Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Talk Today in Church

Good Morning Brothers and Sisters. I have learned a great deal from preparing this talk. One of those is that the Lord is always watching and has a great sense of humor. I have been asked to talk about a talk given by Sister Ann Dibbs entitled, “Hold On” that was given in this last session of conference. I remembered this talk as soon as Brother Titus as me to speak on it. My family and I had a discussion when it was over about how big her smile was while telling of the tragedy that she told. As my family discussed we decided that her smile had been way too big for the tragedy and I hope today to not have the same issue as you listen to my talk. I am excited and humbled to be talking to you each today and I hope that the Spirit will touch you all with the message that you need to hear.

Sister Dibbs begins her talk by telling the story of an accident that happened on a bridge in St. Catharines, Ontario. Four people were killed and another seven had been rescued after clinging for more than an hour to the underside of a 125-foot-high bridge after the scaffolding they were working on collapsed. The survivors had held on to a one-inch lip of steel girder and stood on an eight-inch ledge of steel for over an hour until the rescue teams could reach them. Apparently this bridge had been worked on for about a year and they were two weeks away from completing the project. Officials began to question why these men did not have any safety equipment. The answer came back that they had safety equipment but they chose not to wear it.

She related this to our own lives and there will be times that we are faced with scary situations. She said that sometimes we feel as though we are holding on to what may seem like a one-inch lip of steel girder. She explained that our mortal life is not easy or brief. And yet our mortal life is a blessing. It is a time for us to come to earth and gain a mortal body. It is an opportunity for us to be able to prove ourselves to our Heavenly Father. We have been given an opportunity to exercise our agency in choosing to follow our Father in Heaven’s eternal plan of salvation or trying to find our own way.
Our time here in this mortal probation could be seen as a hazardous job description. We may experience loneliness, strained relationships, betrayal of trust, temptations, addictions, limitations of our physical body, or the loss of much-needed employment. We may be challenged to feel disappointment. We may question our own abilities and fear the possibility of failure. These challenges that we face today were prophesied by the ancient and living prophets. These challenges are equivalent to us falling 125 feet to certain death from a high bridge.

I found comfort in Sister Dibbs’ words as she described that she, herself, dealt with trials and challenges. She explained that her life was not perfect. She reminded me that there are very few stories in the scriptures of individuals who lived in blissful happiness and experienced no opposition. It is through those trials and challenges that we allow our faith, persistence, and personal righteousness to grow.

President Thomas S. Monson said, “Remember that you are entitled to our [Heavenly] Father’s blessings in this work. He did not call you to your privileged post to walk alone, without guidance, trusting to luck. On the contrary, He knows your skill, He realizes your devotion, and He will convert your supposed inadequacies to recognized strengths. He has promised: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up’”

We have not been left alone in this mortal life. We have all of the safety equipment that we need. We have personal prayer, the scriptures, living prophets, and the Holy Ghost. She also mentions that the we have another piece of safety equipment and that is the rod of iron. She invites us to study once again the account of Lehi’s vision and what it means as we hold to this safety railing. As we hold onto that iron rod then we are blessed to never perish and that we will overcome the adversary. President Harold B. Lee said, “If there is any one thing most needed in this time of tumult and frustration, when men and women and youth and young adults are desperately seeking for answers to the problems which afflict mankind, it is an ‘iron rod’ as a safe guide along the straight path on the way to eternal life, amidst the strange and devious roadways that would eventually lead to destruction and to the ruin of all that is ‘virtuous, lovely, or of good report’”. She said that in latter-days we have been invited to “get a grip”. She said that sometimes wearing safety equipment is cumbersome, awkward, and horribly unfashionable. And yet if we are diligent, obedient, and persistent thet this safety equipment will be for our own personal benefit and gain and for the gain and benefit of those around us. Holding on to this iron rod is not always easy. But as we let go of the iron rod we leave our safety equipment behind us. However, I want to reassure that even if we let go and wander through life it is always possible to return to the iron rod through repentance. This repentance was made possible by the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, and as we repent then we can recommit to having a strong grip on the iron rod.

I know that there are times in each of our lives when we feel as though we are hanging on the bridge as those men were in Canada. I know that there are times in our lives that are scary. Yet I know that as we hang onto the rod and as we wear our safety equipment that we will blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. And that as we continue down the straight and narrow path that we will be blessed to return to our Father in Heaven again. I am so grateful for what a tremendous reminder this was in my life this past week. I am grateful for the opportunity to recommit to having that firm grip on the iron rod. I hope and pray that we will each recommit to holding onto the rod of iron and using our other safety equipment. I know that we have a Savior in Heaven who atoned for our sins. I know that we have a Father in Heaven that hasn’t left us alone, He hasn’t abandoned us. I know that as we stand scared on that bridge that the rescue team will come just as the sun always rises after the darkest night. I am grateful for those opportunities in which I have had to cling to the ledge and to exercise my faith in my Father in Heaven. I am so grateful for this church and all of its teachings. I am grateful for the growth that I have achieved in the year that I have spent in this ward. I am grateful for the example of those around me. I know that we have a true and living prophet today that will teach us and remind us to hold onto the rod. I know that the scriptures are true and that as we read them we will blessed in our lives. I know that the Lord knows each and every one of us personally and wants each of us to make it back to him. I know that as we use our safety equipment that we will. I say these things and leave you my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Endings

So I have decided that I am a sucker for happy endings. I love things with happy endings and silver linings and things that make you feel good when you get done reading them. I like things that aren't necessarily realistic. I don't enjoy reading about the real-world-struggles. I like reading things like Ramona Quimby and how the worst thing that happens to her is having to use toothpaste from a bag because she squeezed the whole tube out. If that is the worst thing that happens in my day, I am doing pretty good.

For school this semester I have had to read "The Kite Runner." I had a hard time with this book because it is so sad. Every time a silver lining would come along, it would be crushed just a quickly as it came. I knew it was sad before I started to read it but I just kept hoping it wouldn't be so sad at the end. Every time a silver lining would disappear, it would break my heart. I think the reason I can't handle real-world-struggles in fictional things is because I relate too closely to the characters. I get excited when they succeed and I get troubled with their worries and saddened at their defeats in life. This book was filled with those saddened, troubled times. I have to say that I enjoyed the book when it was all said and done. I will never read it again. But I can't deny that even though that book was so hard to read the quality of that book was amazing.