Becoming Complete

What completes us? I pondered this as I drove to the temple this morning. I thought of our church ward’s ambitious goal to complete temple ordinances for nearly 500 people in October. I felt I had completed proxy ordinances for several people this month, but as I drove I considered the word “complete” and it took on a much deeper meaning.

Months ago I was doing a proxy ordinance for a man named Elijah whose name had been submitted by a dear sister in our ward. As I went to put his name back in the file, it was complete. All the work that could be done had been done. We didn’t know his parents so he couldn’t be sealed to them. As I was about to put his name in the ‘completed’ bin, I found I could not. I found myself praying and then saying to Elijah, “I promise you we will find your parents”. I felt his pleading presence there. That Sunday I told this sister what had happened and by that evening received a text forwarded from my wife saying, “I found the parents for Elijah… I can’t thank you enough for all you have done to help. Let your husband know how much I appreciate him for letting me know of his experience with Elijah and the promise he made to him about finding his parents. It was so easy to find them. I am always amazed how fast the information is available.”

Our families complete us.  We are not complete without those we love.

All covenants, …oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed… are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. D&C 132:7

A ward church leader asked us to report all the temple work completed in October. When I did, he explained that ‘completed’ meant all the work was done for an individual, including sealings of families for time and eternity. This morning I pondered how impossible that really is with our mortal constraints. We will do our very best, but this work can never be complete without the direction and inspiration of Heaven. We simply don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.

Our loved ones won’t be complete until they are joined their missing children, wives and grandparents. They won’t be complete until their loved ones who desire to come to the Savior, do come to the Savior. Our first parents, Adam and Eve will not be complete until all their children who can yet be sealed to them for time and eternity, are sealed, so that every tear can be dried and every soul receive a fullness of joy according to that which they are willing to receive. It won’t be complete until our Savior stands on mount Zion and says, “It is finished”, and there is time no longer.

In that day, I will be complete.

For now… I will find joy in the journey. This morning as I prepared to leave the temple, I offered a prayer and felt an outpouring of love from those who were just sealed with their loved ones. It filled my heart and gave me peace. What is not complete now will certainly be complete in the perfect day if we keep choosing the higher path.

A Mountain To Climb

I love mountains. I spent my summers growing up on my grandfather’s sheep ranch situated at a ~9200’ elevation. It was full of beautiful pine and aspen trees and wild flowers. I loved being there, though sometimes I thought I would never get warm and the ranch work was often lonely.

Henry B. Eyring counseled us to ask the Lord for mountains to climb. As I’ve done this I’ve felt his words fulfilled that, “great blessing could come from adversity to more than compensate for any cost”. In this post I hope to show that while the ‘Higher Path’ is harder to commence, it is worth the journey, and in doing so we’ll be sustained beyond our own abilities and become more than we otherwise could.

Almost There…

One winter while in high school, my friend and I decided to climb the Wellsville Mountain Range just east of my home on New Year’s Eve. These mountains are quite steep, rising out of the valley floor about 5000’ at about a 45 degree angle. We started strong and full of optimism, but as we neared the top, we were struggling from walking on the snow. My friend finally lay down and said he would go no further. I encouraged him upward but he closed his eyes and wouldn’t budge.

I was worried. As I watched, he burrowed down a bit and went to sleep. I so wanted to see the summit, but stories of people who fell asleep in the snow and froze to death weighed on my mind. We were so close. I decided to go on… just a little further.  It only required about 20 more minutes to crest the ridge-line, but then to my great disappointment I viewed a long upward slope going to the higher peak we had hoped to reach. My anticipated vista was also obscured by a wind that so misted the scene with powdered snow that I could hardly see anything beyond a several hundred feet. To reach the peak I would have to leave my friend much longer than I was comfortable and so I returned to my sleeping friend and we walked back down together.

He and I had a great story to tell at the New Year’s Eve dance that night, but I always had a hollow feeling to have not reached the summit.

 

Just a Little Further…

I got a chance to redeem that hike this summer with my son who just returned from a mission serving the Hmong people in Sacramento. I wanted to take him hiking in Wyoming as I had done with my other sons but there wasn’t time, so I asked him to hike with me instead to the highest peak near my home, Thurston Peak at the edge of Davis and Morgan Counties.

I prepared for an estimated 7-hour hike, but because it was nearly a mile in altitude gain from our car and because we lost the trail several times, we really struggled and it ended up taking us 11-hours.

