The Poetic Corner: The Man on the Bench

The Man on the Bench

 

i sat down on a bench the other day
too tired to stand anymore
life it seemed had lost the dream
and i was losing my count of the score

then a man walking by sat next to me
and said “you look like a sight for sore eyes.”
i said “i’m sure I do and to tell the truth
i’m a bigger mess inside.”

he shook his head and smiled and told me “life is no big deal.
it’s the little things that count and build the love and hope we feel.”
i said “i haven’t any hope left and my love is thin as air.
so save your breath and take the rest of this to someone who cares.”

he just stared and said

“oh, faithless child, how often would i have helped you,
but you were busy with anything apart from the truth.
so many witnesses have shown you why you came to this Earth.
just take a notice and you’ll see what your life’s really worth.
it has worth.”

i blinked and took a breath hoping to block out what he said
but the words he spoke kept ringing notes familiar in my head
i said “i don’t know who you are but what makes you think you can change
the story of my life with just a simple word or phrase?”

he looked amazed and said

“oh, faithless child, how often would i have helped you.
i’ve been calling but the times that you’ve listened were few.
all the moments you had thought you were left to yourself,
i was holding you but you were too numb to have felt.”

my heart swelled as i closed my eyes to try and stop the tears
before me fell my life and all the wasted years
regret stung my heart
as i turned to face this Man
only to find he wasn’t near

with a bit of swallowed pride i stood up straight and realized
a newfound strength had just replaced the emptiness inside
silently i thanked the Man for giving me that day
to live my life
to be alive
to give up sight and walk by faith
to walk by faith

 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37)

From this verse, we can make a simple analogy. How often do we ignore the voice of the Good Shepherd? How often do we not hearken to the counsel of His prophets and His word in the Bible and the Book of Mormon? When life finds us in a bind, and we feel like we are far from the Savior, who do you think has moved? Certainly not Christ. His arms are always outstretched, ready to receive all who will come unto Him. As He says here, He is always willing to gather us as a hen gathers its chickens.

He is constantly supporting us from one moment to the next. In the Book of Mormon, a wise ruler named King Benjamin stated,

I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. (Mosiah 2:21)

We live and do according to our will because Christ is our support. Even when we feel abandoned by everyone and everything, His light and life is still within us, keeping us alive and giving us breath. He is never gone, but sometimes we have been removed too far or become too numb to see the brightness and feel the warmth of His light.

Let’s shake off the numbness and draw closer to our Savior. I know He is ready to receive anyone and everyone, so long as we come unto Him with full purpose of heart, willing to obey Him and His gospel. Christ lives and loves us. No trial is too great for His power, and no darkness is too thick for His light to disperse. This is my testimony.

 

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Lessons From A Dream

So I had a really interesting dream a few nights ago. I dreamt I was in an airport with my family, ending my mission. In the dream itself, I woke up the next morning, not a missionary, and had a great time hanging out with people. I honestly can’t remember who the people were, but I remember it was really sweet. It was just such an amazing feeling, the fact that I had accomplished my mission and was now beginning the next great chapter in my life.

Then I woke up. My sight met darkness, and after a brief moment of confusion I realized I was back in my bed in Montana. I’ll admit I felt a little frustrated when I also realized I still had six months left to go on my mission. It was a strange experience, mostly because it was the first time I had a dream specifically about finishing my mission. I remained in my frustration for most of the morning, wondering why in the world I would be given such an experience. I already have enough difficulty trying to keep my mind focused throughout the day. The last thing I needed was a dream about going home!

All these thoughts vanished away, however, as I realized that perhaps the Lord was trying to teach me something with this dream. These are some things that I’ve gathered from my thoughts.

1. The end doesn’t come easy.

Life is a journey, and the destination doesn’t usually arrive in an instant. If we want to get somewhere, we need to do some enduring and exercise some patience. From point A to point B there may be some distance. In my case, it’s six months. So be patient and enjoy the journey.

2. Prepare for the end, the time between really isn’t that much.

My second thought was, “Holy buckets! Six months? That’s nothing!” It really isn’t. One and a half years flew by like nobody’s business, six months definitely won’t take very long. I only have six months left to learn all I can learn as a full-time missionary. I only have six months left to share the gospel with as many people as I can. I think my dream was a good reminder to me that my time is short and I need to use it wisely. Am I always able to do that? Certainly not. I’m not great at managing my minutes. Wasting time was pretty much a hobby of mine before my mission. Anyone who knows me very well can second that. But I’m trying to do better and learn from my mistakes.

