Murmuring Israel

I am supposed to be finishing up my Corporations reading (but I cannot bring myself to do it on a Sunday).  But I thought to share a few ideas before reading our scriptures and going to bed.

Today was a first for me.  Initially I had been asked to stand in for a priesthood ordination and I was happy to do that.  Well, the other two people who had been asked to stand in forgot.  It felt bad for the man being ordained since this was something that was very important to him.  Last minute, I was offered the privilege of conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained him to the office of an Elder.  It was an honour and a privilege.  It was the first time for me to have ever ordained somebody to any office in any priesthood.  In typing up the priesthood lineage, I almost felt like I had gained a son.  From here on out, at least as an Elder, I will be a part of his lineage and that will bind us throughout eternity.  Somehow I felt like a part of me went out and into him.  I don’t know if he feels or recognizes that, but I sure do.  Anyhow, I am glad the method for the ordination was clear in my head, and there was one right before for a refresher in verbiage and procedure.

Stake Conference last night and today were powerful.  I am impressed by how humble and simple our Stake Presidency is.  I have to admit, President Curtis Crane is a man I want to be like.  I see in him a type of person I want to be like.  I hope there is time.  The meetings included our Temple President speaking last night and our Mission President speaking today.  Of course the Stake Presidency also spoke.  It was good.  Something about hearing a large group of people singing together that always impresses me.  Powerful.

I know I had commented I would give some thoughts about the scriptures as we have been reading along.  Amanda has joined me in the reading and it has been good.  We will be starting in Exodus 32 tonight.  But the last few nights have held a couple of impressions I thought I would share.

The constant view of God to the people continues to amaze me.  The plagues that were taking place in Egypt were surely not unknown to Israel.  Furthermore, the fact that they were spared from the plagues would also be obvious.  While the magicians were able to reproduce some of the early signs (I cannot imagine they were weak reproductions) the power and magnitude became greater and greater.  Each miracle was more recognizable.  Finally, Israel finds themselves crossing through the Red Sea and headed towards a promised land.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.  He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”  Exodus 13:21-22.  I find this thought simply beyond comprehension.  Then I wonder if it is so obvious to the people of Israel what is really going on.

The people didn’t seem to recognize what power was leading them.  “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?  wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us out of Egypt?  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?  For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”  Id. at 14:11-12.

Then in the next breath, “And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.”  Id. at 14:31.

Right afterward, “the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”  Id. at 15:24.  “[T]he whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”  Id. at 16:2.

The Lord responds to their pleas.  “Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”  Id. at 16:4.

“How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?”  Id. at 16:28.

“Why chide ye with me?  wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?”  Id. at 17:2.

“And the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?  Id. at 17:4.

“Is the Lord among us, or not?”  Id. at 17:7.

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine.  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”  Id. at 19:4-6.

“Speak thou (Moses) with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Id. at 20:19.

Anyhow, this is only Exodus, but we see this exchange going back and forth between Israel and the Lord (through Moses).  When will we ever learn to just be obedient and quit expecting the Lord to coddle us?  The next chapter (32) shows where Israel got themselves into quite a bit of trouble for their inability to be constant.  I hope I can be more constant.  I always remember the verse from 1 Nephi 2:12, “And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.”  Hopefully we can all find that relationship with God so that we learn his ways, and his dealings, and we don’t end up like murmuring Israel.

Starting in Earnest

What little tidbits could I update you on this day?  What has been happening in life?

I finished reading the Book of Mormon for the year.  I was a few days ahead of schedule and pretty excited about that.  I have dedicated myself to answering the questions about LDS doctrine from Lee the Lowe’s Delivery Man.  I just haven’t had time to respond, plus I have been doing some research.  If you want to help, I posted the questions on an earlier post a week or so ago.

