Facing Our ‘Nebuchadnezzar’

TheDiscipleMD

The eight-year old boy stood up and frightfully approached the pulpit. It was the early 1960’s in Junior Sunday School at church. He had memorized his talk and gone over it again and again. But somehow it didn’t give the boy total confidence in telling the story of Daniel as he began his talk. Things were going well till he stumbled on the name of the King. Although he had rehearsed it many times, the name Nebuchadnezzar was just too much for him to pronounce. As he tried in vain to pronounce it his heart sank and embarrassment set in. Just when it seemed that the little boy would fail, from the back came the familiar voice of his mother. “Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar” she repeated. The little boy smiled and repeated the name. Minutes later he finished the talk. He sat down and smiled at his mother who proudly sat in the back of the room.

I believe that Heavenly Father sits like a loving parent at the back of the room of our life letting us do all we can do. Then in that moment of need He reveals himself and helps us along. Like a good parent who desires that his children grow and learn, He watches, waits; then intercedes when He sees that it is needed. Daniel went all the way into the Den before the Lord intervened.

Sometimes our Father just watches and encourages us along the path of life. He wants us to grow! Bad things do happen to faithful people. But regardless, He does love us! This life is just a moment in time. I am confident that He, more often then not, helps us in our times of darkness; just like my mother did for me that scary Sunday morning so many years ago.

A Journal

TheDiscipleMD

Journal Entry:

“…I’ve also had the experience of meeting and counseling with many members. It is amazing the diversity of backgrounds and experience of the brothers and sisters. It is also heart-rending to feel of their pain…I have learned to love all people through this personal experience of sharing. It is easy to judge others on their actions when we have no concept or understanding as to what is behind their behavior or why they act the way they do. Most everyone is carrying scars from relationships gone bad, hurts from life’s experiences, or suffer from feelings of overall worthlessness. Many of these feelings come from what other people have done or said to them throughout their lives. We must try to develop the fortitude to forgive others for their faults and accept them in a true loving manner. This doesn’t mean we reinforce incorrect behavior, but at the least, we need to be sympathetic and understanding of their situations. I try to help all people recognize that they can control their life and if they wish to be happy they need to start with themselves. It is certainly not easy, but no one can change unless they first do some changing from within…I have come to understand why each member acts as they do…it helps me to be forgiving and I try to look at myself and see that I too have problems that need to be worked on.”

Since the day I wrote those words in my journal, my experience has broadened, but my thoughts on the subject are about same. Often we do not know the burden that others carry in their lives. It is easy to draw conclusions about who and what other people are about. Seldom do we see the “total” movie of others lives. Instead we see snippets and draw conclusions. It is so easy to do this because that is all the information we have available. However, once you get the opportunity, as a Bishop often does, to sit down and talk with someone who is willing to open up to you their life, more often than not, you gain a greater appreciation for them and the manner in which they have dealt with adversity. I can honestly say, that after having experienced private time together, I have always felt more love and appreciation for that person and their family. I believe that when we take the time to get to really know others, we find our bond of brotherhood becomes closer, our empathy grows, and our charity is enhanced.

Swiftly ‘Shake It Off’

TheDiscipleMD

I think it was my older brother who I first recall telling me to ‘shake it off.’ Usually he told me this after holding me down and pounding on my arm till it hurt so bad I would start to cry.  I think I was six years old at the time and he was around fourteen.  Since then I have been told to “Shake it off” on so many occasions that it has become somewhat of a personal motto.  So, a number of years ago when I heard Taylor Swift repeating  over the radio, ‘shake it off, shake it off’,  over and over on her then new single; I couldn’t help but recall the memories of my youth and the trauma that was usually associated with this phrase.

Now ‘shaking it off’ is a good phrase to have as a personal motto, because life, with all its complexities, will certainly load us down with burdens that, at times, seem unbearable.  When we reach those times in our life when ‘shaking it off’ doesn’t seem to work, perhaps we should look to He who is always there to unburden us from our cares. That, of course, is the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

I think that many of us realize that many of the burdens that don’t shake off easy, are of the personal nature. Mistakes, sins, and errors in judgments bring upon us unwanted burdens that, when added to those not of our making, can produce feelings of depression, worthlessness, and unworthiness.

First, if we follow the words of an ancient prophet who lamented to the Lord:  “Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin… (2 Nephi 4:31), we can be found shaking off sin and its consequences before it becomes part of our lives.  This we can control through agency. As we all fall short and sin,  we can ‘shake sin off’ and all other worldly burdens by placing them on the shoulders of Him who has already paid the price. We have a prescribed method to ‘shake off’ our sins and worldly cares through faith, and a process called repentance. Thousands have testified of the uplifting nature of faith, and the cleansing power of sincere repentance. The feeling you get when you ‘shake off’ your sins and worldly cares and place them upon the Savior is unimaginable.

While my brothers words from so long ago are now the name of a popular pop song, bringing back memories of many a sore arm; the advice is sound and something we should consider using on a daily basis. The atonement is there to be used if we exercise faith in Jesus Christ. What are we waiting for? Let us ‘shake it off’ and do it… swiftly!

Our Lives From Black & White… To Color… To HD!

TheDiscipleMD

I stepped into the family room of my next door neighbor and waited for him to get ready. As I stood there in the room I glanced towards the TV set to see that a college football game was in progress. But, my eyes became transfixed on the set, as the game seemed to jump out at me. Almost alive! It was the first time I remember seeing a game in color!

That was the experience as I remember it. It was the early 1970’s and I was standing in the home of my boyhood friend and neighbor. Wow, I thought, the grass is so green, the uniforms so colorful and the game so real. It was almost as if I was there at the stadium. Perhaps I had seen a color TV set as I passed by one in the store, but my family never owned one. I loved watching football on my families black and white TV, but this brought the enjoyment to a new level. My new found pleasure quickly came to an end as my buddy was ready and we went out the door. I have since owned a number of color TV’s and the fact that I didn’t own one till after I was married didn’t diminish from the memories I had as a boy watching games on an old black and white. After all, I had no concept of color.

Fast forward to a few years ago: My sons and I stayed up till 2am watching Major League Baseball’s All Star Game. It was the longest All-Star game in history, lasting 15 innings. What made it different from all the other all-star games that I have enjoyed in the past is that it was the first All-Star game I have watched on a (HD) High Definition TV set. The high-definition brought an even greater enjoyment of the game. Every movement, particle of dirt and drop of sweat is now visible. What a treat to the senses! Again, I had enjoyed my old color TV set and have many great memories of watching historic games on it, but this, this HD experience brought TV watching to greater heights!

And while there are many good people in this world who see things only in black and white, and would say their lives are good, they are unaware that their enjoyment of the things of this world could be greatly enhanced by the color of the gospel. Hence the final charge of the Savior as recorded in Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’’ (Matt. 28: 19-20).

And that is why we send forth our missionaries and we are encouraged to “be a light on a hill”: spreading the gospel and bringing “color” into the lives of our brothers and sisters.

There are those of us who live in the “color” of the gospel but who could be living in “HD” if we choose to live the principles taught therein. Adherence to gospel principles has always brought greater joy, happiness and “higher definition” to life.

It may be difficult for some to see the need of “color” in our lives when they so enjoy the black and white view. Yet, I believe, that once someone is exposed to the “color” of the gospel, they will find more enjoyment out of life. May all of us seek to bring “color” into the lives of others by politely exposing them to its luster and may we take advantage of living in “higher definition” by enjoying all the fruits of the restored gospel by living its values and principles.

 

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