Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pride and Poetry!

The world we live in today tells us we have to be big and bad and better than the next person.  Society seems to judge success on how far ahead you are of the next guy, regardless of how far you've actually come.  This attitude creates enmity and hate between those who should love and help each other.   I have found that one key to maintaining humility is to remember all that has been done for us by our Father in Heaven.

I like the power that poetry puts behind words.  William Ernest Henley wrote this famous poem.  It is a great poem but for the sake of this post, read the "Invictus" first and then read the response in the second poem.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade.
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

I love the perspective brought to the table through the words penned by Orson F. Whitney in response to this poem.  He writes;


Art thou of truth?  Then what of Him
Who bought thee with his blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood?

Who bore for all our fallen race,
What none but Him could bear,
The God who died that man might live,
And endless glory share?

Of what avail thy vaunted strength,
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that his light may pierce the loom,
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree.
Thou, captain of they soul, indeed!
Who gave that place to thee?

FREE will is thine-free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that head "unbowed"
Small part of life's great whole!
And see in Him, and Him alone
The captain of thy soul.

The words of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon also says it well.

"19And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to athank your heavenly bKing!
 20I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the athanks and bpraise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and cpreserved you, and has caused that ye should drejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
 21I say unto you that if ye should aserve him who has created you from the beginning, and is bpreserving you from day to day, by lending you cbreath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own dwill, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your ewhole souls yet ye would be funprofitable servants.
 22And behold, all that he arequires of you is to bkeep his commandments; and he has cpromised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth dvary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do ekeep his fcommandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
 23And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
 24And secondly, he doth arequire that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bbless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
 25And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were acreated of the bdust of the earth; but behold, it cbelongeth to him who created you."

May we remember our God who gave us life, live in humility and give thanks specifically and daily for our many blessings.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teach them to Wake Board!

I'm no professional when it comes to wake boarding.  However, I have loved the years I've had at the lake behind a boat.  After a few years of going out with my dad, he finally let me start taking the boat out with just me and some friends.  I became the driver and on several occasions had to teach several of my friends how to wake board.  It was easy to get frustrated as they would have all the right equipment and I could explain over and over how to do it, but it is just one of those things that takes experience and trial.  They could understand the basics by me telling them but they would never get it down themselves until they got in the water and tried it. 
I sometimes feel that same frustration as I try to teach individuals about the restored gospel.  As missionaries we can explain and teach, but until they 'do' they cannot know.  Jesus Christ said "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine..."(John 7:17)  Just like a person who won't get in the water and try wake boarding will never be able to without that first step, so it is with gaining a testimony.  Until a person commits to take a step of faith and move forward, or to act,  they will be stagnate and wonder why they aren't getting an answer.
Especially at this Easter season as we reflect more deeply on the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, I'm grateful that we have a light to follow.  "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."(John 8:12)  To follow takes action.  Just like my friend had to act on their desire to learn to wake board, we also have to act on the desire to grow closer to our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.  It is my prayer that we may each choose to follow the Savior in action and gain a knowledge thereby.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Struggle for Growth

Recently I have found myself in situations that have been a struggle for me to deal with.  I was uncomfortable with the drastic changes that came and not sure how to handle them.  Though these trials and struggles were very minor compared to most, I began to reflect on the purpose of this life and why it is that we experience trials and hard things.  While in our deepest trials we often fail to find anyone who can empathize with us.  However, those that love us will do their best to sympathize.  The one who can empathize perfectly saying, "I know what you are going through," is Jesus Christ.

A poem given by Elder M. Russel Ballard says it best;

The Mighty Oak 

A mighty Wind Blew night and day
It stole the Oak Tree's leaves away-
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the Oak was tired and stark-
But still the Oak Tree stood its ground
While other trees fell all around.

The weary Wind gave up and spoke
Why are you still standing Oak?
The Oak Tree said;
I know that you-
Can break every branch of mine in two-
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway-
But I have roots
Stretched in the earth-
Growing stronger since my birth.
You'll never touch them-
For, you see, they are the deepest part me

Until today, I wasn't sure, of just how much I could endure-
But now I've found, with thanks to you-
I'm stronger than I ever knew.

I know if we will approach the adversity in our lives with the proper attitude and prayer, we will be able to see the hand of the Lord in our lives, strengthening us and helping us to learn and grow.  I'm grateful for the perspective found in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ...without it there is nothing worth having.