In church, oddly enough, I saw a lady walking out of the chapel about midway through the Sunday School lesson.  My first thought, “She reminds me of a Wall”.  I quickly dismissed it as I am in Oklahoma City and surely a Wall would not be here.  After Sunday School as we were walking out, I looked at this lady sitting in a pew near the back.  We looked at each other I am sure with the same degree of puzzlement.  She made the comment, “I heard you reading and thought that sounds like Paul Ross.”  I commented about seeing her facial silhouette as she was walking out and thinking she reminded me of a Wall.  Sure enough, it was Luann Wall who I graduated high school with.  Who would ever have thought.  Right before we left to drive out here we were visiting friends.  One of the friends said he was going to see Rick and Kathy Wall and I asked him to tell them hello for me.  Since Luann has a twin sister, I sheepishly asked which one she was.  Erika, her sister, had been in my stake at Utah State.  Since I was in a Stake Calling then, I would see her regularly in the halls of when I attended that ward.  Luann told me who she was and then I went to call her Leann later.  I am such an idiot.  Anyhow, exciting days.  I have a girl from high school, whose ward I attended in Acequia, and who I had a definite interest in for a good while in about junior high.  Her husband is in the Air Force and is based here.  We have agreed to do dinner when her husband is back in town.  Oddly, the thing that bothers me is this; after serving in England and living all over the country, she recognized my voice.  I doubt it was my accent as it is has been mutilated by cultures.  What was it that was so distinctive that Luann Wall thought across the chapel, “That sounds like Paul Ross?”

Law school is providing some interesting a quick insight into myself.  I can be diligent in studying.  I always knew that.  I still have the old struggle of getting the ball rolling.  I am easily distracted.  Once I get down and dirty, I roll in it for hours at a time.  But somehow, maybe it is the age and bad knee, I just struggle getting down into the mire.  Perhaps it is too long away, but I always had this problem before.  Now is the chance to conquer it.  After all, I am making the decision to pass the bar now.  Every decision of every day is determining that passing rate a little more.

This evening we had a foundation man and a plumber here to crawl with me in our dank crawlspace.  One finds a quick brotherhood in dark spider infested places.  We got our lowest bid yet for the work on the foundation.  All cracks fixed with mortar, more joists to support a sagging bathroom and utility room, and some quality piers.  All for roughly $1900.  The plumber told us a rough estimate for the materials alone would be about $1000.  We have to pull most of the plumbing out for the foundation men since the joist in need of reinforcement is in the plumbing heart of the home.  I am pretty excited to get all the work done.  He said we could pay him as we have the money for the labor.  For which I am glad to hear.  We can pay for the materials up front and then probably pay him the rest within a week or two.  We have one more plumber to come and give us a bid.  He was supposed to come tonight but did not show.  Guess he wasn’t all that interested in the job.

In other conversation with the foundation and plumber men.  Mr. Foundation emphasized getting gutters on the house and getting water away from the home.  That is certainly on the plans.  He emphasized sooner than later.  He will just have to wait until we can afford it.  I have no idea how much new gutters and drip caps will be (which I found climbing on the house to actually be missing in some places!).  What is worse, I have a few eaves that the wood is rotten and it will need to be replaced to even put on a gutter!  Ugh.  One thing after another.  The plumber was kind enough to point out that it was as hot and steamy as a sauna under the house.  That happens to be from the fact Amanda was doing laundry and our dryer vent goes below the house.  Not out, under.  He attributed the dryer vent to the destroyed floor joist right next to the vent.  Since I told him I wanted a spigot the back of the house, when he makes the hole in the foundation to just put in the vent and duct as well.  Two stones killed with one bird there!  The plumber said he could solve my freezing pipe problem as well.  Oh, he even will install the new bathroom tub, to boot!  We will have a new house here.  Now we just have to get an electrician in here to take a look at things too.  I have found more wires laying on the ground under the house, none of which I dare play with too much.  Some of them have connections held together by electrical tape.  We will be poor when we are done, but hey our house will supposedly be worth more!

Favorite Script

It is a common thing.  We are supposed to have our favorites.  I am not sure why.  With such a large body of material, why do we have to pick out a few favorites, or even a ‘most favorite’?  In some senses, it doesn’t seem quite right.  Do we have a favorite child?  Do we have a favorite cousin?  Do we have a favorite anything?  I guess the question is more, ‘should we’?

