

TheDiscipleMD

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal”- (Albert Pine)

Each of us will brush up against others during our sojourn here on earth. Sadly the above quote applies to both the good and the bad that remain after each of us leave this life. Almost all who come to this earth leave footprints, some soft and small, others large and deep. But whether small or large, deep or soft, all of us have the opportunity to leave imprints of immortal significance. Some of our immortal imprint is left in our posterity of course, but those without posterity can also leave lasting impressions on the world. Jesus Christ himself being the chief example! His life, a true life of sacrifice and devotion to others, stands as the premier model in living a life of “doing for others”. And who can argue against the fact that the influence of his life “remains” and is “immortal”.

The attendance or size of a person’s funeral precession is certainly not an indication of the size of one’s footprint. I have noticed over the years that the funerals of a young person taken in sudden death are often highly attended and publicized, while the very old seem to slip into the grave with hardly a notice. The old person almost seems to slip out the back door of life, without so much as a graceful bow or a shake of the hand. It is a bit unfortunate as their lives have often left large and deep imprints on the lives of many. There are a number of reasons why this happens but I think it is important to understand that an ignominious death is not equivalent to an ignominious life. After all, Christ had but a handful attend his harried funeral.

I am reminded of a dream I had many years ago. I found myself in a house completely barren and built out of particle board. As I stood in the living room looking out the opening of a frame that should have encased a large picture window but didn’t, I heard my name called out and recognized the voice to be that of my Father. I turned and He proudly asked how I liked his new house. Somewhat bewildered due to its shabbiness and unfinished nature; I asked “Why didn’t you build a better one?” To which he replied, “Because I had no hammer and no nails.” No sooner had he said those words when I spied through the large window casing a multitude of people coming up the road carrying tools and material. They were all smiling. I noted some were relatives and some were past members of the congregation my father had served over as Bishop. Some I didn’t recognize at all. It was a sight to behold as the numbers went on as far as the eye could see. All were carrying some tool or materials for the express purpose of building a beautiful house for my father. As can only happen in a dream, within seconds the house was complete. There next to my father’s shabby, unfinished small home, was a magnificent mansion. It was very large and most beautiful. I looked back at my father and saw the tears spill down his cheeks as he was presented the keys to this gorgeous mansion. I then awoke.

Upon waking from my sleep I knew right away of its meaning. The shabby house of particle board is all any man can build for himself in our Father’s Kingdom. However the testimony of those lives who someone have touched through service, devotion, sacrifice and obedience serve as a witness as to the type of home waiting for them in the kingdom of our Father. Their testimonies will rise to the Father crying “We will build for him/her a mansion for all the good they have done.”

Certainly Albert Pine hit on a truth when he said that ‘…what we do for others and the world remains.” But I might add, that not only what one does for others is “immortal”, but that service “remains” as an “immortal” testimony which brings to the worthy recipient “eternal” and “celestial” life with God.

 

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