singing in the rain 2

Singing Through Rainy Days and Mondays

TheDiscipleMD

 

“Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old

Sometimes I’d like to quit, nothin’ ever seems to fit

Hangin’ around, nothin’ to do but frown

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down”

Rainy days and Mondays always seem to get us down.  Sometimes when it’s a rainy Monday, we don’t even want to get out of bed. Karen and Richard Carpenter captured the essence of this in their hit song from 1971, entitled appropriately, “Rainy Days and Mondays”. The interesting thing about rainy days is that they are associated with moods, such as; depressing, dark, somber, cold, and even death. One word that we often forget to associate with “rainy days” is life. We all intellectually know that rain gives life but somehow the word, “life”, takes a backseat to the more depressing adjectives. We normally associate life to the word, “sunshine”. So, sunny days are bright, encouraging and uplifting. We feel like getting out and doing something. It motivates us, whereas rainy days seem to make us withdraw. Again, we all know that too much sun makes for a desert or death. Nevertheless, sunshiny days are associated with the positive and rainy days with the negative. However, both kinds of days are not only needed, but are essential to life.

A few months ago a brother got up in Fast and Testimony meeting and bore a strong witness of Jesus Christ and his saving grace. You could tell it was heartfelt and I was moved by his testimony. I also know that he is going through some “rainy” days that are taxing his resources. I spoke with him after the meeting and told him how much I appreciated his words and also shared with him that its interesting how “tough” times, while not desired, are times in which our roots seem to sink deeper into the soil of the gospel. He agreed and we laughed together about the complexity of life.  Most of us don’t like the “rainy days” that fall upon us, but we should remember that without them, there is no “life”. Repeated throughout both religious and secular history is the sad tale of civilizations and individuals who have been under the constant rays of the sun. When given no “rainy” days, their spiritual roots shrivel and eventually die. Too much sunshine eventually leads to death, sometimes physical, almost always spiritual.

So, the next time we feel it is raining all over us, let us remember that without it, there would be no spiritual life. Let’s look at those days in a different way. Let’s not assign it words associated with death, but rather, those that give life.  There is another song called, “Singin in the Rain”.  Perhaps that song best captures how we should look at rainy days that come into our lives. Perhaps we should do as Gene Kelly so eloquently did; sing and dance! In so doing, the falling rain will invigorate our soul and give us the energy and strength to carry on! We should enjoy the sun when it is shinning, but we should never forget the hard lesson learned,  that it is the rainy days that strengthen our roots, and bring countless unrecognized blessings into our lives.  None of us pray for rain to come into our lives, but a wise and loving father knows that without it, we shall surely wither and die.

 

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Bone Of My Bones!

TheDiscipleMD

A few years ago my wife and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary  on the same day that a famous political couple announced their separation after forty years of marriage. I recall thinking that even after many decades of marriage, you need to continually nourish your relationship!  Even this past month I know of three couples, who have been married for many years, who have decided to call it quits.  For that reason I have found that it is critical to continue to flame the embers of a marriage.  On our 32nd anniversary,  (we have now been married 36 years), we went away for a couple of days. We had a blast! I recall when we checked out of our hotel, my wife looked at me and said she had a great time just being together for a couple of days. What was interesting was what she said to me next.  ”We really didn’t do anything, not even shop that much. Yet I had so much fun!” It was true, we had spent most of the time driving around Pennsylvania looking for a hotel. They were all booked within an hour of where we were planning on staying. I learned that a short getaway with my wife should first include a hotel reservation. Although, I must say, that part of the weekend fun was just looking for a place to stay. Because I found out that just driving around with the girl you love can have greater rewards than an expensive dinner, movie or other fancy plans. Sometimes the gift of spending time together can bring forth greater fruits than anything else.

Together we have tried to follow the admonition of Paul, “We hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things” (2 Corinthians 1) When you spend a lifetime with someone you either end up like this political couple,  growing apart and divorcing, or you draw closer with the trials.  To have a successful marriage you should learn not to blame; it does no good. You should learn to forgive, because you need forgiveness. You should learn to focus on the good in your mate, because there is plenty there; and also to turn a blind eye to their faults because you have them too!  Sadly so many marriages are shattered because of selfishness.

All I can say, is thank goodness my wife has never has given up on me even though I have been guilty at times of having the TV up too loud, the house at 68 degrees, or calling her name too much. I have been found lacking in the wardrobe department,  or not understanding all her moods. Yet, it has been a great partnership and will continue to be so; so long as we both keep our sights fixed on the larger goal of wanting an eternal marriage and a forever family!

The other day as we are driving along and discussing our lives, she spontaneously reached across and laid her hand on top of mine.  As I glanced down, for a moment, it seemed as though her hand melted into mine. She has truly become “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”  (Genesis 2:23)

Miracles 2

Faith In Miracles Is Worth A Try

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago one of my sons, than eleven, calmly approached me to ask if I would buy him an expensive item that was more a luxury than a necessity. My quick response of “No” didn’t seem to surprise nor upset him. As he turned to walk away, he made this simple but profound statement, “Well, it was worth a try!” I laughed to myself, as it was apparent that he thought his chance of success was very limited at best, yet he still had exercised his hope.

This life consists of trials and tribulations. They fit into three categories. One) – those we have passed through, two) – those we are going through, and three) – those we will go through. While so doing, let me suggest to you something that is far more “worth a try” than my young son’s desire for material things. It is found in the seventh chapter of Moroni: which states:

” … have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God….Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men… And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me… And now…if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?…Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain…” (vs. 27, 35-37)

The words of Mormon, written by his son Moroni, remind us that the day of miracles has not ceased. It is only when we have no faith or belief in miracles that they are lost. If we keep the faith, Mormon explains that our faith will bring hope, and hope will bring charity. Faith, hope and charity come to those who are meek and humble followers of Christ. Indeed, an indication of our faithfulness is not whether we have trials; it is how we weather the trials. Oft times the miracle of our trials is that we come out on the other end of our tribulation changed for the better.  Our countenance has improved because we have developed the gift of charity in our personage. Our faith in God is much stronger than before the tribulation. Miracles haven’t ceased! But sometimes the miracle we want is not the miracle we get! No, sometimes the miracle we receive is much greater than the one we ask for. The miracle of a soft heart and a contrite spirit is a much greater gift than anything our Father could bestow upon us.  Many call that the gift of charity which is promised to those that endure! Paul wrote to the Corinthians and called charity one of God’s greatest gifts. (1 Cor. 13:13)

Moroni, Chapter Seven is one of the most spirituality powerful chapters in the entire Book of Mormon. It is as powerful a sermon, given by Mormon, as any address given in a General Conference. Having served as a priesthood leader for decades, I have been privy to stories told by the saints of both great and small miracles that have come into their lives.  Sometimes those miracles are direct and easily seen. Sometimes they are more subtle and occasionally they show up in a different form than anticipated. And I can personally testify that in some of my darkest hours, the seventh chapter of Moroni has been of great strength and comfort to me. Sometimes I have prayed for the removal of a burden that never came, yet the Lord has sustained me and supported me such that I am a much better man today because of it.  Once when I received a prominent priesthood call to serve, a sister who knew me when I was younger said, “Boy, you have come a long way!” In her own way I think she was trying to pay me a compliment.  I took it as such.  I had come a long way but mostly because I had been through some tough times. The refiners fine does have a tendency to make us better people.

May the Lord give us the faith to become partakers of His miracles and the wisdom to be able to recognize them in our lives! May we sum up the courage to have real faith in the promises of the Lord. Having faith in miracles is “worth a try!” I believe, with all my heart, that the day of miracles is not dead!

 

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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