The Trick is to Thank the Lord for Letting You Have the Ride

President Hinckley reminded us that the trials and struggles we have in life are part of the journey:


 I have had my head bumped and my shins barked. On some of these occasions when I have needed a laugh I have turned to a letter which I think is something of a classic, which was first published in the Manchester, England,Guardian and later reprinted in the Deseret News.

A hurricane had hit the West Indies, and a bricklayer was sent to repair the damage. He wrote to the home office as follows, and I hope you can get this delightful picture:

Respected Sirs:

When I got to the building I found that the hurricane had knocked some bricks off the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks. When I had fixed the building, there was a lot of bricks left over. I hoisted the barrel back up again and secured the line at the bottom, and then went up and filled the barrel with the extra bricks. Then I went to the bottom and cast off the line. Unfortunately the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was, and before I knew what was happening the barrel started down, jerking me off the ground. I decided to hang on, and halfway up I met the barrel coming down and received a severe blow on the shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my finger jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground it bursted its bottom, allowing all the bricks to spill out. I was now heavier than the barrel and so started down again at high speed. Halfway down, I met the barrel coming up and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the bricks, getting several painful cuts from the sharp edges. At this point I must have lost my presence of mind because I let go of the line. The barrel then came down, giving me another heavy blow on the head and putting me in the hospital. I respectfully request sick leave.

Life is like that—ups and downs, a bump on the head, and a crack on the shins. It was ever thus. Hamlet went about crying, “To be or not to be,” but that didn’t solve any of his problems. There is something of a tendency among us to think that everything must be lovely and rosy and beautiful without realizing that even adversity has some sweet uses. One of my favorite newspaper columnists is Jenkin Lloyd Jones. In a recent article published in the News, he commented:

There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks, to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and ravishing wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear, the divorce courts are jammed.

Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .

Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.

September 25, 1973 | BYU Devotional |“God Shall Give unto You Knowledge by His Holy Spirit”

A True Neighbor

What does it mean to be a true friend? Consider this,

“Our challenges will be a lot less dramatic than a tar-and-feathering; certainly they won’t involve a crucifixion. And maybe they won’t even be very personal matters at all. Maybe they will involve someone else—perhaps an injustice done to a neighbor, a person much less popular and privileged than yourself.

In cataloging life’s little battles, this may be the least attractive kind of war for you, a bitter cup you especially don’t wish to drink because there seems to be so little advantage in it for you. After all, it’s really someone else’s problem, and like Hamlet you may well lament that “time is out of joint; O cursed spite, / That ever [you were] born to set it right!” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 1, sc. 5, lines 187–88). But set it right you must, for “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). And in times of such Doniphan-like defense, it may be risky, even dangerous, to stand true.

Martin Luther King once said,

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life. [Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (New York: Harper and Row, 1963)]”

“Bitter Cup and the Bloody Baptism”
Jeffrey R. Holland, 13 January 1987.

What do they have to say?

Today we got a rare opportunity to go down as a family to the Missionary Training Center and volunteer in the TRC. It is an opportunity to help missionaries preparing to go out in the field to practice their Romanian, teaching the gospel.

In the years since I went through, they changed the format to focus on us as individuals instead of us trying to take on some assumed role (like someone who has never heard of the Church). It is simple, but I think it does a lot to help the missionaries focus on the Spirit and meeting needs instead of technique or style.

As a major part of their lesson, they focused on ‘enduring to the end, which means something totally different to me now as a father of two than it did as a student or missionary. With any previous role, it always had pretty clear statute of limitations, an expiration date, a goal line. But as a Father, and in a faith that believes the family is eternal–it is a completely different type of end than I’ve previously encountered. It’s not an end of time or material resources we’re talking about. It’s more along the lines of at the end of your wits, and ‘after all you can do’ kind of end.

So in that thought process, I considered how do I know the best way forward? I think therein lies my love and excitement around LDS General Conference.