Perhaps it is the world or a weakness tendency in the human race.  Another one of those great weaknesses like pride.  Really, I guess it just is a manifestation of pride.  Usually favorites seem to indicate those things that are most kin to us.  They are those things which somehow seem to reflect or speak of us.

When in the whole, aren’t we supposed to take the whole?  Take into consideration all?  Preferences seem okay, but they are the easy route.  Is this another reason we don’t like missionary work?  We are forced to work with those people who are not our favorites?  Or we are afraid we won’t be a favorite anymore?  Who knows.

Through the years, I have had one scripture which seems to reflect my feelings and passion of life.

One night as I spent the evening in the home of Terry McCombs, he gave me a scripture to think about before I retired for the evening.

“Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessings which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.”  (D&C 67:3)

As I laid there in the old comfortable bed, I read this scripture.  There happened to be a set of scriptures on the bedside and I did not have my own.  I could read it and think about it.  It really hit me pretty hard.  A whole host of blessings which I wanted to receive, but due to fears I was not receiving.  Terry had given this scripture to me for a particular reason and fear with which I was faced.  I just could not seem to let go of it.

Somehow I felt there must be an answer to this scripture.  I did not know how to overcome fear.  I did not know how to receive.  I did not know a whole lot of things.  I still don’t.

Then somewhere around 2 or 3 AM I stumbled upon this scripture.  Somehow in nearly all instances, it still speaks to me.  When asked my favorite scripture, I almost just as quickly give the reference.  In the mission field, the scripture took a whole new meaning.  It applied to others and the work with which I was employed.  Just a couple of weeks ago Brad Hales asked me my favorite scripture.  I gave it to him just as quickly.  While I am sure he must have heard it dozens of times, it meant nothing to him, no recollection whatsoever.  Yet it has somehow always been a bedrock for me.  It is somewhat out of context, but still very applicable.

“Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.  But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.  Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.”  (Alma 26:6-8)

In the mission it was not to get baptisms or converts, but to put them in connection with and into the hands of the Lord of the harvest.  All people.  Member or not.  To help them make that connection.

In my personal life, despite all the storms and whirlwinds that may come, God will uphold and protect those who are faithful.  I thought of this scripture numerous times with the episode with Mom.  I thought of it with adversaries in all things.  Those who are truly converted will not be beaten or harrowed.  They are gathered to their place and singing to God.  Reminds me of “Guide us, O Thou Great Jehovah.”

“When the earth begins to tremble, bid our fearful hearts be still.  When thy judgments spread destruction, keep us safe on Zion’s hill.  Singing praises, singing praises, songs of glory unto thee, unto thee.  Songs of glory unto thee.”

May we all be more like this.  Less worrying, less fearful, more buoyant and pressing forward despite all odds.

Death and the bells tolling

Today I finished about half of Ernest Hemingway’s famous “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and have found it fascinating so far.  Interestingly, as he has gone through different aspects of the community uprising against the fascists, I wondered about my own capacities to deal with such things.  What if I was on the side of those being abused and slaughtered for my beliefs?  Would I die with ‘dignity’ as some of the captured fascists do not do?  Would I be prepared to be caught up in death just as the priest is?  Would the planes, the sounds of planes, ring to me as instruments of death or the roaring of death?  I really don’t know.

Looking into my life, I do not feel like one who is afraid of much.  I feel a tinge of fear with heights, especially as the chance of being exposed to fall increases.  However, I have always thought myself as one who when the fall was actually in process, would enjoy the fall.  That would be of course if it was long enough for me to realize I was falling and had the chance to enjoy it.  Then again, I will probably never have the chance.

War is such an interesting crucible of the soul.  I honestly don’t believe I would have the capacity to force my view, opinions, or ideology on anybody else.  I could see myself defending myself, even in guerrilla warfare or some type of underground.  Then again, I always wondered about even my feelings then.  How much were the German Saints to uphold and sustain their government?  I remember several people showing me an article about an LDS individual who helped develop torture techniques for the German government.  It was his job.  Where is the separation?  Where do we draw the line to where we begin civil disobedience?

