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I Am A Fast Walker! (That Ticks Some People Off!)

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago while serving as a missionary in Argentina, I was paired with an athletic companion who, as a former college football player, was tall and large.  In fact, after the mission he ended up playing some professional ball. As I was much smaller , it wasn’t a surprise to find myself  frantically trying to keep up with him when we rode our bikes to get around the city of Buenos Aires. His legs were much longer and stronger and despite my best efforts I found myself lagging behind him. He would always have to stop and wait for me.  I felt bad and wanted to keep up with him but the law of physics was against me.

It wasn’t until we had been together for a couple of months  that he disclosed that there was a personal motivation behind his desire to out bike me to any location.  His reason and motivation both shocked and surprised me. He said he was sick of how fast I walked and he wanted to pay me back by riding his bike faster to make me mad. I was totally taken off guard as I had no ideal that he had been upset at me, and that my apparent fast walking was a problem.  He had perceived that I was walking fast on purpose to show him up. The reality is that I am, and have always been a ‘fast walker.’ I guess that ticks some people off!

In retrospect the whole exchange seems humorous but I learned a small lesson in life. Communication is critical in making any relationship work. Those we associate with can’t read our minds. If something is bothering us, I think it best that we try to verbally work things out instead of letting our feelings fester to a boiling point. When we do so, we should follow the admonition given years ago in a conference talk given by L. Lionel Kendrick. He charged:

“Christlike communications are expressed in tones of love rather than loudness. They are intended to be helpful rather than hurtful. They tend to bind us together rather than to drive us apart. They tend to build rather than to belittle.

Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.

The real challenge that we face in our communications with others is to condition our hearts to have Christlike feelings for all of Heavenly Father’s children. When we develop this concern for the condition of others, we then will communicate with them as the Savior would…” (Oct, 1988, “Christlike Communication”)

When we take time to express our thoughts and feelings with others we have a better chance of overcoming anger and hurt feelings. Sometimes, as in the case of my relationship with my missionary companion, an offense perceived was an offense unintended. I still am a ‘fast walker’ but since that conversation with my missionary companion, I at least recognize and try to control my compulsion to walk at an ‘un-Godly’ pace.

May we all strive to communicate in a Christlike manner with love in our hearts and forgiveness in our souls. In so doing we are making a fast walk towards an attribute of Godliness.

dog howling

When Thy Neighbor’s Dog Offends You!

TheDiscipleMd

I don’t know who was the first to post a sign on their property warning us, but Paul of the New Testament was probably the first to write it down: “Beware of dogs…” (Philippians 3:2) And certainly the psalmist was thinking of me as I lie awake in bed each night  to the sounds of my neighbors barking dog when he wrote:

“For dogs have compassed me…,” and  surely he knew of me when I roll over and say to my wife, “Deliver my soul…my darling from the power of the dog.” (Psalms 22:20)

I have owned and loved many dogs over my lifetime.  I have one now.  But I must say, that it takes adherence to all of my Christian teachings to not complain about the 24/7 howls of my neighbors dog. Indeed, the words written in  Ecclesiastes, “… for a living dog is better than a dead lion,” brings into question if the writer was ever subjected to the constant howlings of a canine.

I love my neighbors, they are wonderful people, but what to do when their dog offends me? I know they love their dog and I also know that “…a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city…” (Proverbs 18:19), so I do not want to offend them by complaining. Yet, what to do? I can only think of the admonition of Paul that I need to ‘endure all things,’ so I am trying to do so.

So please, say a little prayer for me, if you please, and help me to take comfort and hope in the words of Isaiah that my neighbor’s,  ”dumb dog will not bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber…” (56:10) and that by so doing I too may also slumber and dream of a world where all dogs go to heaven, but where none can bark.

tears

God Will Wipe Away The Tears!

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago I was lying on the operating table for an injury I had sustained while playing softball. The anesthesiologist looked down at me and said,”Start counting down, beginning at 100!” I started, 100, 99, 98…” That’s all I remember. Next thing I know, hours had passed and I found myself on a bed, freezing to death in a recovery room. It was the strangest feeling to have hours of your life pass, without any recollection of anything. It was as if someone simply erased hours out of my life. I found out that when you go under general anesthetic, that’s the common experience. It’s not like sleeping, it’s different. It’s like having a complete forgetfulness of the time you are under. In the snap of a finger hours are gone. Your living…yet!

Due to this experience, it isn’t that hard for me to understand the doctrine of a “veil” being placed over my mind, blocking my knowledge of a pre-mortal life. It’s really not so different. I know I lived, but I can’t remember. The belief in a pre-existence is more believable to me than just a coming together of genetic materials from two humans, my parents, which formed me into who I am. Interestingly, the belief in a pre-mortal existence is not a doctrine in Christianity, even though there are a number of Biblical passages regarding it.  Among them are references found in Jeremiah, and in Paul’s epistle’s to the Romans and Ephesians.

The gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in this the latter-days, gives us such a greater understanding of who we are, and of our relationship with Heavenly Father. I consider the understanding of who we are to be “fundamental” in understanding the meaning of life. Without a “simple” understanding of our purpose here,  life can seem…well…pointless! And so it feels for many who go through this life without this knowledge. And when one has no comprehension of the plan of life, it can be pretty discouraging. It’s discouraging because this world is not only full of joy and happiness, it is also home to injustice, inequity, sadness and pain.

Great are the promises of the Lord to his people. In the great revelation of Saint John the Divine, he saw a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1) And he saw a New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. (vs. 2) And John heard a voice proclaim:

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (vs.3-4)

I am grateful for and understand of the plan of salvation. It helps me to have great faith in the promises of the gospel. I have great faith that someday peace and harmony will reign on this earth under the direction of our Lord and Savior. I have a testimony that we lived before we came to this earth. This life is just part of that plan.

If we can remain faithful to the covenants and promises we have made, the Lord will not let us down. The time will come when the veil will be removed from our minds, and we will see Him as we knew him. And we will fall down and worship him as our rightful Savior. And He will come again to rule and reign and wipe away our tears.

Jesus Christ slums

Did I Not Speak Peace To Your Mind?

TheDiscipleMd

Recently I was inspired by a book entitled, “The Crucible of Doubt”, written by Terrly and Fiona Givens. I would recommend it.  There are wonderful concepts that reflect on the quest for faith, as states the subtitle. I quote from their book this insightful challenge.

“It is useful at such moments of doubt, if we can’t exercise faith in God, to exercise faith in ourselves. We can trust that it was a good and trustworthy self that once knew certain things to be true-and may one day again…remembering rather than experiencing moves us toward greater independence and insulates us from the vicissitudes of the moments. Brigham Young thought God’s intention was to make us as independent in our sphere as he is in His. Such independence may require that we learn to act on the basis of what drives us from within, rather than what acts upon us from without. It may be for this reason that the heavens close from time to time, to give us room for self-direction.”

If we struggle from time and time and doubt enters our mind, the Givens remind the reader:

“One can see the Lord gently tutoring us to replace immediacy with memory in section six of the Doctrine and Covenants, when He says to Oliver, “If you desire a greater witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of theses things.  Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”

I am reminded that this life is full of highs and lows. This ebb and flow of life often includes our spirituality. In those low moments of doubt about if the Lord cares about us, or loves us, or even exits; perhaps we should remember the lesson of Oliver, and cast our minds on prior nights that the Lord spoke peace unto our minds!  What greater witness do we need?

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