We started at the Adam’s Canyon trailhead which was packed with cars, mostly of people seeking the cool, shaded trail to the waterfall in the canyon, a pleasant and beautiful walk. People don’t typically get beyond the waterfall because it forms a kind of a box-canyon, with a steep rock face and with no safe ascent without climbing gear.

Initial Step: Get Above the Canyon

To reach the summit we had to depart from the well-traveled trail almost immediately upon reaching the ancient shoreline. This higher path ascended a very steep hill, and was far more exposed to the sun. Lesson one for this hike was that we basically always had to choose the higher path at the earliest possible opportunity to succeed.

An early tender mercy came when we stopped an experienced hiker who advised us, “If you are going to the summit, watch for a small spring. When you cross it, be looking for a trail to branch off to your left. The trail is overgrown and hard to follow, but someone marked it with a pile of rocks. If you continue on the default path, you will go through that saddle and end up at the Adam’s Canyon Cabin. The cabin is in a basin and you won’t make the summit from there.”

It was hot and the bottles of water we brought were going faster than I had hoped, and then there were the snakes. Malachi spotted the empty skin of a rattlesnake on a high ridge and one snake between some rocks. They appeared to be staying out of the hot sun just under the edge of rocks we wanted to walk over to stay on the ridge line. On the way up and back I spotted two more snakes where we wanted to walk, and yes, they were quite aware of us, raising their heads defensively.

For that reason alone we began to really dread losing the trail. We crossed the tiny spring and searched for the trail upward, but just before entering the saddle (pass) that we had been warned about, we decided we would have to make our own trail by forging on through scrub oak that was too thick for us to see the ground beneath. This meant pulling ourselves up with our arms and it took a lot out of us.

The additional time and exertion meant we became woefully short on water. We had 3-bottles apiece but by the time we reached the beautiful summit we had drank basically all of it.View of the Francis Peak Radar Domes from Thurston Peak

This is where I felt the Lord provided for us. It was almost the last day of July, but He had left us a still un-melted bank of snow on the North-Eastern exposure of the peak. After enjoying a beautiful crystal clear view of both Morgan and Davis county, we refilled out bottles using the snow and had lunch.

On the way down my son grew weary and began having sun-stroke symptoms. As our water ran out again we reached the tiny spring. Once again I felt the Lord was helping us. The trickle of water was so small that it took over a minute for me to fill a bottle for my son.  He was dubious as to whether it was clean enough to drink, but later as his condition worsened, he gladly finished it even as he exclaimed, “I didn’t think I would drink it!”

Final Descent

That lasted us to the last hour of the hike. I didn’t have water for the last two hours, but it was affecting me less than my son. We walked with our arms on each other’s shoulders at the end of the hike. It felt good to support each other as when one of us lost footing on the steep descent, the other would stabilize him.

The Lord strengthened me beyond my endurance. I ended up lightly supporting my son at the end and down the final switchbacks. He was getting a bit dizzy. He handed me the car keys in the parking lot and encouraged me to drive home.  I offered a prayer of gratitude on the way home. We had been protected in multiple ways and had been enabled to reach one of my life’s goals.

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.“ (Joel 3:14)

Don’t give up! We get out of the valley of decision by determining to make right choices no matter the consequence and staying that course!

The Great Equalizer

It seems that with the Spirit’s role to give comfort, warn and inspire, we often forget His role as sanctifier. Before Christ departed from the Nephites, he said, “Repent that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost”. Paul also speaks of, “salvation through sanctification of the Spirit”. Don’t underplay the Holy Spirit’s role as sanctifier.

Whether a nursery leader or a prophet, as you live to have the Spirit, you will be exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you need to be doing. Perhaps the reason why the simple truth that no call is above another in the service of God, is because all such service sincerely offered will enable one to be led on the path that will eventually bring the same sweet sanctification that all of us seek.

Christ will sit as a purifier of silver in his great day and the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost he promised will take full effect. We will become clean and cease to live in regret for the times we have resisted the Spirit. There is no other way to receive a fullness of joy.

For our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, our Celestial glory is their glory, their work to bring to pass the “immortality and eternal life of man“.  In the Celestial economy, our glory does not rob their glory. And so, no matter how small it seems our contribution is, the Spirit will be the great equalizer, enabling us in power, dominion and glory, for the Father has promised us all that he hath.

Step 11: Personal Revelation

One Sunday morning I was conversing with my wife when I stopped midway through a sentence and I said, “I need to go talk to a friend.” I didn’t know why. As I approached the home I saw my friend sitting on a chair on the side of the road with his head down in utter dejection.