We don’t seem to quibble much over speeding when it really can be deadly, and yet we insist we are to support a President whose war we may not support.  Do I go to jail or do as my draft card tells me to do in Vietnam?  Do we do as Schindler’s Jews and deliberately undermine quality control or give our all to our employer?  Even if what they do is not correct?  Do we just go along with the status quo or think twice about it?  Do I build or buy a large home when entire countries are basically homeless by our standards?  Do I buy that jet ski when the money could fund the entire education for another individual?

I really don’t see myself getting caught up in a mob but would I put my life on the line to oppose a mob?  Would I stand idly by while a mob worked their vicious course?  Do I defend my life, liberty, and family or do I fall to my knees before the enemy like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies?  Do I lay down my weapon rather than shed the blood of a brother?  Do I do, as America seems to do, and draw a line in the sand daring anyone to step over it, willing to fight to the death?  Or do I take a magnanimous approach to all I associate with, whether I agree with them or not?

There are so many questions of scenarios with which I hope I am never faced.  However, I want to make sure my mind is settled if the situation should ever arise.  What if I was called to go behind the enemy lines and blow up a bridge?  Would I be willing to kill myself rather than be captured?  Would I be willing to blow up a bridge when I know I will die in the process?  Robert Jordan is so completely against suicide and yet he may have to do the very thing.  (Ironic Hemingway works through this scenario and then does the deed himself years later.)

To take it a step further, while we may not personally be engaged in a civil war, are we still taking part of a war unknowingly.  President Hinckley mentioned a number of times how the War in Heaven has continued to this day.  This war is ongoing and are we having to face spiritually many of the same questions I have been posing?

“Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power.  I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.  Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart,…” (Alma 10:5-6).

Do I find myself like Amulek?  Doing things which I know I should not, claiming ignorance?  When I should be doing something differently.  Do I stand by while my place of business is actually robbing from the widow?  I know it is wrong, but do I do nothing about it because ‘I would not know’.  Do I not say something while my neighbor does something that is actually ‘oppressing the hireling’?  Do I stand by while the mob, which could resemble the economy, ‘grinds the face of the poor’?  These are questions we all have to ask ourselves.  I seem so worried about if I can afford another car while people are worried about their next meal.  Can I be so hard in my heart?

Should I be blowing up these enemy bridges so the imps of evil cannot reach the battlefront where my children may have to fight?  Do I let them march right into my home through the television?  Do I let the propaganda distill upon the minds of others through the melodies and sounds of music?  Not only as an individual, but as families and communities?

I really don’t know the answers to these questions.  But Amulek gives us the answer of where to start to make sure we are right.

“Yea, and I will say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction, yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword.  But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared;…” (Alma 10:22-23).

Prayer is a great place to start.

As to the death aspect, would we be willing to lay down our lives?  Latter-day Saints seem to have such an interesting set of perspectives.  We for the most people are a very peace loving people.  We should be the first to always seek peace first, which I believe generally we are.  Mobs and uprisings are unheard of among the LDS.  But, when it comes time, our view of death also changes our determination.  When we feel called upon to fight, to lay down our lives if necessary, we do so (or should) gladly.  After all, we should have no fear of death.

“Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.  The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.  Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not be so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought to be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.”  (Alma 11:42-44)

I guess the real question through all of this that weighs on me is this.  Do we go on like we are and wait for it all to work out in the resurrection?  Or, do we rise up and do something about our current state?  Do we fight for it?  Where the answer lies, I really do not know.  All I know, John Donne had it correct, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.  If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

