Saturday, November 22, 2014

Each Word Chosen Carefully

But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren. (Words of Mormon 1:6)

Grandma Zehrbach always told the best bedtime stories. On warm summer nights when I couldn’t quite settle into sleep, Grandma would lay beside me in the twin bed that used to be my mothers, and tell me stories about little girls quite like myself. The crickets outside the window sang and garden scents floated into the room, as the princesses in my dreams climbed trees just like I did and had grand adventures just like mine. The little girls in Grandma's stories were always smart and wise and kind, just like me. Oh how I loved her bedtime stories! 

My Dad told stories too. His were true- about his childhood. I laughed so hard I cried when Dad told about chasing a greased pig as a boy, slipping and sliding around the pasture (Ew!). And the time Grandma put a pot roast on to cook while everyone went to church. Everyone, that is, except for Uncle Bill, who was working on the railroad. He arrived home shortly before everyone else returned and finding a delicious pot roast on the stove, sat down and ate the entire thing! I never met Uncle Bill, but I think his appetite was carried on to my sons. 

I love scripture stories, too. I always have. I am filled with courage when I read of Daniel in the lion’s den, courage to do what was right even if it is scary. When I read of the young boy Jesus teaching in the temple, I recognized that sometimes children go to church when their parents don’t. And so I did. Soon enough my parents joined me, but those first years of church attendance were fueled by an understanding based on scripture. 

I am a child of the modern age,
I am a son of the present hour.
What can these words from so long ago
Mean to me now?

The Scriptures exist today because someone (actually, several someones) bothered to write them down. How beautiful are their words! Their voices speak peace to my heart and mind, and because of sacred words, we are all instructed in the ways of the Lord. 

We are the prophets, years gone by.
We spent our days, we gave our lives
For a record which was written not for us,
But for you. And every word is true.

Thankfully, someone wrote my Dad’s stories down (most likely Mom), as well as the stories of many other ancestors. Dad’s stories provided a foundation of love and acceptance for others that has continued in my heart ever since.  The longer I live, the more precious their words become to me. Yet, there is a small thing missing- the stories of their struggles and trials. My grandmother was widowed at a young age…how I wish she had recorded her thoughts and feelings. I have only her living example witnessed through youthful eyes to help me understand how to go on. Those stories, written and un-written have inspired me as I continue writing memories and testimonies of my own- for my children and grandchildren.

Ancient prophets like Isaiah, Paul and Mormon wrote not just to make a record, but to specifically make a record of their testimonies for future generations. Isaiah looked into our time and made a record of his warnings. My faith is stronger because of their words. I am lifted to a place of understanding as I read and, like Mormon, the words are choice unto me!

Each word chosen prayerfully,
Laid down carefully in its place.
For here, from so far away,
We have seen your day
And we pray;
Hear what we have to say!

(What Can They Have to Say? - Steven Kapp Perry)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Endure to the End

The nice looking business man in the airplane seat next to me said, “Yes, I was saved a few years ago when I became a Christian. I’m always learning new things about what that means, and how to have faith.” We talked about faith as something that grows as we use it, but sometimes using faith is hard. Later I thought about his comment about being ‘Saved’. 

So often people believe that being saved is a single act; words spoken as the Spirit moves our hearts, and that’s all that is needed. But being saved involves so much more than just saying so. We know that His Grace is sufficient for everyone. But truly being saved involves acting on our faith daily. It involves remaining to committed to His gospel through thick and thin, and by following His example. 

"And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved."
(2 Nephi 31:15 -16)

One of my dear friends was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis while in her 30’s. From the very beginning, she has displayed such a cheerful attitude and has been faithful in enduring. She enjoyed a short reprieve from the effects of her disease for a time, during which she had two beautiful children. But soon, she began to lose strength and agility in her legs. Before long she was walking with the aid of crutches. Yet she remained positive and cheerful. She is known by many as one with a delightful sense of humor. One day I bumped into her in the grocery store, she was using a motorized scooter. But the light in her eyes was unmistakeable. She was not only enduring, she was improving spiritually. Several months later she called to let me know that her family was going to be sealed in the temple. I was thrilled for her, but I was also greatly impressed with her joyful determination to endure to the end. She is an example to me of someone who could easily say, “I’ve been saved, and my life is hard, so I’ll just sit right here and do nothing more.” but she has instead continued to serve others, serve her family and love and serve the Lord. And she does so joyfully. To me, she is a happy example of Enduring to the End.

The very word ‘endure’ implies some kind of hardship, or resistance. Even so, I don’t believe our enduring has to be mournful or sad. What is the point of enduring if we cannot feel joy at knowing the source of our endurance, the Savior’s Atonement? I love the simple reminder in Nephi’s words, 

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
(2 Nephi 31:20)