Take a look at the glasses through which you see the world. Examine your own bias, your personal astigmatism. Adjust your correction from time to time by questioning what it is you see and how you see it. The world can be a surprising place if we're willing to see it in a new way.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing one of the best sermons I've ever heard from a pulpit. I was visiting the services held for the residents of the care center where my dad is now being cared for because of advanced Alzheimer's disease. Mom and I and two of my children were there with Dad.
The speaker was an old rancher who apologized for his lack of experience in religious speaking and knowledge of scripture and doctrine. Instead he said he would talk about cows because that's what he knows. He said cows are a lot like people.
He told a story of when he was nearly 12 years old and assigned the responsibility of moving the herd from winter range in the valley to summer range on the mountain. He was excited to be named trail boss as his only hand was another boy a few months younger than himself. The two boys were to get the herd to a midway point where they would meet the older boy's dad who would help them finish the drive.
Eager to show his dad how good of a cowboy he could be, the young trail boss worked very hard to keep all the cows on the road and moving along perfectly. His horse was doing a lot of work and once the two boys arrived at the midpoint, the horse had worked up a lather of sweat.
As the boys ate their breakfast, brought by the dad, the cows and horses rested. Before getting started up the mountain again, the father took his son aside and told him, "Son, a good cowboy doesn't work his horse on cows that are headed in the right direction."
Our speaker said he has thought about that wisdom his entire life. He continued with the story, indicating that when they got the cows moving again, he noticed that most of them were heading in the right direction. Some would wander a little off the road. Some would take a little shortcut when the road turned.
When they arrived at the gate to the winter range, he had to ride up ahead of the herd to open the gate so the cows could go through. He opened the gate and looked back. There were about a dozen trails leading to the gate from all directions made from so many previous years. He realized that most of the cows were always going in the right direction generally and would eventually get to the gate from one direction or another.
He told us that people are like those cows and the gate is like baptism and other ordinances of the gospel. Many of us wander by the wayside, but as long as we're headed in the right direction, the Lord through His grace will help us get through the gate.
So if you're riding herd on your kids or others in your life who need to get through the gates, you ought to take it easier when they are heading in the right direction. Just follow along and keep 'em going toward the gate. The Lord will do the rest.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 255–56).
I believe him.
A few days ago, we found this bay stallion with his two mares just over the Colorado border on Missouri Creek near Dragon, Utah, an old gilsonite mining ghost town. As we stopped to watch them, he nervously paced back and forth protecting the mares that had trotted away when we pulled up. I was impressed by his defiance of the threat and his willingness to protect his own.
His beautiful bay coat is covered in dry mud which I'm sure was a cool roll in a recent rain slicked earth. The black mane and overall conformation makes me think he's descended from a fine Morgan line.
I wonder if we look out for those we love as well as this amazing stallion does his small harem. Are we willing to stand up to forces we do not recognize or understand? Do we overcome our own fears to watch over those who rely upon us? What can we learn from the Stallion of Missouri Creek?
While Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, there were two blind men sitting by the road. Think of them as ourselves. Are we too blind?
These men called out to Jesus and begged for mercy. He stopped and asked them what they wanted him to do for them. Of course they asked to receive their sight. Matthew records the Master's response in this way.
Matthew 20:34 (KJV): "So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him."
In such a short sentence Matthew conveys some great lessons. First, is the Lord's great capacity for compassion. Second, that Christ will touch those on whom he has compassion. Third, that we can receive immediate blessings from Him through faith. And finally, that the mark of true disciples who have received their sight is that they follow Him.
Do you call out to Him in faith? Will you see? Will you follow Him?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, he looked out upon her and wept for its wickedness and imminent destruction. These were his people and they, except for a few, had not recognized him, as had been prophesied, yet he had compassion on them.
Luke 19 (KJV)
41 ¶ And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
I hope that we will each learn to recognize the works of the Lord in our own lives, that we will embrace him and love to serve him as we serve others.
Take a moment today to recognize someone in your path as one you can lift a little with a kind word or a hug. Listen for a moment and see them as the Lord might. Then you will bring a little of the Lord's peace into their life and your life.
"...we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." ~2 Nephi 25:25-26 (Book of Mormon)
We are God's children living in a fallen mortal state where we are tested that we might prove worthy to return and live with him. But we all fall short. We are not perfect as we must be to live with God. In His infinite wisdom God provided a plan whereby we might overcome our imperfections. This great plan of happiness requires a saviour to step forward and pay the price for our sins. God's firstborn in the spirit stepped forward and said, "Here am I. Send me."
It is through the grace of his atoning sacrifice that we may be made clean and worthy to enter into God's kingdom. I am so grateful for this blessing in our lives. Let us embrace our Saviour Jesus Christ and follow him in every way we can.
As you work your way through life, what serves as your boot, heel and stirrup to keep you balanced and in the saddle? What tools do you use to do your job?
Life can be a bit rough and tumble. It can throw us on the ground, flat on our back, but if we get up and move forward, dust ourselves off and climb back in the saddle, put out boots in the stirrups and kick our heels in just a little, the horse we're on will get us through the day.