christ knocking on door

O Savior Stay This Night With Me!

TheDiscipleMD

A few years ago the focus of a church meeting was the hymns of our faith. It brought me to reflect upon my favorite hymn. My favorite hymn today is not my favorite hymn of yesteryear. My favorite characters found in the scriptures have been changing, according to my age and life experiences. So too, my favorite hymns have changed over time due to life experiences. I recall from my early youth how I loved the majestic and powerful opening notes of the hymn “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hands”. I always loved hearing the organ open each verse with eight notes that reverberated throughout the chapel which seemed to encourage us Christian warriors to get ready for battle. It almost seemed like a “fight song” of sorts. I loved it so much that I asked if it could be sung at my missionary farewell as the opening song. And it was there, at my missionary farewell that I was introduced to a new favorite hymn, although, if my memory is correct, at the time it wasn’t found in the hymnal.

It is my earliest memory of hearing “Love One Another”. My Mother and sisters sang it! I loved it because of the simple melody and words. I was happy when this beautiful song was added years later to our hymns of praise. That hymn became my favorite for many years. But, as is the case with us all, life presents each with distinct challenges and obstacles. I don’t care how lucky or blessed you are in this life you will not get through it without being tested. For some the tests are numerous, mighty and for lengthy periods of time. Yet, for others they are short and intense. Either way, they test our resolve to be faithful and true. I am no different from most. Some of my challenges have been short and intense; others have been long and hard and continue to this day. Consequently, the inspirational power of some hymns come forward during those trials. Some seem to be written just for us!

I have gleaned great solace from listening and singing many of the church hymns over the years. None more so than my current favorite, “Abide with Me; ‘ Tis Eventide”. It contains within its verses the common occurrence in life of watching the day come to a close and preparing for a long night of darkness and loneliness. Anyone who has ever tackled a tough problem is aware that as darkness falls time seems to slow down. But somehow your mind speeds up as it becomes filled with the tough questions regarding your life, its direction and the trials before you. As your mind empties of the days activities, it starts to refill with the worries of your life. It can consume you! You are in need of hope! The first stanza of “Abide with Me; Tis Eventide” captures that feeling when it says:

Abide with me: ’tis eventide

The day is past and gone;

The shadows of the evening fall,

The night is coming on

It is the feeling of being alone, and without hope that make the impending darkness so forbidding. A gloomy night lies ahead and traveling it solo is not a pleasant thought. But, then comes a welcome guest and the cry of the chorus:

O Savior, stay this night with me;

Behold, ’tis eventide

O Savior, stay this night with me

Behold, ’tis eventide.

I wonder how many choruses of lamentations have been launched throughout history towards heaven as the shadows of evening fall and night is coming on. If you have ever had a sleepless night, you know how small problems become large ones and large ones become insurmountable. Sometimes it seems as though the gates of hell open up between the setting of the sun and its rising. Somewhere during that long night you need someone to hold onto. Someone you can lean on and someone who you know will understand your plight. That someone for me has been the Savior.

Abide with me; ’tis eventide

And lone will be the night

If I cannot commune with thee

Nor find in thee my light.

The darkness of the world, I fear,

Would in my home abide

I cannot speak for everyone but it has been my experience that light can be found in the midst of darkness when we take time to commune with the Savior. He will comfort us in our extremities. He will provide for us a shoulder to lean on, and the strength to carry on. He will give us the fortitude and resolve to make it through the night! I don’t know how it all works, nor do I really need to. I only know that as the dawn has broken on those kinds of nights for me, I have felt that the Savior has accepted my invitation to “stay this night with me” and I have made it through another night. The new day brings new challenges and new opportunities. But I know that the night will come again and I will be left to my thoughts. But, I have gained a testimony that as often as I have pled for Him to “abide with me”, He has stayed. I take great comfort in that knowledge, as I know there is always another night ahead.

 

 

what did I do wrong

“What Did I Do Wrong?”

TheDiscipleMD

Over the course of my lifetime I have held private interviews with thousands of members of the church. Common among almost all has been the sharing of challenges and trials that have tested their faith. Some seemed to gain strength from them, while others faith seemed to falter. I am not totally sure why some seemed to whether the storms while others started to drown, but I think some of it has to do with the understanding of the plan of salvation. I read a statement by H. Wallace Goddard on this subject which I found interesting. He said:

“Latter-day Saints may be especially vulnerable to the rosy world view. We expect to be blessed for doing what is right. Then the sky falls. We don’t marry. Or our made-in-heaven marriage falls apart. Our children stray. Our careers flounder. We ask, “ What did I do wrong?” “Didn’t I have enough faith?” “Is God mad at me?” “Is the ‘good news’ really a deception?” It turns out that doing good does not guarantee a life of contentment and fulfilled dreams. We may be blessed for our efforts with the gift of serenity—or with new challenges. God will provide precisely the experiences that can lead us to greater faith and a closer relationship with Him…The rosy assumption does not hold up very well when we look at the lives of saints. Suffering Job. Joseph Smith. Jeremiah. Adam. Spencer W. Kimball. Jesus. These are good people who gave life their best and still got pummeled.”(The Lesson of the Washing Machine Hose).

