The Poetic Corner: Take Me Away

in the middle of this road i am looking both ways and say

why did You place me here today?

it always seems that i can’t keep up to what You’re thinking

all the dreams i’ve had will fade away

 

at times i cry

‘cause i can’t work past mistakes

but still i try

‘cause You’re finding a better place for me

 

why did You take me away

from where i thought i needed to be?

please just answer me

how is this right when it seems wrong?

 

how can i make a difference

when i don’t see the relevance to why i’m here?

a repeated history this appears

will this ever end?

will i be looking for a purpose

for the rest of my existence?

 

why did You take me away

from where i thought i needed to be?

please just answer me

how is this right when it seems wrong?

 

it seems wrong, but i must go on

so as i stand on this road i look both ways and say

i know You’ve placed me here today

‘cause all the plans of my life are in Your hands

and this is how You help me understand

 

I was excited to be transferred down to Billings. I had always wanted to serve in Billings, yet I never really thought it would happen. With only six weeks left in my mission, I was confused when my mission president asked me to come down and finish it off here. He said he needed my leadership, but in all honesty I doubted his judgment. I’ll admit, I still wonder why I was placed here when I felt that Plentywood, Montana was where I really needed to be. I’ve had great experiences here. I’ve met awesome missionaries and awesome people in general, but in the back of my mind the question of “Who am I supposed to affect?” still lingers.

You’ve probably had similar experiences, where plans changed and you found yourself somewhere unexpected. Maybe, like me, you wondered, “Why does God want me here?” Well, of course, God doesn’t make mistakes. He certainly never puts us anywhere by accident. There is always someone to help or something to learn… or most likely both.

A scripture that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5-6. Maybe you’ve heard or read it before.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Most often, we won’t understand why we’ve been placed somewhere. The Lord doesn’t always expect us to understand. He expects us to trust thatHe understands. If we acknowledge Him in all we do, He will certainly be the beacon that will guide us in the right direction.

Traveling to the Americas in the Book of Mormon, Lehi and his family were guided by a compass that worked solely upon their faith in the Lord. Speaking of this compass, Alma, another Book of Mormon prophet, spoke these words to one of his sons,

For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. (Alma 37:44-45)

By following the counsel from the scriptures and the Lord’s living prophets, we too can be led to a better land. I definitely believe that so long as one is doing his or her best to live in harmony with the gospel, the Lord will always lead them to someplace better. Wherever we end up in life, the Lord has a purpose for it. When the Lord’s people are obedient, He always leads them to somewhere better.

Deeper Magic and the Wisdom of God

In the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the character Edmund betrays Aslan’s trust and joins himself with the White Witch. He eventually realizes his mistake and comes back to the Narnian side, but this was done at a price.

Aslan offered to sacrifice himself to the White Witch to allow Edmund to go free. During the night, Aslan arrived at the Table where he was to be killed. The White Witch and her group were waiting for him. Though he was stronger than them all, Aslan allowed them to cut off his mane, mock him, tie him to the stone Table and kill him.

Unbeknownst to the White Witch, Susan and Lucy had followed Aslan and had witnessed the awful scene. In the morning, when everyone had left, they approached Aslan’s lifeless body. Their despair over his death was only felt for a short time though, as the Table cracked and Aslan appeared to them, brought back to life, vibrant, and his mane restored.

Confused, Lucy asks Aslan if what happened was magic. Aslan said that it was indeed magic, and that there was Deeper Magic that the White Witch wasn’t aware of. If she had read the inscriptions on the Table with the wisdom that comes from the Deeper Magic, she would have known that a willing sacrifice on the Table, in place of a traitor, could not actually be killed. The Table would crack and the victim instead of rise, fully restored.

This, of course, is an allusion to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What I like about the event, though, is the fact that Aslan’s wisdom and knowledge far surpassed that of the witch. She thought she had won, but she had only delayed her defeat.

I take comfort in the fact that God is all-wise and all-powerful. Although Satan may have great manipulation over the fallen world that we live in, he cannot know the mind of God. God’s wisdom and greatness are too awesome, too superior for Satan to comprehend.

One example of this is the Fall of Adam and Eve. Satan tempted Eve, thinking to destroy the plan of God by making them fall from their state of being. Instead, he was only progressing our Heavenly Father’s plan, by being the catalyst for the mortal existence of mankind, necessary for us to gain the experience we need and progress on to the next stage in our existence.

And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world. (Moses 4:6)

The White Witch sought to destroy Aslan, but she didn’t know the Deeper Magic that came from Aslan’s father, therefore she failed in her attempt. Satan sought to destroy God’ work, but he as well did not have the wisdom to comprehend God’s  great plan of salvation for His children, therefore he also failed in his attempt.

We can trust that God knows all, and that all things that seem wrong will be made right by His power and His wisdom. Satan truly has no power, but what we give him. He may think himself intelligent, but God is infinitely greater. So when things become rough, and perhaps all seems lost, remember that God has it covered. Aslan knew what he was doing, and so does our Heavenly Father.

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)

 

Hi-De-Ho there, Neighbor!

“Hi-De-Ho there, Neighbor!” was a phrase I commonly heard during my childhood. Watching the sitcom Home Improvement was something I did a lot. If, by chance, you’re unfamiliar with this show, let me break it down for you. The plotline basically follows the life of macho man Tim Taylor, his wife Jill, and their three boys Brad, Randy, and Mark. Tim co-hosts a local tv show called Tool Time with his buddy Al. Tim is a masculine guy, a man’s man. He loves tools, wood, cars, and power.

