Friday, December 30, 2016

Their Hope Shall Be Blasted

Grey skies and low temperatures often bring productivity to a halt and recently the dismal atmosphere led me to break from typical scripture study with my children and place Matthew on the back burner while bringing the teachings of Joseph Smith to the foreground.  I related to them one of my favorite passages from Smith's writing whilst languishing in the unthinkably destitute confines of Liberty Jail. 
 
Smith had found himself imprisoned on false charges and made to endure severe hardship in a tiny cell while many of those who believed on his testimony lay wounded and bleeding in the streets.  He pleaded to God for answers and received the gentle reply that all these things would be but a small moment and give him experience.  The Lord further promised that as to those who would charge him with transgression "their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun."
 
These words rang afresh in my ears, and with them a clear impression dawned to resume writing publicly under the direction of heaven as I have done erstwhile.  My momentary lapse arose in part from certain souls who, priding themselves as upstanding disciples of Christ and honorable men and women, sought to twist my language, hearken to venom tipped rumors and charge me with ill intentions.  Gentle reader, I trust your heart proves more sincere and Godlike than theirs, for in truth, I have prayed fervently about every word I have ever published and those who would condemn such language shall have not me, but the very King of heaven as their judge.  When we are in the service of our Lord, we need not fear what man can do. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Tapestry Called Life

If my experiences in life prove anything akin to yours, I imagine my gentle reader must often ponder as to the meaning of seemingly baffling circumstances that might accompany this, your sojourn on earth.  Various learning moments, countless hours of cross stitch and a great many trials have taught me that often when things make no mortal sense, they are moving perfectly along in a course toward exaltation. 




Consider for a moment a masterpiece half finished.  We do not understand the meaning behind shades of color blending together in confusing patterns, and neither do we fully grasp the significance of the completed project.  But once the Master has placed His last touch upon the canvas we catch our breath and recognize the genius that guided the project from its conception.  






Sometimes we cannot believe in ourselves and incessantly find error and fault in our person.  Sometimes we ask why we cannot do better, why we must submit to limitations or we feel that who we are proves insufficient.  Why doesn't God give us greater personal gifts?  My beautiful friend, perhaps He and all the world are already well aware of the famous and unconquerable beauty we possess.  Perhaps we do not need to be any more than who we are right now and allow the rest of the world to admire God's handiwork in our lives. 



Then there is the argument that others cannot see our divine talents enough.  We know who we are but we suffer at the hands of undeserving and narrow minded individuals.  Perhaps we strive for truth and have found it in great measure but when we attempt to express it to the world, it falls upon deaf ears.  Fear not - it may not be in this lifetime but eventually truth and beauty will prevail and take its rightful place among the greatest masterpieces of mortal existence.  



And then there is the trial that comes in an altogether varied form.  We do not understand why logical answers do not arise when we seem to know what the correct answer ought to prove.  Perhaps, in a manner of speaking, God wants one kind of stitch placed in one area of your tapestry, but another, more beautiful and complex type placed in another.  It may make absolutely no sense to us now but the Master understands all the variety and exquisite beauty our lives can possess and He understands those things humans fail to comprehend.   


Whatever trial graces your life now, please remember that the Master Craftsman has you in hand.  He knows what He will do with your life.  We may not grasp everything right now, but it is well, for we do not have to.  Let us allow the Lord to work on the canvas of our lives, adding a bit here, throwing some color there until He creates a soul far greater than we could have ever planned, one small stitch at a time. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Together Forever...Alone

Stenciled in gold above my bedroom's picture window reads the words "Together Forever."  It is a mantra to those of my faith and an expression of love and hope that families can exist in love and devotion not til death do us part but throughout the expanse of eternity.  It is the pinnacle of religious fervor and the goal of every soul that partakes of the goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As so much of our doctrine surrounds families, it slices like a knife and proves beyond devastating to those who either cannot find a partner or have faced the horror of divorce.  Incidentally, it has been my observation that some of God's noblest children have faced  either or both of these trials, and I extend a message of hope to those who strive toward an eternal marriage but through no fault of their own find themselves continually and, it might often seem, unalterably, alone. 
 
My dear, gentle reader, I know your heart aches desperately, longing for the completion of spirit that seems so simple and even commonplace for others.  I know your longing, your brave smiles, your hidden tears, and your prayers of "how long, oh Lord?"  I know your periods of wanting to give up, followed by the continual nagging of the truths inside you that refuse to let you quit.  Gentle reader, don't you quit!  Never mind about what you see around you at the moment - love and fulfillment is ever and always just around the next corner. 
 
As I view many couples happily married, I reflect upon how lightly they often treat the blessing they have.  They squabble, they mistreat each other, they behave in manners needy, destructive, selfish and weak.  They tend to forget the marvelous blessing they hold daily before their eyes.  Gentle reader, take a lesson from this illustration.  Look at yourself now.  What flaws have you in your moral character?  Mend them now.  What circumstances irk you or lead you to impatience?  Practice patience now.  What tendencies would make it difficult for someone else to live with you?  Change them now.  What qualities could you have that would strengthen a relationship, home and family?  Strive to obtain them now.  We often say, "if only I found the right person, I would change."  My friend, you will have to live with your own soul for the rest of eternity.  Make it a delightful resort of joy. 
 
I know your spirit hurts.  I know that sometimes you pine.  I know you may wonder what is wrong with your life.  But you, I, and each human being breathing on this earth have no time to shed tears of sorrow.  We have a soul to improve, a body to strengthen, a mind to enrich and a world of service to provide to others.  Let us get on our feet and get to work. 

Happily Rejected

Long ago in a high school far away there resided an adolescent Michelle, a lady in red who spent her Saturday nights on the dance floor and early mornings in the music room.  Many gentlemen vied for her favor and one fateful night she spied a young prince crafting rather impressive display in the realm of creative dance. They became acquainted and over a year forged a friendship with perhaps occasional, mild  dating. She often recounted him as the most God fearing, excellent fellow that high school had given her.


Losing track of each other they pursued various paths until college brought them face to face once more.  They met as old friends, but she marked the deep disappointment on his features as she showed him her diamond and related she was no longer on the dating market.


Years separated our heroes again until Christmas Day nigh the close of  one fateful year. Chance and familial relations brought the erstwhile prince once again to our lady's presence.  Not certain he would recognize her, and still adorned in breathtaking red, she approached and uncertainly called his name. His response was one of both boredom and happy obstinence. "Hi Michelle." It proved evident he not only recalled her but also had likely already noted her presence in the room. His expression made it evident, as he snuggled closer to the woman by his side that he was not about to move an inch to accommodate our lady's existence and that he considered himself planted quite firmly by his own princess's side.  Far from feeling insulted, a wide and instantly brilliant smile graced Michelle's features and the two reached out in a polite and mutually acceptable handshake. His next words were not to inquire after her health or family but to immediately introduce his wife, who Michelle instantly complimented and embraced.


Sometimes we find souls in this world who seek the thrill of wrongdoing with past friends. I submit there is a greater happiness in seeing past acquaintances rooted in joy and commitment and to applaud their fierce and passionate loyalty to husbands and wives. I knew there was a good reason I counted him as the most morally excellent fellow of my high school experience and I have never found myself so ecstatic to face complete and thorough rejection in all my life.