hide and seek

When Those We ‘Seek’ Don’t Want To Be Found!

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago, before the advent of “soft” contacts, I wore the old fashion “hard” lens. These lens had a tendency to “pop” out of your eye if you had a sudden blow to the head or when you took them out of your eyes at the end of the day. Once while wrestling with one of my kids on a carpeted living room floor one of my lens was jarred loose. I spent an hour looking for the lost lens.  I searched and searched.  I combed the carpet but to no avail. In desperation I took out the vacuum and vacuumed the entire living room carpet. After so doing, I emptied the contents of the bag onto newspaper.  Much to my joy I found the lens. It was intact and with a little water and cleaning it was as good as new. It’s amazing what you will resort to when you want to find something bad enough.

Another time I was leaning over the bathroom sink at the end of the day and went through the ritual of removing my hard lens. In order to get a hard lens out you had to pull the corner of your eye and blink hard and it would pop out into your waiting hand. On this occasion my lens bounced off the palm of my hand and fell onto the counter top, or so I thought. I looked and looked for the lens on the bathroom counter top but to no avail. I looked in the sink, on the floor and carefully examined and removed every item on the counter top. Still no lens! I was so perplexed. Where could it have gone. It bothered me all night till I got ready for bed. As I started to brush my teeth, I squirted toothpaste on my toothbrush and to my great surprise and joy out came the lens. It had lodged itself on the un-capped toothpaste.  It had formed a perfect “dome” on the exposed toothpaste and was virtually invisible, hidden by the color of the paste. I learned from my “lost lens” experiences, that no matter how hard you search, there is always someplace that you have missed.

I think we are all familiar with the parables of the Savior that parallels my “lost lens.”

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (Luke 15:4)

“…what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? (Luke 15:8)

And of course, found in the same chapter of Luke is the story of the well-known “Prodigal Son”. Now the joy I felt in finding my lens, or the women in finding her lost coin, or even the shepherd with his lamb, pales in comparison to the joy of helping a lost brother or sister come back to the fold of Christ. Luke recorded later in his gospel:

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Our mission is to assist the “Son of man” in seeking and saving those that are lost. This is done in many ways. It is done at home, at work, at church, but more importantly it is done through the constant living of the commandment to “love our neighbor as thyself.”

Sometimes finding the lost one can be discouraging. Note in the parable of the coin and in my example of the lens, both are inanimate objects; or in the case of a sheep, at least a willing participant. In attempting to find lost ones there are some individuals that don’t want to be found, or rescued. In fact when they see you they run as fast as they can away from you. They are “running from the searchers.”  Others are drowning and when you throw them a life ring they respectfully push it away: again and again. Still others will do you physical harm if you attempt to be their personal “savior.”

Moral agency is a gift from God our Father. You cannot force others to be found.  You can only provide help and support.  Out of duty and love we should be searching for the lost ones. But it is out of respect that we should honor those who choose not to return with us to the fold.  Let us be both diligent and respectful in our search.

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15). I might add, if no one returns with us at all, we will still have done our duty!

 

resurrection of the just

When The Final School Bell Sounds!

TheDiscipleMD

The words of Paul the Apostle written to the saints:

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Colossians 3:24-25)

I once spoke with a friend who related to me that as he stood over his mother’s grave on the day of her burial, he couldn’t help but reminisce about having attended the funeral and burial of another man years earlier in the same cemetery. This man’s funeral was attended by dignitaries and important people of business, as well as the most influential politicians of the day.  They had come to pay respects to this man and his life as he was a giant in the business industry, well-known, and well-respected.

As my friend stood over his mother’s grave, he said, “I couldn’t help but think that there she lies, her greatest title being that of only a Mother. Yet, she lies buried in the same ground as the man of great wealth and fame. In the end, they both ended up in the same place.”

Indeed the words of another woman, just a mother, seem to echo throughout the eternities.  Upon hearing that she would bear the Son of God, Mary proclaimed:

“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. (Luke 1:52)

Yes, in death, all of us are stripped of this world’s honors. Indeed, we are all dressed in the same uniform when the final school bell sounds.  May we always remember that the honors of man are buried in the ground, while the glory of God soars through the sky…for eternity!

ramblin man

Lord I Was Born A Rambling Man; Not!