Tim’s antics throughout the show tend to land him in trouble of one kind or another. Whether it’s with work or his wife, he always seems to have another problem to solve and a new lesson to learn each episode. The Taylor’s neighbor, Wilson, is probably the wisest, nicest guy anyone could ever meet. He’s a true friend to the Taylors, especially Tim. Whenever Tim gets into a bind, it always ends up with him calling over the fence to Wilson for some sage advice on his most recent troubles.

In our own lives, our thickheaded behaviors can often land us in difficult situations. Like Tim, we may find ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what to do about ourselves and why no seems to want to understand. And also like Tim, the problem is most often with ourselves and not others around us. So what can we do? Who can we turn to?

If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

We must turn to God. Like Wilson, He’s always out in the yard. Or I suppose it would be more like… out in… the universe. Either way, He’s there. All we need to do is be humble enough to approach Him. In the show, a lot of times Tim would try to solve the problem himself, relying on his own wisdom. Eventually though, and sometimes quickly, he would realize that he needed the help of someone wiser.

We may only be able to catch glimpses of Him in our lives (maybe only the top part of his face!), or we may not see Him at all. But He is there. He’s just on the other side of the fence.

The Restoration: Of Knowledge

A bit of wise counsel I’d like to share from Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-19)

Pride cometh before the fall. This is true in all aspects of life, including education and knowledge. I’m sure many would agree that, today, society as a whole has shunned the wisdom of God. We have come far in such a short amount of time. Technological and scientific advances are astounding. More and more information is being discovered each day. But are these truly our advances, or are they blessings from God?

As our knowledge has moved forward, our faith in God has taken a decline. Jacob’s words are true. We no longer hearken to the counsel of God, but instead have made steps to remove Him from our societies. We think we don’t need Him, when in reality every step we’ve made has been because of His love and kindness.

In love, God the Father and Jesus Christ restored The Church of Jesus Christ to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. The heavens are wide open, and revelation is being poured out through living prophets and apostles and through ourselves. The priesthood authority that Jesus Christ personally brought during His earthly ministry is back in full force.

From the early 19th century until the present time, just look at all the advances we have made! The fact that all of the remarkable inventions and discoveries began the same time as the Restoration of Christ’s gospel is no coincidence.

I know that these blessings have sprouted because Jesus Christ’s church is once again on the earth. By recognizing God and Christ in all things, our knowledge can bring us further blessings. Let us not shun Them from society, but bring Them back, because “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.”

All things done in order.

At the beginning of each day, we may find ourselves with a list of things to do. Chores to complete, work to finish, people to see, things to study, etc. Whether it’s a lengthy list or a mercifully short one, we often want it to be done all at once. Sometimes we might glance at each item listed, or review them in our minds, and think that it’s simply impossible. We may wonder how God could possibly think we can do all the things that are placed before us.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin gave some solid advice pertaining to this subject. In Mosiah 4:27 it reads,

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

see that all these things are done in wisdom and order – Stop. Slow down. Think about the things that need to be accomplished. When our chores are piled high, the last thing we need to do is rush through them.

it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength – Heavenly Father does not expect us to do more than we are able. Think of Jesus’s parable of the widow’s mite. She only gave two coins, though others gave many. But it was all she had to offer, and from a righteous perspective, she gave more than the rich.

God does not issue us a challenge we do not have the strength to overcome. He will not put a mountain before you if you can only climb a hill. Honestly review your strengths and weaknesses, and then put an honest effort into your tasks. That is all your Father in Heaven asks of you.

expedient that he should diligent, that thereby he might win the prize – Diligence is sincere, zealous obedience. If we expect to accomplish our goals, we must strive to do all we can. If we can climb that hill, we are expected to do so, even if we have to strain a bit to get over the top.

all things must be done in order – Going full circle now. Slow down and take the time needed to perform the work. When you encounter a speed bump while driving, you slow down. And so it is with life.

Slow down. Review strengths and weaknesses. Understand that God does not send us something we cannot overcome. Listen to the Spirit. Do all things in wisdom and order.

I know that by doing these things, we can accomplish anything we have set to do. God knows you and knows that you can succeed. He wants your success. Put your trust in Him, your faith in Christ, and listen to the Holy Spirit.

Line Upon Line

As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, studying the scriptures is a big part of my everyday life. In fact, I study every morning. And before I study, I pray to God that I might learn something new and grow in my understanding of Jesus Christ’s gospel. Not every morning though, do I feel like that was accomplished. Was that because I truly learned nothing from my studies? I should think not.

I’ll admit I don’t always give my studies the full attention they deserve. I sometimes space out, think about what happened the previous day, what might happen during that day, or I might be thinking about something completely unrelated to missionary work. It happens. I’m far from perfect, and I’m also an artist who is prone to frequent daydreaming. So when I finish my studies and close up whatever book I was reading, I often feel like I didn’t learn anything at all. No sudden realization, no epiphany, no vast amount of knowledge that has suddenly found place within my mind. You’ve probably had a lot of similar experiences with your own studies, of any kind.

That’s because we rarely ever learn things through sudden occurrences. We read in 2 Nephi 28:30,

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

The Lord understands our weaknesses. We often forget. We often take for granted. We often don’t care. The Lord knows that we learn better through baby steps. I know that every morning I take something from my studies. Often, I do not entirely understand or recognize what it was, but I know that piece of knowledge is there, and that in time it will build to a greater understanding. I’ve learned a great deal over the years, but is only a fraction, if that, of the things I could learn. It is simply a matter of time, and I must put trust in the Lord that He is guiding me to the things that I need to know.

I testify that the Lord can give us great knowledge and understanding, but it is through patience, diligence, and faith that we receive it, a little at a time.