Tapping into the unseen powers
The dangers in this world are real and it is easy to feel frightened.
The young servant of the Prophet Elijah was understandably panicked to wake up and see a bloodthirsty army surrounding him. But the prophet was unruffled. “And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-17)
I think we are often like the young friend of Elisha. He was not imagining the problems and dangers surrounding them. And we may not be imagining the problems and dangers we face. But like the young man we may forget to consider what unseen powers may be near to help us. .
David was much smaller than Goliath, and we all know how that turned out. But have we thought enough about why? Goliath was fighting with his own brute strength.
David’s war cry was, “The battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” (1st Samuel 17:47)
During the dark days of the Civil war when the Northern armies couldn’t seem to ever win a battle, one of Abraham Lincoln’s aids asked him, “Mr. President is the Lord on our side?”
Lincoln replied, “I am not so concerned if the Lord is on our side as I am that we are on the Lord’s side.”
Good council. Facing life’s challenges We may not have visible armies of angels at our command, but when our cause is just, our motives pure and our desires are only to do good our strength is multiplied many times. If we are on the Lord’s side, we may not win every skirmish but ultimately we will emerge victorious.
Consider this sad story about so-called riches.
It’s about a man who lived among a primitive people. His house servants watched him get things just by writing notes from his checkbook and giving them to people. At length greed got the best of the servants. They killed the man and stole his magic check book so they could get all the wonderful things it could buy.
What a tragedy. A life traded for things of the world. But we see that all the time. Even more tragic, sometimes it’s our own life. We ignore or are ignorant of the principles of celestial economics. We spend time and money on corruptible commodities of earth and ignore the opportunities to invest in eternity. Who of us would not give an honest tenth of his possessions and a generous donation of his time and money if he could be sure he would get in return a reward so great he couldn’t carry it home?
That is precisely what the Lord promises. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10, 3 Nephi 24:10)
On the other hand, suppose our wildest dreams of acquisition and possession came true, and we owned the whole world? “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Jesus asked. (Mark 8:36)
It should be obvious that the smart money and the smart time would go for the larger and enduring return. But too often. We go for the quick reward, conspicuous consumption, something for nothing. These schemes are as popular as they ever were in this world. Ultimately they are as unprofitable as stealing a checkbook.
Little Epistle, Ecology of Eternity
There is something terribly wrong with the way we are treating the good earth. From the often leaden and laden skies to the slash and burn farming of irreplaceable hardwood forests, the suffocating oil spills, the mountains of garbage, the toxic wastes this is indeed as the Book of Mormon predicted, “…a day of pollutions.”(Mormon 8:31) And it isn’t just waste. Even when we use earth’s resources efficiently we too often use them for destruction not construction.
The problems will not be solved by Greenpeace and animal rights activists. Their premise of this planet is wrong. They see it as a spinning space station accidentally evolved and eventually destined to grow cold and die.
In reality the earth is an eternal living creation of God. It cries out in agony over the misuse and abuse perpetrated upon it. (Moses 7:48) It will one day be redeemed, purified and celestialized forever. Eventually he only will be worthy to inhabit it who “hath clean hands and a pure heart who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully.” (Psalms 24:1-4)
Clean hands will not be stained with the blood and bodies of needlessly slaughtered living things. Pure hearts will not use earth’s resources for evil ends. Those not lifted up in vanity will not gorge themselves with conspicuous consumption while their fellow humans starve and the earth strains to support them in their extravagant tastes. Those with the integrity to avoid deceitful swearing can be trusted to care for the earth according to the Lord’s commandments. Only these principles of eternal ecology will ultimately save the earth and its inhabitants. The best thing we can do for this planet is preach and practice the gospel.
Epistle: Memorial Day Thoughts 5.10.17
The Mormon pioneers were driven out of Nauvoo Illinois in 1846 by armed mobs. That exodus began a 23 year gathering by ox drawn wagons, and handcarts. More than 6,000 died and were buried along the way. Yet they came singing. A verse of their favorite song says, “And should we die before our journey’s through, happy day all is well. We then are free from toil and sorrow too. With the just we shall dwell.