The plan of salvation includes agency and the resulting consequences of that great gift. The use of that agency by man has a ripple effect as “no man is an island.” When you add the consequences of “the fall” which introduced death and sin into the world, we can sometimes feel that we are surrounded on all sides with peril. But by having a vision of the eternal nature of life, we can make better decisions that ultimately lead to happiness.

I think all of us know individuals who live difficult lives but end up using their challenges as a way to inspire and bless the lives of others. I think these people come to a realization that they are of value and worth, regardless of their circumstances in life. We can become “bitter” at life’s trials, or we can try to understand that part of the “plan” is learning to overcome “bitterness” and develop attributes of Christ.

“What did I do wrong?” is a question that has its answer packaged in the plan of happiness designed by our Heavenly Father. By understanding that, we find that nothing is ‘going wrong’ in our life. It is just according to plan!

Rolex Press Kit 2010

Prove To Me That God Exists!

TheDiscipleMD

Over the course of my life I have had a number of conversations with individuals who challenge the existence of a supreme being. They want some kind of proof that a God exists.

A number of years ago I took some church youth on a short hike. Prior to the hike I had gone up the trail  a distance and took my wrist watch off and placed it under a tree by the side of the trail and then returned to lead the group. As we came upon my watch, which was clearly visable to everyone, one of the youth picked it up and exclaimed, “Someone lost their watch!”  I replied that perhaps they were wrong in their assumption and that the watch had simply formed itself over the course of many years. A lengthy conversation ensued with the determination that it would be foolish to believe that the watch had just formed itself and that it was clear it was a man-made product.  I admitted that the watch was mine and then we talked for some time about the  world and, that like the watch, the imprint of a supreme being could be found in all aspects of its creation. The watch, like the world, had not simply come together without the help of an intelligence.  I was only echoing the words of Alma when he was challenged regarding the existence of God. he replied:

“…all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” (Alma 30:44)

It has never  been hard for me to believe that there is a God.  I also have full faith that he is a personal God who has an interest in our lives and our destiny.  I believe we are literally sons and daughters of this Being and that he is the father of our spirits. That may be hard for some to accept, but nevertheless, it is not without reason or logic.

In the end there is an argument to be made on both sides of the issue regarding diety. However, I choose to believe in a Heavenly Father because I feel there is logic to my beliefs, and I have faith in the testimonies of the prophets.  I also believe that life has a purpose and that mankind’s destiny is celestial, the proof of which is simply the powerful spiritual feelings that are deeply embedded in my soul.

thumbnailCA2D3MFI

A Monumental View Of Heaven

TheDiscipleMd

Having grown up in the suburbs of Maryland gave me proximity to our Nation’s capital.  In fact, I was born in it.   So, on occasion as a family, mostly when relatives came to town,  we would go sightseeing to Washington D.C.   One of the sites we often visited was the Washington Monument.  Erected in 1884 in commemoration of our first president, it stands 555 feet high, (almost two football fields), and is still the highest building in the city.  It is certainly one of the most famous landmarks of our country. I recall as a small boy playing on the fields surrounding it while Fourth of July fireworks exploded above it in the hot humid air; its white marble obelisk shape silhouetted again the black of the night.  Back in the 1960’s you were allowed to climb the stairway up to the top of the monument.  My siblings and I would enter its doors, then race as fast as we could to see who could get to the top first.  Once there, you have a wonderful view of the entire city as well as parts of the countryside of Maryland and Virginia.  I still recall the beauty of it!

Between the “demands” of high school days, a mission and college, years went by before I found the time to revisit the Washington Monument one hot summer day.  By his time I had become a man, married with a small child.  Fortunately rules had been implemented making the “scaling” of this great monument illegal, thus allowing me the dignity of taking the elevator to the top. When I reached the top for my panoramic view of the area, I saw that something else had changed.  The view!  There, nestled above the tops of the green trees, almost as if it was floating on air, was the majestic Washington D.C. temple. It had been built just a few years before.  The angel Moroni’s gold horn seemed to be sounding to the world “Come to the house of the Lord!” and its white marble seemed to outshine the marbled building in which I stood.

As I stood there that day, my mind started to soak in that sacred edifice and it’s significance in my life.  In it I had made sacred covenants to the Lord to give of all that I had, or would ever have, in building up His kingdom.  It was there that I had entered and promised before Him, angels, and all witnesses that I would love, honor, and cherish my wife, not just for this life, but for eternity.  It was there that promises were made to me that if I would live according to my covenants, my wife, children, and I could “inherit eternal life” together.(Matthew 19:27) It brought to my mind that it represented so much more than the monument I was standing in.  Its spires, that stood reaching to the heavens, represented all of my hopes and dreams as a man. It stood as a monument to my faith in a God, His plan, and of the purpose of my own existence.  In short, it peaked out of the greenery as a reminder that it could give me a glimpse into the eternities.

Now, so many years later, I have a better perspective on the short duration of this “so-called life”. It is temporary, it is short, and it will end sooner than we want or expect.  It is a testing ground of our faith.  It is a battleground for the souls of men.  A visit here is a necessary part of our progression. But, lest we forget our home, we have been provided sanctuaries, places of repose and peace called temples.  They are “monuments” to our God, our Father and our Savior.

I have since returned to the top of the Washington Monument on a number of occasions. But none have been sweeter than that day, when I first saw, from its top, a “monumental view of heaven” from here on earth!

Designed by ThemePix