A report of a few thoughts

I am not really sure what to write.  My life feels like there is so much going on at the moment I would not know where to start.  I feel like singing a little Johnny Cash and “I’ve been everywhere.”
So more a couple of thoughts on a variety of issues.
I am learning more and more there is only so much some people can be helped.  I have a friend, Kevin, who says he cannot find a job.  I have now given him over 4 different job opportunities and he isn’t willing to do much.  Granted, it might not be the perfect fit, but why not jump in until you find something better.  I guess there is always the benefit of sitting and home and hanging out with the family.  The money doesn’t run forever (at least, for most of us).  I thought he was interested enough in a job that I set up an interview with the two individuals doing the hiring.  He went and brought his wife along for the interview.  Why not bring your mother too?  How far should one go in trying to reach out and provide opportunities to another?
There is another friend, Dustin, who has been tending a car for me for several years now.  He offered and I was happy to have his help while I was away to Virginia, Missouri, and all my other travels.  I went over to take a look today and it broke my heart how terrible of condition it is in.  I know it is free, I appreciate the watchful eye, but I think I may have done better leaving it sitting in my own backward.  Then it would have been more friendly dirt, less rusty water, and mice who belong to the family.  I don’t know if the neglect is what really bothers me but rather the questions I posed of whether or not everything was okay.  Did I need to pay him for some upkeep, did I need to help with expenses.  The answer was always the same, “Nope, everything is taken care of.”
I was visiting with my boss, Doug Kelley, the past few days about the Catholic Religion.  Particularly with the Pope’s visit to the United States and his news noted attempt to try and bring the US Catholic portion in line.  My boss, a self proclaimed “Roman Catholic with a little R” said the real issues he has with Pope Benedict is his apparent desire to undo Vatican II.  Primarily the fact that with Vatican II the church was less authoritarian and the congregations could really take on responsibility and serve on another.  It is always the Father out doing all the good while everyone sat around.  Now the Pope is diverting the church back to the authoritarian mode and he is very frustrated.  My first thought is he should definitely take a look at the LDS.  If he wants a congregation that serves on another, I don’t know of a better church.  We talked some about Mormonism and I even gave him a Book of Mormon.  He was thrilled and said he would read it soon.  I very much hope he does.  The sooner the better.  I won’t be around him for years to finally discuss and talk about it when he does read it.
I have been accepted to Oklahoma City University Law School.  I really like this option.  It takes me back to the center of the country, I get to live in another area I never lived, and in some cases another culture.  We are still waiting to hear from some other law schools for which I may be interested.  There certainly is no rhyme or reason to why schools accept or reject applicants.  I have acceptance to schools better than others that rejected me according to some ranking systems.  We shall wait and see.
In sitting down one morning to breakfast with Marie Lundgreen, she asked me what I thought about the relationship with her and the sister.  This Sister seems to have a relationship which may be similar in many ways with my own full sister.  The giving of great opportunities are not only rejected, they are turned back on you in a negative way as trying to interfere in their life.  Where credit or help is given, not only are they taken, but no recognition or appreciation is given.  In one case with my own sister, my willing to help her out cost me a vehicle and several thousands of dollars.  What is one to do?  Marie and her sister, over a period more than double my sister and me, has been more extreme.  In some instances the help offered cost thousands of dollars, and then it was all rejected part and parcel.  Even after acceptance was agreed upon and all the effort expended, then the gift rejected.  What is one to do?  How much should we extend ourselves to help those, especially family, where it seems to do more harm than good?  Nobody likes to be taken advantage of in any way.  I do think I am magnanimous, but is there a point where you should take your efforts elsewhere?  What happens when you know later the sister is being kind and nice just to get something more?  Forgive but not give the gift?  Is that possible?
Dad and Jan have been called to serve for two years in the Twin Falls Temple when it opens.  This is an exciting opportunity.  It will be a calling close to home, the privilege of officiating in the House of God, and the spiritual blessings that only come from the Temple.  I hope and pray the couple days a week they serve will not cost him his job.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.  We are all in the hands of the Lord of the Harvest.  Dad and Jan have been called and they will give their all to serving.  As anyone does so, everything always works out.  We don’t know how, it just does.  The same has been very evident in my life.
I had dinner with Kevin and Jean Gore from Walkden, Lancashire, England.  What a joy it was to meet up with friends from within the England Manchester Mission.  Just like the sons of Alma after meeting up after all those years, nothing has really changed in the relationship.  Why, because we all live the gospel.  As we keep our hearts in tune with the Savior, we cannot help but find ourselves in tune with others who are seeking to do the same.  We enjoyed a great meal and discussed a wide variety of topics.  I thank God for how kind and generous he has been in my life.  There are so many great and noble people I have the privilege of association.
Work continues very well.  There are some things in the pipeline which will do great things in expanding the production of Magnesium Hydroxide at the Paul Plant.  It is just a matter of getting everything lined out and ready to go.  There are a host of equipment opportunities and I am sure there are many more.  We have met with a couple of engineering firms lately all of who are interested in our equipment and services.  There are some tremendous opportunities.  I hope we can get them on line before I possibly leave for law school.
I know this post has been a bit more negative.  I just needed to vent I think and relieve the concerns I have.  The future is so unknown, you try to help others out and they don’t want the help (such a fine line between meddling and genuine service), and the desire to anxiously engaged.  What comes next?