I had first met him just a few months before, and only knew who he was because I had a strong impression to walk home from church on a prior Sunday. I had met him at nearly the same spot. Because I wear my service missionary name-tag on my suit he soon understood my calling was to help with addiction recovery. At that time he had opened up to me that he was trying to overcome a substance abuse problem and I had gladly offered encouragement and resources that could help him and give him hope. Now I was without words. I sat next to him in silence because I could see he was heartbroken. Seeing me in my Sunday best, he said, “I don’t want to keep you. You are busy.” I responded, “I left home early to talk to you, so I am busy doing what I intended.” It turned out that he had been dishonest and taken things from the family that had taken him in, in order to feed his addiction. On several occasions he had broken his word and the family finally had to tell him he could no longer stay. He had nowhere to go.  I sat with him and told him I cared, with my own heart breaking. He wondered out loud what would happen. I told him I didn’t know but would do my best to help. I got his number and before the end of the day had connected him with a bishop and elder’s quorum president, along with a potential referral to the Deseret Industries where we could get him a job coach. This helped start forming a bridge for a dear, struggling son of God.

These stories are difficult to share in an open forum because personal revelation is… personal…

I believe the key to receiving revelation is obedience. It is our real intent to do whatever the will of the Lord is when he makes it known. When we are obedient to what we receive, we are given more. God could prove himself to us at any time, even in our rebellion, but he is not a man that needs to prove himself. He could open the Heavens and show us marvelous things but rather He waits for us to seek Him, and then the personal revelation comes, most often very quietly. If we bend our will to His, and don’t let doubts dry the dews of inspiration that the Lord puts in our hearts and minds, we will come to recognize and know His Spirit.

I remember consulting with a former bishop about an event that I had failed to attend that troubled me. He began telling me it was alright, when I interjected, “You don’t understand. I was supposed to be there.” A sudden understanding flooded his features and in a rather subdued tone he said, “I know what you mean.”  I sensed a pain in his soul that matched my own.  This man of profound spiritual experience had the same poignant feeling because there is always a blessing in the balance when the Holy Ghost is whispering for us to act.

Personal Revelation and Personal Purity

Personal revelation is a necessary condition for redemption of each of God’s children and is no less important for addiction recovery. When the Lord said to pray, “Lead us not into temptation”, he really did mean that he would lead us if we would listen.

Step 11: Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out.

God’s miracles rarely happen the same way twice, and so too the escape path from falling in sin often differs. When I hear men say, “I don’t understand it. I have been doing everything I’m supposed to: scriptures and prayer every morning, but the temptations are even worse.”  Scriptures are critical to our life’s foundation, but what is powerfully reinforcing, at one time may feel contrived or simply be too passive at other times. You can’t distract an addiction on a false pretense. At times like this the Spirit may tell us that the escape path is to go jogging. It may encourage one to temporarily give a personal electronic device to a loved one for safekeeping. It may whisper to give service to a neighbor. This is why the Spirit’s whispers are so crucial.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 10:13

The Spirit will always lead us out of temptations grip if we are willing to listen and follow, but we need to really desire deliverance and we need to seek it humbly in prayer with our whole heart. Welcome to Step 11 in our personal recovery: personal revelation.

Most of the time I find the personal revelation that comes to me is to serve others, but that is Step 12… the final step of the recovery program.

Eagle Court of Honor Song

This is a song that I wrote as my sons were getting their eagle scout advancement.  The eagle badge is a metaphor for our lives. I felt it needed something special.

I have a small ensemble version of it as well. It is enhanced with a simple drumbeat, reminiscent of Indian drums…

TheFledglingEagle (music in pdf format)

Lyrics for The Fledgling Eagle

The fledgling eagle has his start,

Safe, protected in a nest,

Care and nurture give him strength,

High above the ancient forest

Fly high and strong above the mountains

Your journey calls across the land

Fly high and free, in honor be,

On wings borne up, by unseen hand

The eagle grows and tries his wing,

Sees the landscape far below

Cautiously he ventures forth

Tests the air, and then lets go.

He forges onward and he meets,

Dangers and the storms of night

He bears his setbacks patiently,

In his heart’s a noble light.

The eagle flies above the earth,

His powerful wings unfurled

In pale moonlight on silvered wing

He lets his cry be heard

His gaze is sharp his vision clear

Unmarred by earthly care,

He sets his sights on Heaven’s heights,

And fills his mission there!

