Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pay It Forward

Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
(Luke 10:37)
I've been remarkably blessed in my life. I was born into a good family and I've never wanted for food, shelter, or medical care. With all these blessings, it is hard to feel comfortable accepting help from others. So many people have wanted to help when they heard about our baby boy Gideon. He was born with spina bifida.

So far, it looks like he's racked up about $30,000 in hospital and doctor bills. Our share of the cost, after insurance, is manageable but certainly not pocket change. We've worked under the assumption for a while that we'll have to adjust how we live and do without some things to make up the difference.

To our great surprise, someone I barely know recently gave me a check that will cover a substantial portion of Gideon's medical expenses. The weight of gratitude is very heavy. The sense of urgency to "pay it forward" is overwhelming, especially in the face of a lifetime of being taught the importance of self reliance.

Perhaps we are called not only to "lift another's burden," but also to allow others to lift our own burdens. In our season of need, we receive. In our season of abundance, we share. All done willingly and without compulsion.

That is Zion.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spencer Kimball on Trolley Square

Naturally, Spencer W. Kimball has weighed in on the recent tragedy at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City. I left the following as a comment on a blog asking the age old question: Why would a loving God allow the Trolley Square massacre?

Many Latter-day Saints throughout the state recently read a lesson in Priesthood and Relief Society meetings based on statements from Spencer Kimball, a past president of the church. The lesson was titled “Tragedy or Destiny?” President Kimball said the following.

“Could the Lord have prevented these tragedies? The answer is, Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death, if he will. But he will not.”

Later, he went on to say, “If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.

“If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil—all would do good but not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, only satanic controls.”

Trials are hard while we endure them and it can take many years of perspective to find appreciation. In the meantime, our hearts go out to those who are hurting today because of this and so many other tragedies around the globe.

UPDATE: I just noticed that audio of President Kimball's talk, Tragedy or Destiny, is available from BYU Speeches.

Friday, February 09, 2007

"Let me bury my father"

Have we become too soft, have the Lord's expectations changed, or are life altering sacrifices no longer necessary?

We make a lot of efforts in the church not to inconvenience people. We try not to leave people in church callings too long. We limit the number of hours we're asked to do church work. We are no longer required to contribute budget money to the church. We're even asked NOT to spend our own money on our callings.

Are we making the sorts of sacrifices that will make us strong enough to greet the Lord when he returns? I wonder.

Gerald Lund reported overhearing a seminary teacher explain part of Brigham Young's great success in colonizing Utah. By the time they arrived in Utah, the spiritually weak had fallen away and the physically weak had died. What was left was pure steel, ready to be incorporated into the Kingdom of God.

I'm afraid I'm not pure steel.

In our recent stake conference, a bishop talked of his experience as a young man being encouraged by his own bishop to go on a mission. His response at the time was less than enthusiastic. "Maybe after the baseball season is over." Instantly my mind called up a scripture I'd recently read.

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:59-62)

It has been explained to me that to "bury my father" meant to care for an aging parent until his death--however long that might take. I'd think that would be pretty important business for anyone. But once Jesus issued the call to follow him, he expected people to trust in him to make it work. That's hard counsel for me to comprehend and accept.

I don't think the requirement of discipleship have changed in our day. So what is it we will be called to do to sacrifice like Abraham of old?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Fall of the Two Towers: DT is Going Down

I lived in V hall of Deseret Towers while I was a Freshman at BYU. I recently walked past the heap of rubble that remains of the building and watched giant machines picking apart the remains. If you have sentimental attachment to either V or W hall, both of which are now gone, you can watch some time lapse images of one of the towers going down.

Apparently, they had asked to implode the buildings but weren't able to get permission from the powers that be. So instead it was torn down chunk by chunk. According to BYU Magazine, the other five buildings will be closed this summer.

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