“But if our lives are spared again to see the saints their rest obtain, oh how we’ll make this chorus swell. All is well. All is well.”
That is still our declaration.
A number of years ago, my father lay in the home in which he had spent most of his adult life. His wife of 64 years sat quietly near the bed set up for him in the family room where he could catch a little more sunlight. His sons gave him a blessing, and later that night, he struggled into his next life. He did not just slip away. It was hard for him to get the job of dying done. His body still had strength from the years he had labored to support his family and to live his faith. But at length his time came and he passed away.
That night a feeling of accomplishment filled the room and the house. We would miss his counsel, his friendship, and his sense of humor. But he had done what he came to do in this life, and he felt it was time for him to move on.
For those who have lived long and well death is sweet. We as a society often seem unable to accept that fact. Too many times loved ones and health professionals expend heroic efforts and vast sums of money to extend a life even when he or she would prefer to move on. Sometimes the life they extend is a poor excuse of an existence, filled with pain and limited capabilities.
There is even some speculation about eventually extending life indefinitely. This is foolishness. It comes of a wrong paradigm we have on the here and the hereafter. Locked into scientific humanism as our unofficial national philosophy, we are unable or unwilling to look past the veil of death to what might lie beyond. Because of this we have turned death into a horrible non-existence to be postponed and fought off at any price. It becomes a contest in which to live is to win; to die is to lose. This is the wrong metaphor. Death is not defeat. It is a transformation into eternal life.
This view of life and death hurts even more when we see a child struck down by disease; a young soldier killed in battle; a mother taken before she can rear her children, a promising life snuffed out by bad habits and dissipation. These are, of course, sad and even sometimes tragic events. But they are made infinitely more heart rending when we view death as a horrible empty long dark and lonely chasm instead of the door to a better world, which is what it really is.
Death will come to us all soon or late. But it will affect us long before it takes us. How we view life dictates in large measure how we view death. Likewise how we view death influences how we live life. Will we spend our years anxiously avoiding the shadow of the grim reaper, or will we invest our time and energies preparing to enter a more glorious existence when our time comes? Then we will be comforted to know that death here is birth into the hereafter.
Hands that See
HANDS THAT SEE
In that classic movie in 1939, The Wizard of Oz. The plot revolves around things the characters want. The scarecrow wants a brain. The lion wants courage. The tin man wants a heart. Dorothy wants to fly over the rainbow.
I suppose the movie is unforgettable because most of us at some times want something more than we have. When I get that want mood, try to remember true stories like this one.
A number of years ago back in Missouri a night patrolling policeman stopped to check out a suspicious looking scene. A car was parked on the dark street and a man was working underneath it. The cop naturally suspected somebody was pilfering parts. He called the man out from under the car and got one of the bigger surprises of his career I think. The midnight mechanic was a multi-talented young medical student. He was fixing his car because like most students he was on a tight budget and didn’t want to pay a garage. Also he was very handy with his hands, had been since the days he grew up on the farm in southern Utah. Mechanical work was a refreshing break for him from the mental grind of medical studies.
But why in the dark? The young medical student explained to the policeman, “Because I’m not handicapped like you and most other people. You have to have light to see things.” I can see with my hands.
The policeman saw the light, so to speak. Got in his car and went to his patrolling shaking his head in amusement.
The medical student/mechanic went back to his fixing his car in the dark. He had learned to see with his hands and fingers since he lost his sight in a childhood accident.
The policeman is one of a long line of people who were amazed at what this man could see and do with his hands.
He was a high school wrestler, played a little guitar and musical saw for recreation, raised a fine family and contributed to his church and community. His BYU graduating class of 1936 honored him as its most successful student. He was featured in a verse of a song by Janice Kapp Perry titled “The Test.” He has blessed the lives of thousands through his long career.
But this remarkable man saw with more than his hands. He saw with his mind, and heart. With these he gained his insights into life and how to live it to the fullest despite, or perhaps because of challenges. We are privileged to have known this good man could see without sight, Dr. Iliff Jeffery.