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago a group known as the Allman Brothers released a song that opened with these lyrics:

Lord I was born a ramblin’ man

Trying to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can

And when it’s time for leavin’

I hope you understand

That I was born a ramblin’ man

(Ramblin’ Man)

The lyrics go on to tell the sad tale of his upbringing. His father was a gambler and died by violence. He was born in the back of a greyhound bus, signifying why he is who he is! After each verse the chorus repeats that he was “born a rambling man”, which, in the mind of the singer, justifies his inability to live a stable life. While it is true that we are influenced by our background and environment, it is also true that throughout history many individuals, raised under unspeakable conditions have overcome their pasts. No one is born a “rambling” man. It is more that one chooses to continue down the road they have become familiar with. But change can come about for anyone who so desires! The key word is “desire”. One must want to change their path in order to have any hope of success. Once desire is in place, change takes hard work! And because it take hard work, many give in to the thought of “I was born that way”, so…..I will continue as I am. In so doing they give in to the natural man and except their lot in life.

We know that man can change from their natural state to a more spiritual state. That is what conversion is all about. The church website defines conversion as:

“… a process, not an event. Conversion comes as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior. These efforts include exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of sin, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in faith. Although conversion is miraculous and life changing, it is a quiet miracle.”

A key word used above is “efforts”. As I stated, it takes work. The church website uses the word “effort”. Both words speak to the necessity of action on the part of the person who desires to change. In a more practical sense, if we want to change some characteristic about ourselves we must first have the desire to change it, and then work at making that change till it no longer is part of who we are. Some of us might have a problem with temper, or selfishness, or envy or pride. We might struggle with any number of negative traits that we “learned” from our upbringing or perhaps developed on our own. Regardless, none of us are “born” with “ramblin'” characteristics that can’t be change. To believe so is a denial of the power of God to change our lives. God does have power to transform man, and He can make that change real in our personal lives.

 

handcart

The Ghosts Of Pioneer Past

TheDiscipleMD

I once watched a documentary on the Public Broadcasting Service about animals that live in the desert.  The show highlighted the fact that at first glance it appeared that very few animals lived in such harsh conditions.  As the camera panned the landscape there seemed to be no life.  But, upon closer examination the narrator began to educate us, that indeed, many species of animal life not only existed, but thrived.  Throughout the next hour I watched in amazement as he showed us various animals that lived in such extreme heat.  Each animal had adapted to the environment in their own way.  Each had developed the necessary features and attributes to survive.  I marveled at their resiliency and unique manner of living.  They were “desert ghosts” that are not seen to the common eye, but are to those who take time to keenly study the landscape.

Driving through or flying over the western part of the country, you can’t help but marvel at the true “Desert Ghosts,” our ancestors, the pioneers.  Driven from a country of ‘milk and honey’ to the uninhabitable, the early saints are a testimony to what faith can accomplish.  The words of Isaiah ring out:

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.  (Isaiah 35:1)

It is hard to comprehend what present day Utah might have looked like to the pioneers as they entered the valley. What were they thinking as they gazed on their new home? They had endured much, and surely knew that they were just beginning to face challenges that might require their very lives! They began as ‘Desert Ghosts,’ barely visible to all those around them.  Yet, they adapted and developed attributes that would enable them to not only survive, but to thrive.

I once sat in a church meeting where we were discussing the importance of celebrating “Pioneer Day.” One brother, who had no ancestral connection, said, “I don’t see the importance of making such a big deal about the pioneers.  I feel a greater connection to the ancestors of the revolution!” Quickly another brother of African decent, raised his hand and respectfully said:

“Well, I see the importance of it. Although my ancestry is one of slavery and persecution, when I joined this church, its heritage became my heritage.  I think it is important to celebrate our pioneer ancestry!” The room went silent. Here was a man who understood the words of Paul written to the Galatians:

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye all are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28).

This brother understood the meaning of becoming ‘one’ in Jesus Christ.  He was a man who had gained a testimony of the important role of ‘the ghosts of pioneer past’,  who paved the way so that we might gain eternal life.





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