Puzzles

Talk for Feb. 16, 2020

When Brother MacBean asked me to speak he told me the theme was what blessings do you receive from keeping the commandments but that I could do some version thereof based on what revelation I got.

I saw Brother MacBean about a week later and he said the same thing to me.  I began to wonder.  First, I felt he was putting a lot of faith in that I would not come up with something totally crazy.  I have given rather unorthodox talks before.  But there must be something to the part about the version thereof, I thought. 

This is my version of the theme.  

I will start with a story that Elder Kimball told a long time ago:  A story is written by Roy H. Stetler, publisher of a religious journal in the East:

“It occurred outside the Crimean Castle of Livadia. The castle was aglow with lights. A soldier was pacing in carefully measured steps back and forth, guarding the castle, which, at the moment, housed within its walls a most momentous conference of world men. The soldier appeared proud of his task, for what soldier would not like to tell his children, and grandchildren, that he had once done guard duty for the momentous meeting of the ‘Big Three.’

“Suddenly, out of the darkness, like a phantom, a figure appeared on the path that led to the entrance of the castle. As the figure approached, the guard commanded, ‘Halt! Who goes there? Come hither and make yourself known!’ And with that the guard quickly took his gun from his shoulder and poised it for any emergency.

“The stranger spoke. ‘I wish to meet with the men who are in the castle.’

“‘Preposterous!’ exclaimed the guard. ‘You cannot enter the castle. Do you not know that the “Big Three” are meeting to decide the course of the whole world? No one is permitted to enter.’

The man replied, ‘You say it is the “Big Three”? Why are they called the “Big Three”?’

“‘They are they,’ said the guard, ‘who shall say how this world shall be ruled.’

“The stranger looked intensely at the guard. His eyes flashed as he said, ‘That is why I must be with them, because I can help them. I have a plan that will really work, and will keep the peace of the world, if they will only adopt my plan.’

“The soldier laughed. ‘Go on your way, man; you have no credentials.’

“The man replied, ‘Credentials? Perhaps not—here.’ And he raised his hand in salute as he left. The guard saw an ugly scar in his hand. Then he looked at the other hand, and it, too, had a scar.

“‘You were in battle?’ he asked, a little more gently. ‘I see wounds in your hands.’

“The stranger turned again. ‘No, I did not think you would notice,’ he replied. ‘No, I did not receive these wounds in battle.’ With that, he disappeared suddenly, as if the darkness had enveloped him.

“The guard looked after him, and marveled. ‘I should have known!’ he exclaimed. ‘If only I had let him in!’ And he slumped to the ground in dismay.”

This was he who brought blessings to all the inhabitants of the earth. This was he who spoke of those who would ask the stranger this question:4

“What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.” (D&C 45:51–52.)

It is important that not only do we keep the commandments but that we also recognize the blessings we receive from doing so.  Without recognition we can not bare praise to the one who gave us the blessings. 

I am going to share today blessings I have either witnessed or experienced. 

More than 20 years ago I got divorced and one of the things I realized was I did not like the person I had become.  I have a natural tendency towards pessimism but I had taken the negativity to a whole new level.  In my previous marriage when my husband and I would talk about our day I could only hold his attention if I told him all the bad and negative things in my day.  He never seemed to listen when I talked about the funny or cute stuff. So I focused on the negative. 

The first year after my divorce was spent healing as one should do after any event causing grief and mourning.  It was probably during that year I realized how negative I had been. The second year I decided to do something about my negative outlook by focusing on seeing how the Lord’s hand played a part in my life.  If I could recognize His hand in my life then maybe I could recognize the blessings. I knew I was somewhat successful when a year after that I was in a car accident with my three children.  

As I lay in the ER recovering with my son, David asleep on my legs, my second daughter walked in with a popsicle.  I commented to her that it was a good day to get a popsicle.  The nurse in the room commented that even though I had been in a car accident I was still positive.  Well, the blessings were good.  

My son was the youngest and received no hurt or pain because his car seat held him securely.  I even sent the seat to the company, at their request, for them to study.  

My daughter, Carolin was 5.  She was sitting in the front but had put her legs to the side and was looking at David in the back when the accident happened.  Her only injury was her face slapped the window.  She got the popsicle for laying through x-ray to see if she fractured it.  At exactly 72 hours the pain and swelling went away so no hairline fracture.  In addition, she was facing away from the actual crash so she was not traumatized by the accident by witnessing it.

My oldest daughter, Tedi, was 12. She received the most bruising of the three and I spent the most time reassuring her that it was going to be ok.  The seat under her moved away from the back of the seat by about 4-5 inches and while she did receive significant bruising along the seatbelt she was alive and no broken bones.  

I was laying in a bed because the doctor was waiting for me to crash – fall apart.  It became apparent to him after my comment of the popsicle I was not going to fall apart so they let us go. 

In addition to that the car would not have passed inspection so the accident saved me the cost of fixing it to get it to pass.  The insurance covered all our hospital bills and the amount we got for the car was almost exact to what I had paid for it a year prior so I had gotten to use a car for free for a year.

All these blessings came because I had worked hard at keeping the commandments and was trying hard to teach my children the gospel to the best of my ability, something I was slowing losing in my prior marriage.

After that yearly goal I have continued to see how the Lord has blessed my life and recently the Lord has been pointing out when others are blessed as well.  In last years stake conference I clearly heard the spirit say to me as President Nelson was speaking that something was his blessing.  I am still not sure why I heard that.  I throughly expect someone with such a calling of responsibility to be receiving blessings.

Another time I have been made aware of someone else’s blessing was in seeing the theme of the upcoming Elder’s quorum/RS party.  The person who received the idea of puzzles was truly blessed for that idea and in a minute you will see why I say that.