Lighter Burdens

This weekend as my cousin, May, and I drove back from General Conference there were quite a few things I was thinking as we talked about a whole host of subjects.  One of them did have to do particularly with one of our latest readings going through the BOM.  I openly admit I am a couple of chapters behind where I should be, but nothing not easily caught up.

I have always thought about the people of Alma and their being persecuted by Amulon.  It was so bad at one point that individuals were put to death if they were caught praying.  Our society is no where near this bad, but I suppose it could get that way if we are not diligent.  At any rate, it would probably be just as successful as the Amulonites were with regard to Alma’s people.  They still cried out in their hearts and sent their silent prayers to heaven.  They were still heard, much to the dismay of Amulon.

Anyhow, their prayers brought some pretty good benefits.  “And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.”

Those are all great words, and very hopeful, but it is the next two verses that really seem to ring true.  “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.  And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”  (Mosiah 24:13-15)

To those who are feeling burdened, lay more faith on the line and send more prayers to heaven.  Relay that message and call down the blessings of heaven into your life.  Of course, it would have to be done with real sincerity, purpose, and intent.  Otherwise it is just the spoiled child asking another gift.  As I have written previously, it isn’t always the cure is to be had, or the struggle removed, but an effectual struggle is to be made.  This seems to go along with that entry and that line of thought just the same.  The burden may remain, but the gift is given to continue with it, but that its effects may be removed from you.

Indeed, it goes with Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Somehow it doesn’t always seem the burden is removed, but our focus changes in such a way we forget it, or it really is not felt anymore in our life.  How much does this relate to a bad marriage?  How much does this relate to an illness?  How much does this relate to an nagging temptation?  I don’t really know.

One thing I do know is this, the Prophets of God are upon the earth.  The messages are always timely and important.  Attending conference with a virtual non-member changed most aspects of my viewing pleasure.  It opened whole new doors and changed much of the focus.  I recognized how very alive the Spirit is in some people’s lives and they don’t even recognize it, especially my own.  Next, I learned how terrible some people feel and are doing in life despite the fact they look happy.  Last, I certainly do not understand all the ways of God.  The things or comments doing most of the teaching would certainly never have been my guess.

I know when I put my trust in God, my life is happier, my burdens lighter, and my eternity aglow.