Shortly after coming home, my Bishop shared with me his experience coming home from my mission and finding the guidance he needed to endure to the end, from conference. It is an opportunity to hear from inspired men, who have the authority to speak truth and light the path.

I know for some Conference is a chance to take a Sunday off. After all, we get it printed and we’ll hear about many of the talks in Church meetings for the next six months until the next conference.

My evidence is anecdotal, but it is personal. I believe a special spirit and degree of heightened insight comes from demonstrating to the Lord that what the leaders of the Church have to say is important to you. There’s something about that exercise of faith to prepare for and actively listen to conference that brings answers to prayers, peace to the troubled mind and a confirmation to the heart that God is not only mindful of you and your needs, but that He is actively participating in guiding the efforts of this Church.

Come and see. There truly is something for everyone.
General Conference on

Temptation, the Power of Suggestion

As I get older, I can appreciate more and more the charge that a Book of Mormon prophet gave to “watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds,” (Mosiah 4:30).

I think its the same wisdom in ‘garbage in, garbage out’ and ‘you are what you eat.’ This has been driven home further for me as I watch my two children under the age of two develop and grow. Watching them has taught me how to recognize better how what I see or hear influences me.

The observation I am arriving at is the enhanced ability and access this gives the adversary to tempt us. In recent years, different Church leaders have affirmed that the power of Satan is real, but limited. He cannot read our thoughts, but can entice us. However, he is a damned spirit without a body, he doesn’t have the ability to reach out and affect our lives directly.

In a recent conference address, Elder L. Tom Perry cautioned us to not estimate the adversary’s determination to seek our misery since his fall from grace:

Satan, however, was not done. His backup plan—the plan he has been executing since the time of Adam and Eve—was to tempt men and women, essentially to prove we are undeserving of the God-given gift of agency. Satan has many reasons for doing what he does. Perhaps the most powerful is the motive of revenge, but he also wants to make men and women miserable like he is miserable. None of us should ever underestimate how driven Satan is to succeed. His role in God’s eternal plan creates “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11) and tests our agency. Each choice you and I make is a test of our agency—whether we choose to be obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God is actually a choice between “liberty and eternal life” and “captivity and death.”

Obedience to Law is Liberty“, L. Tom Perry

In a day where there really are very few moral reinforcements in society, it requires a great deal of personal honesty to identify the who and what of our desires. Satan cannot directly touch us. He has no physical presence to use to impose upon us. But he does have influence, he does have the power of suggestion. How does one guard against such active and intense manipulation? How do you protect yourself from the most experienced con artist?

Elder Perry’s talk title holds clues. One of my favorite verses from the Doctrine and Covenants speaks of how obedience is a source of protection and power:

“And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed bylaw is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.”

D&C 88:34

May we be mindful of the adversary’s continuous onslaught and find protection and staying power through obedience to God’s laws.

Trial and Experience Necessary for Salvation

President Brigham Young taught,

“All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered – to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. … Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.”

Quoted, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), 15.


Thoughts, Words, Deeds

I have an old recording of a Harold B. Lee address entitled “Do the Right Things for the Right Reasons”.  As his title suggests, he labors the point that more important than our actions, our motives are key to who we are and the purposes of this life. He makes the simple statement that stood out to me. He said, “Virtue isn’t chastity, it includes it.”

I found this doodle I had done a couple of years ago to illustrate the idea. I use the term ‘modesty’ with ‘say’ both in the context of what words we use as well as how we send messages through choices like the clothing we wear, the materials we surround ourselves with and so on.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall standin his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalms 24:3-4

Choices and Agency – James E. Faust

James E. Faust reminds us that we don’t always have to touch the burner to know if a stove is hot:

Learning by experience has value, but the “school of hardknocks” is deserving of its name. Progression comes faster and easier by learning from our parents, those who love us, and our teachers. We can also learn from the mistakes of others, observing the consequences of their wrong choices.”
Choices” James E. Faust, April 2004 General Conference