The ancient eagle in the sun,

Wisdom gained through service wrought,

Feathers grayed and eyes grown dim,

He rests at last, his fight is fought.

Fly high and free above the sunset,

Your journey now a peaceful land,

Fly high and free, in honor be,

On wings borne up, by unseen hands

Step 10: Don’t Fall off the Bridge!

My young niece held my hand as we began to cross a suspension bridge consisting of a large pipe crossing a shallow canyon creek. She had easily walked on top of the gently sloped pipe where the pipe was just above the ground but as she got above the creek she started to slow and grow unsteady. I quickly said, “Don’t look down. Look ahead to where you’re going!” She raised her eyes to the opposite bank and immediately started to improve. She moved forward with confidence and safely crossed.

Step 10 is daily, or even moment-to-moment to look at our thoughts, feelings and motives and immediately change course when we see the patterns that would take us into old patterns of destructive behavior. But it is just as much about looking ahead, examining our thoughts, feelings and motives for anything that is taking our eyes off our goal and when something is amiss, we immediately repent, and turn our face to our Savior.

With addiction recovery, it is easy to become so concerned about the addiction that one becomes continually fixated on the river below rather than the path forward and the ultimate joy of recovery.  If you focus on the river… you will likely fall in the river or turn back in despair!

It is impossible to give someone the enabling power to consistently look forward and make right choices. It takes practice, just as it if one were learning art or music or a sport. Practice makes permanent! Practice right!

I am an engineer.  Whenever I pride myself on understanding a difficult concept, the Lord humbles me by bringing me to someone who is a true expert. As part of an integrated chip design team, a co-worker who had spent much of his career designing and perfecting phase locked loop circuits told me excitedly that he could teach me how these circuits worked in a way that I would never forget. I had never gone beyond the basics of these wonderful circuits that can solve critical timing issues and create output clocks with a much higher frequency than a given input clock.

He launched into the discussion with marked enthusiasm, disclosing a wealth of knowledge. Though not a member of my faith, he related there is something deeply spiritual about how when the circuit has proper gain and tuning the phase locks reliably and output jitter is suppressed. After 15-minutes or so of his analogies and technical observations, I asked him to pause as I was already missing several key points. He was visibly disappointed, saying, “But in just a few minutes, you’ll have it!”

“But I won’t,” I responded, “You have spent much of your life pondering and mastering what you are teaching. I’m very grateful. This is fascinating but I haven’t paid the price. Without doing so there are too many things I simply don’t understand.” Here he was trying to give me the treasure of his heart, and I wasn’t ready to receive it.

After over 50 years as a general authority, Boyd K. Packer said:

“Much of what I have come to know falls into the category of things which cannot be taught but can be learned.”

He continues, “Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering. These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”

Come and learn what can’t be taught!

Step 10: Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

Step 9: Repairing what’s Broken

My company’s president was under duress. It was our company Christmas dinner party and I knew he was struggling after losing key employees in Japan where he and our main office was located. The American employees didn’t know what was happening, but I did because I had been invited to join the new company that the key employees had formed. I really did want to join them. The new company president was my dear friend, but I was feeling guilty that it would let my old company president down.

At the dinner I expressed appreciation for the meal and asked if he was alright. He replied, “そう言ってくれるのはハーパーだけです”.  The words still haunt me: “The only one who would say that to me is you.” My guilt suddenly redoubled. I was just days away from having to confirm the decision to change companies.

In my last post on Step 8, I wrote about becoming willing to forgive another who caused me pain. In this step, I desire to talk about seeking forgiveness from one who I hurt. I still feel this keenly.

Step 9: Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

I did finally announce I would be changing jobs. At the time I was designing a key enhancement for our product line. I was surprised when my old company president flew back to our office to try and convince me to stay, but I had given what I thought was more than proper notice, with added time to train a successor to take over development. The Spirit told me I must finish that project work first, but I couldn’t get things done in the given time frame and transitioned to the new company anyway.

I had let my former president down and the trust he had put in me was broken. Part of me was broken at the same time. After some months I sent a letter of apology to him. I never heard back.

My most poignant and heart-torn feelings come when I think there may be someone I am not reconciled to in the eternities. Oh what I would give to look my dear old president in the eye and thank him and repair that breach. This is the feeling I desire for every person I have known.

There is one that I reached out to that did reach back to me:

D&C 45:4-5 “…Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

 5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.