But more recently I saw the Lord’s hand again in my life.  During the snowstorm a week or so ago our car got stuck as Michael was trying to get out to go to work. I went out to help him but as I sat in the car neighbor upon neighbor stopped to help and in short order the car was out and Michael was on his way to work.  I asked the neighbors if they knew of someone who had a 4 wheeler that could plow.  They suggested Brother Newbury.  I called Brother Newbury.

I told him I was speaking about this and he knows I am sharing the story.  But when I talked with him on the phone he didn’t sound too confident.  What I didn’t know then but later learned he had plowed a few neighbor driveways that day and his 4 wheeler was stopping and he was having to recharge it or jump it to get it to work.  Brother Newbury said he would be there as soon as he could get it going.

I went outside with a shovel and started shoveling because the snow needed to be cleared so Michael could get back into the driveway when he got home.  It was our electric car and it would need to be charged so it could not sit on the street. I must admit that I didn’t have a lot of faith that his 4-wheeler would work either.  At my house I have been having for some time things not work from my kitchen sink slow flow, to hot water, washers overflowing, trucks not working, including my furnace and fish dying and so on.  It just made sense that Brother Newbury’s 4 wheeler would not work either.

But I had gotten one maybe two passes when Brother Newbury rolls right up on his four wheeler.  He helped me clear the driveway and sidewalks.  He shared that when he went out to start up the 4 wheeler he told the Lord if you want me to help her you need to help with the 4 wheeler.  He decided to try the key before attempting to jump and it started right up first try.  

I think this shows the blessings received by both me and Brother Newbury.

Because of all that is happening or mis-happening as the case may be in my life lately I take these words from that talk a little more to heart.

Elder Kimball, who became President, stated: “There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties.

There are so many beautiful promises. To read the scriptures and turn the pages, and it seems that it is almost all rewards, evidence of living the commandments of the Lord.”

To me one of the greatest blessings I can receive is the voice of the Lord sharing, caring and guiding me.  If I can remain poised and serene through the trials all the more the blessing.  

A Sunday or so ago we sang “How Firm a Foundation” as our closing hymn.  Verse 3 states; Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

Before singing the song following the testimonies my thoughts were “my life may be crazy right now but I am ok”. When we came to that verse I could not sing I felt as if the Lord was trying to tell me something and the message came in Sunday school as well.  When I got home I saw why the Lord was telling me He knew me and my life. 

You see in my life there have been times when I felt as insignificant as a grain of sand on a beach.  But that is not how the Lord sees us.  For I think it is more like a puzzle than a beach.

Have you ever been putting a puzzle together and one piece is missing, it might even be the last piece. What do you do?  You look for it.  You get up look in your lap, under your chair, under the table. Maybe you pick up the box on the table but it kind of bugs you that the piece is missing.

Here is the link to the puzzles I mentioned earlier.  You see we are the puzzle pieces and the Lord can see the whole puzzle – an over a billion piece puzzle.  Now you know why you can n12ever see the whole thing from the beginning.  In that puzzle we all link together and if one is missing or lost it is important to go looking for that piece.  

You can bet the Lord is looking.  When you find your missing piece, you examine it to make sure it is ok and then you ultimately put the piece into the puzzle.  

He – Heavenly Father and Jesus love you.  You are important to Him.  He will search for you and remind you that he loves you and he is there with you.  He will remind you with a song, starting a 4 wheeler or just wrap you in peace and comfort like a blanket.

Please forgive my personification but I envision Heavenly Father standing in heaven, possibly dancing from foot to foot anxiously waiting to bless us.  Hopefully we recognize those blessings when they come so we can be reminded how much he does love us – no Matter what.  

  • When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
    The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
    For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
    And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
    And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
  • 5. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
    My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
    The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
    Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
    Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
  • 6. E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
    My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
    And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
    Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
    Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

A New Day

This year has been a hard one for many people.  For me a lot was going on and then the pandemic hit.  As soon as I get up from one thing I get hit by the next wave.  So lately I have not really been wanting to get up.  Putting the one foot in front of another has gotten a little old and difficult.  Basically I want to sit down and say, “I’m done.”  “Can we stop the world and I get off now?”.

Well I am a spiritual person and it is often the Lord will interrupt my thoughts.  I used to talk to him all the time whenever I was alone – kind of keeping the prayer in the heart thing going.  I don’t do that as much because I know he is there.  I was thinking how tired I was and saying “I’m done” as I was driving home from taking my husband to work. This is the thought that came to me.

Many years ago when my oldest was 12 and the others were 5 and 1. We had some friends ask us to join them to go to Disneyland.  We would caravan and enjoy the park and other outings together.  Well, our car broke down and we didn’t get to go with them.  Since the money and the trip was planned I decided to go anyway on our own, after the car was fixed, just the three kids and me.  The trip was long and we did go to the park, camped out, visited family and started home.  We had one more place I wanted to go and that was the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  We left the family and headed out.  I was hoping to get there in time to get a campsite.  No such luck – we got there in time to find a spot in the grass for dinner.  My oldest was lamenting.  She had been a good sport most of the trip but it was getting to her now. All three kids got sick at one point with throwing up.  The trip was colder than we anticipated and she just wanted to get home.  She could not see what all the fuss was about – could we just go home?  I kept telling her it would be worth it – to just wait until we got there.  

When we arrived we got out and walked to the overlook.  The expressions from her mouth said she could see what the big deal was.  Wow, this is amazing. It was worth it.  

So when I was thinking I just want to be done I thought of this trip.  Now I am the daughter and I am saying can I just go home now?  But the thought in response was – Just wait, you will see.  It will all be worth it.

I have no idea what is to come but I do have enough faith to know that it will be worth it.