So basically I did a 180 and became rather grateful for the dream. The Lord knows what I need, so… I probably needed it. Don’t let a minute pass you by. Make the most of your time, and when you screw up, seek counsel and forgiveness from the Lord and then move on with your life. And don’t think so much about your destinations that you miss out on the experiences the journeys can give you.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

 

The Poetic Corner: The Roots

The Roots

here at Your feet, i give my friend
my hands can’t help, my voice can’t send
the right words to wake her from sleep
she doesn’t believe
she doesn’t need You, she thinks

her tree has withered
but the roots still exist
as much as she hates it
as much as she resists
Your love rings true
deep down where the sun
has yet to dry the roots

there in the sand, i see my friend
my hands can’t reach
her feet can’t stand
upon that ground
i tried and found i was sinking down
but Your hands lifted me back up
please do the same for her
she’s far from home
please bring her back to Earth

her tree has dried
but the roots still remain
as much as she denies it
as much as she complains
Your love rings true
deep down where the sun
has yet to dry the roots

Written about a friend of mine back home, I think this can apply to all of us at one point or another. Sometimes we are the friend, doubtful and losing faith in our Father in Heaven and in our Savior. Sometimes we are the narrator, helplessly looking on as a family member or friend struggles with their collapsing testimony of Christ and His gospel. Whatever role we take, we sometimes forget about the roots. In this case, I’m not talking about the roots in Christ’s parable of the sower. The “roots” in this poem is the Light of Christ within each of us.

The prophet Moroni, the last author in the Book of Mormon, gives us this explanation,

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.(Moroni 7:16, 19)

The Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Christ, is within each of us. He is the light and life of the world. Even those who try to reject the Savior still have His light within them. For some it is dim, but it is still there. This is our root system. Everyone and everything possesses these “roots” because although our Father in Heaven is the creator of everything spiritual, Christ, under the direction of the Father, created everything physically.

So whether you are the one doubting, or the one trying to help the doubter, remember the roots. The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, woman, and child. It is the light within each of us that drives us to do good. So dig down and find the roots. They can once again grow to a tree.

The Poetic Corner: The Altar

The Altar

 

let me down without a sound
i’ve been wreckless but i finally figured out
Your love can save me
can i still make up for how
i let my faith in You go south?
tell me what You see buried inside me
and i’ll give my heart to You

You brought me to the altar
my life in Your hands
it is tried and broken
erase the memories of
the light i’ve stolen
i am tried and broken

this is how i will shout
i’ve been hopeless but i finally see it now
Your light can wake me
is this why the world around
is fighting back to keep me bound?
help me to be free
from what has tied me
so i can be like You

You brought me to the altar
my life in Your hands
it is tried and broken
erase the memories of
the light i’ve stolen
i am tried and broken

take my life and make me something great
here at the altar i awake
forgive my past with its mistakes
here at the altar i awake

 

In the Mosaic law, the Jews offered animal sacrifices for sin and other things. Such was their commandment from the Lord. But Christ came to fulfill the Mosaic law, giving us a higher law to obey. Animal sacrifices were done away with. Instead, we must offer up something that goes much deeper than rams or turtle doves.

When the Savior Jesus Christ visited the inhabitants of the Americas after His resurrection, He said to them,

And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost… (3 Nephi 9:19-20)

Christ has told us to offer Him a broken heart and a contrite (sorrowful) spirit. Our “altar” of sacrifice is no longer a literal, physical structure but a spiritual manifestation of our willingness to give our lives to Christ. We all are stained with sin, and it can only be removed by approaching our individual “altars” and offering up our broken hearts and contrite spirits. This is not all, though. If our hearts truly are broken, and our spirits truly contrite, we will repent and forsake our sins. We will desire to be like Jesus Christ and change our wills to be in line with His.

This change involves the simple steps of having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins, being baptized by someone holding His authority, and then, by that same authority, we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as did the disciples in the New Testament and Book of Mormon. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. (3 Nephi 12:19)

 

Study. Learn. Ask.

In the Book of Mormon, a group of people known as the Jaredites make a journey from the Holy Land to the New World, the Americas. They build barges as the Lord instructs them, boats that are shut tight, like two dishes. There’s no light in these barges, however, and they don’t want to travel across the ocean in darkness.

So a man, referred to as the brother of Jared, calls upon the Lord to ask Him what should be done. The Lord tells the brother of Jared that they can’t have windows, ’cause they would be just break from the force of the waves. They also couldn’t take fire, ’cause… well… that just wouldn’t be possible… or smart. So what did the Lord tell him to do?

…ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea? (Ether 2:25)

The Lord simply says, “What do you think should be done?”

Many times in life the Lord answers our prayers in such a manner. He certainly has in my life. He wants us to learn things for ourselves. That’s why we have the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, so we can read for ourselves and learn. We have been blessed with free will. We can choose how to live our lives, and if the Lord needs to tell us how to live out every minute, we are not using the intelligence and the free will He gave to us.

We must always come to Him in prayer and, for lack of a better way to put it, a second opinion. But first we need to think for ourselves, study God’s word, and then ask Him if what we’ve decided is in accordance to His will. If we do this, we will gain a much higher appreciation for the scriptures and the abilities the Lord has blessed us with.

Oh, and if you’re curious about what the brother of Jared did to have light in the barges, just click the link above and read the next chapter. 🙂

The Poetic Corner: Give the Burden to Me

I haven’t posted any of my poems recently. I think I’ll start trying to do that more. Here’s one I wrote recently.