Christ wants us back. Here is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was rejected of men and yet waits with open arms to receive any who come unto him. Let us be faithful. As we really try, I know that somehow he will make everything right.

Step 8: Robotics and Relationships

I have long paused on writing about this step, possibly because I still don’t feel its complete. Of all spiritual gifts we will take with us out of this world, the relationships, including those with deity, are perhaps the most precious. Relationships are victimized by addiction, which turns one selfishly inward. It should be no wonder that recovering from addiction requires the step of turning outward to repair every offense and rebuild every sound relationship possible.

Step 8: make a written list of all people you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.

In so doing, there is a beautiful reminder in the ARP manual that when we seek forgiveness from others, we also need to seek to forgive. I will focus this writing on a very troubling time in my life where I needed to learn to forgive.

The first 6-years of my career were spent developing robotics equipment. My first job was in Osaka, Japan but I eventually ended up designing and supporting a line of robotic equipment in California. It was good, hard work, but a vicious split occurred in the company. The vice president in Japan started his own robotics company invited me to join him. We had developed a true friendship and I decided I wanted to keep working with him. I was excited to help bring our ideas to fruition. He became our new company president.

I wrote and tested software for the system in America, while our design team in Japan developed the hardware. Then times got really rough. Allegations of stolen design materials from the original company surfaced and our investors began playing financial hardball to buy the new company at a high discount. At that point a promoter joined our company, promising to save our operations by getting us new funding. Instead, I believe he found a means to blackmail our new company president. He began drawing an exorbitant salary while insisting our salaries be lowered.

His new finance plans were to have me create fake claims of large robotics orders that were contingent on us finishing our development. He would say, “I have a bank account containing millions of dollars. I just need the key.” He obviously felt I was an important part of that key. He tried to pressure me into many illegal actions. Sometimes international calls would come in the middle of the night when I couldn’t think straight. He would insist I do what he said, adding, “Everyone knows subordinates just have to do what they are told. You will never face legal problems for this. I am the one responsible!” I began to tense with dread every time I heard a phone ring.

I guess in the end I wasn’t the key he had hoped for. Money ran low. My dear friend, the new president in Japan, suddenly disappeared with his little family. I don’t know where he went, but I believe he fled his country. Then I got a call from a respected co-worker in Japan who told me they could no longer continue paying me. My heart flooded with relief. It was finally over.

For years I struggled with hard feelings over this. It was truly traumatic for me, but I found a place of healing in the Celestial Room of the Bountiful Temple. This room filled with light and inspiration. I have seen and felt miracles occur in many rooms in multiple temples, but this room is particularly special to me. One does not go to the temple expecting miracles. One simply knows that they will occur.

Window to the Celestial Room – Bountiful Temple (C) David C. Moore 2009

Here I pondered this step and I asked myself, “Is there anyone who, if they came through the doors into this glorious room, that I wouldn’t be overjoyed to see?” This promoter came to mind and I considered the repentance process it takes to get there, to stand in this holy place that is an extension of Heaven itself. As I envisioned him completely cleansed from sin, I was able to say with my whole heart, “Oh, I would have great joy to see him here!”

I intend to live my life so that I can greet anyone in the eternities and find joy being with them. I will address the other side of this in Step 9. The question being, “Is there anyone I have offended that would feel uncomfortable being there because of me?”

If you are having a hard time forgiving others, remember that we don’t know who will have a change of heart. We need to forgive all men. Yes, you need to follow the Spirit to protect yourself and your family. Some relationships won’t be healed here. But remember, there is a brighter day:

“And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” D&C 130:2

Fireside: Overcoming Personal Challenges Using the Atonement

Chad Hymus put on a special fireside Jan 15 in Farmington specifically to bless those overcoming personal challenges using the atonement. The fireside was organized by the Davis County LDS Addiction Recovery Program.

It was the result of a ‘chance’ meeting between our mission coordinators, Kent and Donna Jones and Chad at a restaurant. When he understood the addiction recovery work going on, he gladly offered, “I need to speak to your group.” It was quite an opportunity to have a nationally renown speaker.

Fireside Flyer

 

It is difficult to capture the things I always want to remember from this fireside, but here are a few:

#1 – Be proactive. Listen to the Spirit. When you see someone who needs help, don’t sit and think about it, just do it. Many are called, but few do it.

He used the example of a volunteer from the attendees that he had try to drink from a water bottle without using his hands. At the end he made the point. “I’ve tried to teach about being proactive for 30+ minutes, but I’ve failed to make the point and that’s my fault. Did any of you feel like you should have gone to help him?” Some did feel that, but none did.