Effectual Struggle

There was a time in the mission when I was really struggling with some things.  It was not one thing in particular, but with a whole host of different little things combined.  Add to that all the concerns and prayers for investigators and it can become a bit much at times.  It was during one of these times I had a pretty significant experience.
We had been out tracting all morning.  It was sometime probably about March of 1999.  I am too lazy to go find the date in my journal.  But it had been drizzling on and off all morning.  We actually came back with a pretty good list of call backs but I still had a number of things weighing on my mind.  There was one in particular with relation to my companion.  I want to make it known we did not have any big issues, but some things he did brought out inadequacies in myself, I believe in no fault of his own.  I was struggling how to overcome some of these feelings and disappointments.
The morning had been spent on exchanges with a Canadian, Elder Morton.  We returned for lunch and I was so exhausted and stressed under the weeks of dealing with things I went upstairs and plopped on my bed to take a quick kip.  However, as I laid there, I just keep rehashing things.  It was then I just stopped, opened my eyes, and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
There I laid pondering that phrase when I very distinctly heard a scripture pop into my mind.  It was not an audible voice but I reopened my eyes to make sure nobody was there.  I laid there alone on the bottom bunk wondering what in the world the scripture said.
The scripture was Mosiah 7:18.
My first reaction was, “What in the world is in chapter 7 of Mosiah?”  I had no clue what was even going on in the chapter, which piqued my interest all the more.
I rolled out of my bed and located some scriptures to look up the verse.
“And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”
It was absolutely powerful.  Somehow, the words seem to answer exactly what it was I was asking.  They hit me as they say, like a ton of bricks.  Every single time I read this chapter I think of this experience.  Every time when it seems difficulties just won’t go away, I seem to remember this scripture.  This is my comfort scripture you can say.  Regardless of what burdens we are under, lift up your head and be comforted.  The time is not far ahead when these things will no longer be.  Whether in death, release, or in the deliverance from the scenario, an end will come.  Then a warning, a suggestion, a plea for endurance because still an effectual struggle is to be made.
It is not enough just to wait it out.  A struggle must still be made.  We must continue working through things, not just give up.  The verses go on…
“Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God.  In that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.  And again, that same God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage.”  (Mosiah 7:19-20)
The Lord has done so much good in our lives, don’t lose sight at the moment.  God’s promises always come true.  They will always ring in a new day, eventually.
Looking back, I can see how much this has come to pass.  As I have made the eventual struggle ever since, I find my blessings are becoming greater and greater.  I feel more and more in tune.  I see miracles all about me in my life.  Who really could ask for anything more?  I haven’t really been through a whole lot in my life either.  Some would disagree with me, but I keep pressing forward and making the effectual struggle.  Somehow everything works out right.  I have been fortunate it has all worked out for me in this life.  I fear there are many who it does not work out for in this life.
Some of my blessings are being realized in the past week.
This past weekend, the effectual struggle of helping out friends, listening to friends, continuing to foster friendships in the difficulty of school and university, and especially with friends after marriage opened doors for me.  I was invited to Vernal to spend time with three other friends who all lived on Darwin Avenue in Logan.  Anna, Allen, and Brad.  Anna, for all intents and purposes, is an old girlfriend.  I certainly don’t see it that way with a negative connotation.  However, both of us struggling through despite some awkward times, proved to be a foundation and grounding point where we can move on and have become great friends.  Allen, another individual I got to know fairly well, but never as well as I would have liked, through the struggle of maintaining contact, proved to be a great deal of fun, mutual respect, and some business dealing.  Brad, the struggle to maintain contact has turned into a bond and friendship I have never heard of between any other two missionary companions.  That relationship has affected so much of our daily lives I am not sure I could even begin to define its influence.
We meet up for a weekend together in Vernal.  It was a blast.  We hiked canyons and climbed cliffs.  We sought out petroglyphys and outlaws.  We toured Ashley Valley’s water treatment facility.  We enjoyed meals, told jokes, and explored museums.  What a blast.  All from the effectual struggle of not feeling adequate or capable of reaching out to effectively connect with others.
That commitment has gone even further.  I have maintained relationships with parents of many friends I went to high school.  Sometimes, I am not even in contact with the friend anymore, but am still with the parents.  One such relationship was with a girl named Nicole.  Again, a girlfriend by world standards, but we really just enjoyed ourselves.  That ongoing friendship not only with Nicole, but with her parents may turn out to bring other opportunities (perhaps business too) now.  Who would have ever thought that the parents who called every 10 minutes while we clasped to brick ledges holding on to our lives (all in complete safety) would become fast friends?  Who would have thought the parents of a girl whose piano bench I would break early one morning by sharing it with my date would spend hours with me showing my photos of their safari to Africa and motorcycle trip through New Zealand?
These are just a couple of examples on my effectual struggle to be better at reaching out, maintaining relationships, and remembering others would have blessed me in so many ways.  What is especially true is I am seeing some of these blessings while yet in mortality.  That too, is probably another blessing of making the effectual struggle.