My Tribute to a Prophet of God

president-thomas-s-monson-lds-591264-printThe last Saturday in September of 2010 was not one of my finest moments. It was the night of the General Relief Society Meeting and I did not want to go. Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes. After all, my husband and daughter were going to play with our horses, and I had to put on a skirt and go to the stake center for a meeting? Ugh. Such was my attitude that day.

But, I went. And the address given by President Monson that evening is one I have cherished ever since. The talk was entitled, “Charity Never Faileth,” but the message I took away had little to do with that topic. Instead, I learned something incredibly reassuring about the worth of souls in the sight of our Heavenly Father.

My daughter has a chronic illness. You’d never know it to look at her, but there are a lot of things her body puts her through that just aren’t fair. As a mother, watching her struggle has been excruciating at times and is my biggest challenge. That evening I sat there in tears listening to President Monson as it seemed he told a story for the sole purpose of calming my troubled heart.

The story was about a woman named Mary Bartels. She rented rooms to patients of the hospital across the street from her home. One day a “truly awful-looking old man” came to the door needing a place to stay. He had been turned away from other homes because of his appearance, but Mary had compassion on him and set up a cot because her rooms were filled. The man continued to return to her home over the years, always bringing gifts for Mary and her family. Mary was blessed to get to know the man and learn what a beautiful soul he had. I now quote the rest of the story from President Monson’s telling:

After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, “I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.”

Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. “He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.” But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand!

I was moved that evening picturing my own especially beautiful soul living in a body that is far less than ideal. She, too, will one day stand tall in God’s garden. In the meantime, she is an example to me by making the best of every day and being happy in spite of circumstances outside her control. No matter the condition of her physical frame, she is growing something beautiful on the inside. The light of our Savior shines brightly through her and I am humbled and blessed that she was sent to our home.

FlowerThe metaphor of the golden chrysanthemum meant so much to me that I found a dented, old, rusty pail and with my daughter planted a beautiful flower. We listened to President Monson’s story and hopefully the meaning will stay with her as it stayed with me. I highly encourage you to listen to this talk and hear him tell the story in his own magnificent way.

Farewell, President Monson. I thought the best tribute I could give you was to share how much it meant to me when you calmed my troubled mother’s heart and gave me something I can reflect on time after time. You were truly a man of God and I will cherish you forever for giving me a new perspective and turning my sorrow into hope for a brighter day.

By Stephanie Gifford

Trials and Temptations

212501fa454d49c245249ef8d07963f6 Many times I have wondered why there needs to be so many trials and temptations in this life. Why would God give us so many temptations and yet expect us to be able to return to Him? As I have watched my children grow and witnessed the struggles they have to endure, I have wanted to murmur like Laman and Lemuel rather than be obedient like Nephi. It all seemed very confusing that God would want us to return to Him and yet would give us all these roadblocks we have to somehow maneuver around in order to return. Something just seemed so wrong with this picture.

To try and figure it all out, I first looked up trials in the scriptures. I mean, I know there are trials out there, we’ve all experienced them. This was the first one I found: “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.” (D&C 98:12) According to this scripture, the Lord definitely tries us to test and prove us. This made me think of Abraham and the Lord’s trying him to see if he would obey and sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham was given the choice; no one made him do it.

Another trial I thought was very interesting was the Children of Israel gathering Manna from heaven,

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. (Exodus 16:4)

This is also an example of a trial but this trial was actually very different from Abraham’s. Manna was a good thing; the children of Israel were being tried by something good. Yes, they were told to only gather a certain amount every day but it was nothing like being asked to sacrifice your child. Of course, these were former slaves who had never been taught what was right and wrong so God was probably beginning easy like we do with our children. Gather the right amount or it will just go bad anyway. It sounds more like a rule for children, doesn’t it? I’m sure there were people who thought it would be a lot easier to just gather it once a week or every other day; I mean, I can see why they would get tired of gathering it every day. But none the less, they were given the commandment as well as the punishment for breaking it. This is a great example of being tried by seemingly good things. Maybe wealth, power, and fame would fit in this category.

Adam and Even were also given a trial in the Garden of Eden,

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Moses 3:17)

This is the best example of how Heavenly Father tries us. He gives us options, commands us to follow one of those options, and then lets us choose. He made sure Adam knew the rules, He commanded him not to eat of the fruit of the tree, and even told him what the punishment would be. Adam didn’t accidentally break that commandment; he knew the rules and did it anyway. But also notice that it wasn’t God who tempted Adam (and Eve), it was Satan,

And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.
And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.) (Moses 4:6-7)

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