Give the Burden to Me

I know you are crying
though no one sees your tears
I know you are trying
though no one thinks you care
let My love set you free
give the burden to Me
give the burden to Me

I know you are hurting
though no one sees your pain
I know you are searching
though no one sees you pray
let My strength help you breathe
give the burden to Me

’cause I love you
I died to let you live
and I know you
I live to lift you up

so quit dragging your feet
have faith for tomorrow
there’s no need
to waste life in sorrow
you can see
i’ve lifted the weight from your back
so you could stand up straight

’cause I love you
I died to let you live
and I know you
I live to lift you up

because I know your shame
they spit in My face
and though your hands may ache
Mine are engraved
so don’t you think that I don’t know your pain
I bled every pore for your sake

’cause I descended below you and all things
so I could lift you and place your pains on Me
so give the burden to Me
give the burden to Me

 

Though the world does not see and usually doesn’t care about our problems, the Savior does. Though our family and friends may not notice our problems, our Savior does. Jesus Christ understands us. From the everyday struggles to the seemingly impossible trials, He knows them all. He suffered for it all, and He wants us to give Him those burdens so we can stand up and face the world.

He didn’t die so we could sit in a dark corner and feel sorry for ourselves. He did die for us, but then He rose from the dead with a perfected and glorified body. He lives so we can do the same. He lifts and gives us strength to conquer our trials.

Christ invites us to take His yoke upon us. We must do our part and pull what weight we can, but whatever we cannot pull, He will. He will carry the rest for us. So allow Christ to strengthen you. Give the burdens to Him.

 

Walk the Walk

So my compañero and I were knocking doors the other day. After about the sixth door, someone finally answered and he let us right in. I’m always a little bit suspicious when that happens, but  he was a very nice man and started the conversation by asking us some questions about the LDS church and how LDS missions work. We answered all of his inquires, but then he shifted the discussion a little by asking us how we viewed the whole “receiving Jesus into your heart” thing.

The conversation got a little more interesting, and we started telling him about some more specific doctrines pertaining to The Church of Jesus Christ. It eventually turned to the doctrine of salvation, and what constitutes being “saved.”

He made sure we understood that many “Mormon” doctrines don’t quite fall under the “umbrella of classic Christianity.” This is something that my companion and I are very well aware of. Many things that The Church of Jesus Christ teaches don’t agree completely with the traditions of what the world now likes to call “mainstream” Christianity.

Naturally, talking about salvation, we delved into faith and works. He was all for faith, which of course is a necessary thing. We must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he told us, “Don’t hang your hat on works.” Well, duh, I know I can’t earn my way to Heaven. I don’t know if people just think we’re stupid or something, but we know very well that only through the Atonement of Christ can anyone have any hope of salvation. Without Him, and without having faith in Him, our good works are in vain, and profit us nothing… because we’d all be damned to Hell. Simple.

I quoted James and told him that “faith without works is dead.” He tried to explain that good works come as a result of our faith and… as far as I understood it, ultimately don’t even matter anyway. They’re just… good things to do. We asked him about the Ten Commandments, if it was needful to obey them in order to gain salvation. His answer was no.

A bit puzzled, I said, “You don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments? So basically you can just be a bad person?” He said yes. Well, now that was interesting, ’cause last time I checked, they were still called the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Creative Ideas.

I’m sorry (no, I’m really not), but “receiving Jesus into your heart” is more than just proclaiming a belief in Him and His atoning sacrifice. If you’re going to receive Him into your heart, then you better darn well get out there and do something about it.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21)

There are the words of Cephas himself. Christ suffered for us, not so we could sit on our butts and not obey His commandments, but that so we could see His example and follow it. “Work out your own salvation”, as Paul states to the Philippians, but still maintain an understanding that salvation comes “not of works, lest any man should boast,” as he counsels the Ephesians.

Find your faith in Christ and show it, otherwise your “faith without works is dead”, as James so boldly proclaimed. You may tell your neighbor, who is in need of food and clothing, to be fed and clothed, but what’s it going to do if you don’t do anything about it? If you proclaim your faith in Christ, that’s great, but if you seriously think that’s all there is to being worthy to receive the glory of God, you’ve got something to reconsider.

God didn’t go through the trouble of creating this entire world and placing us here for eighty something years just so we could say “Lord Jesus I receive you into my heart” and automatically become “saved.” You know what? Salvation isn’t cheap. It doesn’t come from saying a few lines that some random pastor guy made up off the top of his head. Christ didn’t suffer for that.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

You believe in Christ? That’s great, so do the evil spirits that flood this earth. Does their belief in the Son of God do anything for them? No, because it’s not just about believing, it’s also about living a life that’s in harmony with what Jesus Christ taught.

So if believing that our salvation is also dependent on being a good person somehow makes me a non-Christian, then I suppose by today’s standards I’m not a Christian. But I do know that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that He lives again. And I know that only through His grace can we hope to be saved. Christ’s atonement is the bridge that has been built over the gulf of misery. Without it, our destination, no matter how good of person we were in this life, would be Hell. But with it, we can escape the captivity of the devil and enter into salvation. We must walk across that bridge, however. Standing there and saying, “That bridge has saved me!” is not going to get you over that bridge.

I know that through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances, all mankind may be saved, and that the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ is the only thing that has made that possible for us. His sacrifice has opened the door into eternal life, but He has left it up to us… to walk through it.