Sunday, October 10, 2010

I will go and do

More blood tests last Thursday to monitor Talitha’s bone marrow progress.

The platelets count and hematocrit reading look great. It’s still the white blood cell count (WBC) and absolute neutrophil count (ANC) that are lagging and keeping Tali out of public places as a precaution against sickness while her defenses are still compromised.

(WBC was 3200 and the ANC was 1000)

One of my favorite stories from the scriptures is of a young boy whose dad asked him to do something really hard. The fact that his dad also happened to be a prophet didn’t make things any easier especially since his brothers were pretty rebellious and didn’t care much for the things of God.

Nephi and his family had left Jerusalem as directed by God which ended up saving their lives from the invasion that destroyed Jerusalem just a few years after they left.

Now Nephi’s father was asking his brothers and him to go back to Jerusalem and risk their lives to get a scriptural record recorded on brass plates so they would have God’s word on their journey to a new land.

Instead of complaining like his brothers had, Nephi responded, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

The scriptures are filled with examples of this same faith to do what God requires no matter the cost and certainly in spite of extreme inconvenience.

And in every case, when the Lord commands, He also makes it possible to do.

A couple of days ago I found myself on route to Logan, Utah for an early morning wedding. There’s a beautiful LDS Temple in Logan built by early Utah settlers nearly 150 years ago. That’s where the wedding was held.

The driver I was riding with was none other than the bishop of our ward. (A ward is like a parish.)

Talk about a fascinating and inspiring ride for 2 hours each way!

Suffice it to say, I learned a lot during that drive.

In our church bishops aren’t paid for the service they render to the members. None of the positions/callings in our ward are paid positions. But it’s not really volunteer work either. You see, everyone is expected to help out but you don’t just jump into any position you want.

Whether it’s teaching a Sunday School class, or serving as a secretary, or any of the dozens of positions that need to be filled in order for the ward to run smoothly, members are called by their leaders to serve. And just like Nephi, when the call comes, we have the choice to say “yes” or “no”. But if everyone said “no”, nothing would ever get done.

To make things even more interesting, you aren’t called to a position because of your resume or other apparent qualifications. In almost every case, the person called feels inadequate and the timing of the call is rarely convenient.

Perhaps you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Talitha.

When Talitha was 2 months old, she received a formal blessing—a baby blessing—as is customary to do in our church.

My November 1, 2008 journal entry recalls some of what was spoken in that blessing (the words of the blessing addressed Talitha directly):

• “You came when you did for a specific reason and purpose.”

• “You will touch the lives of many people.”

• “You will have the ability and gift to touch and reach people, even those that are hard to touch and reach.”

• “Blessed to have faith not fear.”

• “Blessed with more courage than the trial.”

Clearly the Lord knew what was coming and blessed little Talitha with specific gifts to help her with those challenges. It’s very humbling to already see the fulfillment of some of what God promised Talitha in a blessing 14 months before her diagnosis.

I’m one of those that Talitha has touched.

I will never be the same and gratefully so.

One of the things that hit me during the trip to Logan with Bishop Edgington is the reality that a trial is like a call to serve. Trials—just like callings—usually:

1. come when least expected,

2. aren’t something you feel prepared to do,

3. make you wonder what the Lord is up to,

4. make you weak in the knees (probably so you’ll remember to fall to your knees),

5. require faith to accept,

6. can be handled with an attitude of your choosing whether good or bad.

7. And most importantly—the Lord ALWAYS provides a way for you to get through the trial if you work with Him and not against Him.

I thought the comparison was a little off when it came to being able to say “yes” or “no” to a trial. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more it’s become clear that we absolutely can accept or reject a trial.

Saying “no” to a calling because we are too busy or too afraid or too anything doesn’t make “too busy” or “too afraid” or “too anything” go away.

The same applies with rejecting a trial. Refusing to accept a trial doesn’t change the reality of the situation. Saying “no” to a trial just leads to anger, bitterness, resentment, and fist shaking at God. Such stubbornness blocks learning and growth that a loving Father in Heaven is anxious to provide.

There’s a great story in the Bible about this very thing. Jonah was called to preach in Ninevah—i.e. he was given a calling to serve. He refused. He was issued the same call again, this time in the form of a trial—i.e. he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a giant fish or whale. He could have said “no” to this trial, yelled at God, and died. Fortunately, he said “yes” to this trial and learned a great lesson and was an instrument in the Lord’s hand in reclaiming the people of Ninevah.

I’m not implying by this example that saying “no” to a calling will bring another call in the form of a trial. I am exploring the similarities between callings and trials and how faith is required to successfully navigate both. It also appears that God uses both to bless and lift His children.

Because of what I’ve experienced, I know for myself that I don’t have to be afraid of what the Lord will ask me to do. I don’t have to worry or fret or hide.

I always believed that God loves His children. Now I know that His love is beyond our greatest imagination. He will stop at nothing to secure our souls that we may forever experience true peace, happiness, and joy.

Callings and trials are an integral part of this life’s experience. It is my hope that we will learn to trust God so much that faith will push aside our fears as we confidently say:

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no [callings or trials], save he shall prepare a way…” (1 Nephi 3:7)

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