Monday, April 14, 2014

Chinese Proverb

My good friend, Marie Hartman, sent me this Chinese proverb.

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.  At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments.  But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.  'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?'

'That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.

'For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.  Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw.  But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.  You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Follow the Prophet

I am thankful for the prophets, seers, and revelators who lead us today. I am grateful for their inspired teaching, counsel, and warnings.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting each of them, and I have had some very personal experiences with a number of them. Every time I have had the opportunity to be with one of them I have come away with the distinct impression that they see, know, and understand more than I see, know, and understand—it’s as though they are seeing around corners. Some may think that they are ordinary men with an extraordinary calling, but I find each of them to be extraordinary in every way. Most importantly they do have a holy calling. The scripture says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).  In a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord also said:

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D and Covenants 1:38, emphasis added)

This is their calling to reveal God’s will to His children and to speak for Him. The Spirit has testified to me that they are the Lord's anointed.  I don't worship them for I reserve that for my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ, but I do respect their calling and sustain them in it.

The Lord told the Nephites gathered at the temple in Bountiful:

 "Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants "(3 Nephi 12:1, emphasis added).

I have found that following the counsel of those with apostolic authority—the prophets, seers, and revelators—blesses my life. With so many voices advocating for this or that cause, I am grateful that I can look to them for direction. By following them, I know I will find safety in troubled and confusing times.

The greatest danger is in not following their direction and counsel. Samuel, the Lamanite, warned the rebellious Nephites of the folly in not following the prophets of their day. He said,

"Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time. And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out. Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil. But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth--and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him. O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light? (Helaman 13:24-29, emphasis added)

Likening this scripture to me, I ask, "How could I cast out the prophets, mock them, cast stones at them, and even slay them?" I could cast them out, mock them, cast stones at them, or symbolically murder them if I choose not to follow them, pridefully disagree with them, or think I know more than they do. I could foolishly choose to follow “blind guides” and those who espouse comfortable or politically correct paths rather than doctrinally sound ways.

The choice for me then is to choose whom I am going to follow. If I choose to follow the prophets, seers, and revelators, I know that I will hear the voice of the Lord and find safety in troubled and confusing times. I know that the Lord will bless my life and that I will be on the path that will lead me safely back into the presence of Heavenly Father.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finding Safety

In troubled and uncertain times, where can we find safety for ourselves and our families? How do we protect ourselves and our families from the storms that can swirl around us.

A pattern is found in the Book of Mormon. When Giddianhi, the leader of the band of Gadianton robbers, threatened the Nephities with destruction, Lachoneus, the Nephite governor, caused,

"That his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them.Yea, he sent a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place.And he caused that fortifications should be built round about them, and the strength thereof should be exceedingly great. And he caused that armies, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites, or of all them who were numbered among the Nephites, should be placed as guards round about to watch them, and to guard them from the robbers day and night." (3 Nephi 3:12-14, emphasis added)

These steps protected the Nephities from a fearsome enemy and provide a pattern for us when faced with the inevitable challenges of life. This tried and tested pattern is to,

  • Pray for the strength to endure.
  • Gather together with the righteous.
  • Fortify ourselves through religious observance such as prayer, scripture study, and covenant keeping.
  • Follow those who have been called by God to lead and guard us.