#2 – Few people remember what you say but people do remember how you make them feel.  He borrowed a man’s cell phone and had him send his wife a loving text during the meeting. It was all about him thinking of her without the words, “I love you”. He said, “She will feel that love without the words because in his text to her, you will notice he never used the word, ‘I’. When I wasn’t teachable in the hospital, it was all about me. I will never walk again. I will never play ball with my sons. I won’t be able to be a good husband. Get rid of ‘I’ and get to you and us. Small 30-second messages can make all the difference”.

#3 – Change your habits. The number one cause for death among paraplegics is that they get pressure sores. For him, he had to give up boots, which was a big deal because he was an elk rancher. His father explained he would retain water in his feet, so he would have to get shoes of a style he was unaccustomed to, get them one size too big and put them on using his mouth. “It took me 2 1/2 months before I tried, and another 2-months to master it.”

Story:

The day of his accident, he was on his way home to see his son who his wife had just informed him had just taken his first steps. He stopped at his elk ranch to put out a 2500 lb bale of hay, but ignored a hydraulics warning light. “I had grown accustomed to it being okay, so I didn’t refill it.” The hay bale was lifted when the hydraulics failed and came down with crushing force. His wife first thought he had died. At the distress call 5-cowboys, state troopers and a paramedic arrived. 8-men in all released him from the pinning weight, bearing some 360 lbs apiece.

He woke up from a coma some 3+ weeks later and began a difficult recovery. His father at first could help him little until he became teachable. Then a visit from the apostle Neil A Maxwell helped pull him out of his deep stoop he was in with some pointed questions that helped him remove his real paralysis. It is a tragic and inspiring story.

We were deeply touched that he got his fourth child just yesterday – a little boy from Ethiopia that they have been trying to adopt for four years.

Chad Hymas Links:

Facebook

 

Step 7: Humility and the Gift of the Chinchilla

Have you ever wanted something you didn’t deserve?

I had a wonderful science teacher in junior high. He taught a summer course I was enrolled in. He taught many basic scientific principles, but what really caught my fancy were the animals he kept. There was the rattlesnake that he would allow us to feed whenever a child brought in a live mouse. The serpent invoked a sense of respectful horror when observed in action. It was always unnerving to think of that snake escaping.

At the other end of the spectrum were the chinchillas. These friendly little critters were like super-soft puff balls. A cotton-ball feels like sandpaper when compared to a chinchilla. I loved these furry grey creatures and so, when one day the teacher indicated that he would give one of the chinchillas away in exchange for a bag of feed, I could hardly contain my excitement. I immediately pressed my dad about the offer and he agreed to help. In my youthful mind, I didn’t really understand the nature of the exchange. I somehow justified in my mind that my teacher really wanted to see that we could take care of the chinchilla and so he wouldn’t mind if we kept part of the feed. My teacher was a bit disappointed in my offer, but seeing my excitement he agreed to the discounted exchange.

chinchilla

I was pretty poorly set up for this furry creature. The old cage I had wasn’t ideal, and I soon found that he wasn’t as friendly as I had thought. Being alone in an unfamiliar place in a back shop area made him nervous. He escaped me when I took him out and he disappeared into the debris of the shop… and so ended my days as a pet chinchilla owner. I didn’t deserve the gift because I hadn’t really paid for it, and now I had lost it.

The point of this cautionary tale is that special gifts require special preparation. In Step 7 we ask our Heavenly Father for a gift:

Step 7: Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.

This request drove me to my knees in tearful humility. I so wanted this gift, but I am so overwhelmed by weaknesses, but something changed deep in my soul when I asked with my whole heart, holding nothing back.

As I sat in the Salt Lake Temple waiting for a session to begin, I sought guidance in where to read and my fingers were led to section 76. The only scriptures that held my gaze were verses 92-95, where it tells of Celestial Glory excelling in all things, where all things bow in humble reverence and give God, even the Father glory forever and ever… where beings see as they are seen and know as they are known. “And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.”

As I pondered a world with perfect discernment of all things, the spirit nudged me to move forward to D&C 78:18

And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.

This was given me of the Spirit and felt I was washed completely clean as the day I was baptized. I gained faith that I could eventually make it. I have to watch myself in my thoughts, heart and action (there are more steps!), but it gave me hope.

Seek this gift with your whole heart! None of us want what we deserve! With repentance, this gift that we could never claim on our own merits will be freely given.