Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lord Chasens Those Whom He Loves

Hello, Friends and Visitors,

Normally I would be posting a weekly menu plan  with links for you today.  However, my heart is still full from a lesson we had at church yesterday.  So much so, that I've decided to share some of it with you here...

Yesterday, I was asked to read a quote for a lesson on the purpose of adversity in our lives.  As soon as I read this quote to myself, I knew that the Lord was speaking to me directly.  Following is the section that I was asked to read aloud to the class and a few of my own thoughts on the subject:

"God uses another form of chastening or correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us. President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:

'How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.'

President Brown replied, 'Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’

Years later, President Brown was a field officer in the Canadian Army serving in England. When a superior officer became a battle casualty, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, and he was summoned to London. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. The commanding general said in essence, “You deserve the appointment, but I cannot give it to you.” What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:

'I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall.

'And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …

“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”5

God knew what Hugh B. Brown was to become and what was needed for that to happen, and He redirected his course to prepare him for [future church leadership work].
                                                                     *     *     *
I don't believe that there is one person on this earth who will not have the experience of watching a dream or well laid plan fall completely apart.  This may involve a marriage, children, career, health or, as with Job, everything all at once.  These situations bring us to a crisis in faith where we may begin to ask how a loving God could allow these things to happen to us.  When we have only sought to do what is right, how could our actions be met with heartbreaking disappointments and crushing defeats?  Does He not love us?  Are we abandoned?  Does He not care how we feel?
I have asked myself all of these questions at one time or another.  I realize now that it was because I didn't fully understand a spiritual truth that is of extreme importance - that the Lord's Plan of Happiness (eternal happiness) for His children requires that we suffer in this life.  We are tried, tested, and chastened for the sole purpose that we may be humbled, shown our weaknesses, gain compassion and understanding and may come to fully rely on the Lord.  We don't have to beat ourselves up because we seem to lack desired blessings.  We aren't challenged because we are necessarily unworthy of the Lord's attention, it is because He seeks to build our character to be more like our Savior's and if Christ, being perfect, suffered in this life, how much more do we, being imperfect, require trials to school our souls?
It isn't easy to submit ourselves to the Lord's will in this life, especially when we don't have the answers to all of our questions.  Although some problems we face will eventually lead us to understand the greater purpose for those problems in our lives, others will never be completely understood while we are in mortality.  These unaswered questions can lead us to rely solely on the Lord and to trust that in the next life, enlightenment and understanding will go hand in hand with relief from our suffering.  A childlike trust in our Maker, while not bringing us all the answers we desire, can give us peace to endure.
Peace that surpasseth our understanding.
A true understanding of this principle has greatly eased many of my burdens that I have been asked to shoulder in this life.  While doing the best that I can with what I have, I no longer beat myself up or become angry at our Lord.  Instead, I ask for His help that I may progress in a way that is pleasing to Him, as I fulfill my responsibilities and seek to overcome my many weaknesses.
I pray for this same peace for you as you go forward along your path in life.
Have a wonderful day!


Gigi Jan said...

What a beautiful person you are! I love how you express yourself! This is a lovely blog. Love to you!
Thanks for sharing!

Beth at Aunties said...

Hi sweet friend,
This was beautifully written and I bet the spirit was strong during the lesson. This life is certainly a test if we can only endure our own trials...Won't the prize be incredible?
I listened to Elder Bednar address the YSA this morning during a CES fireside and then read your post. Both gave me great hope!
So many are suffering... yet there are always blessings attached and I can see the pruning of the gardener Himself.
Love to you and yours! ~♥

What I Did Today said...

Beautiful post. Love this. I think about this on a regular basis. Trials can be so difficult and heart wrenching, but I just pray that I will be given the strength I need to weather each storm and learn what I need to learn so I don't have to repeat tough lessons! Thank you for sharing this and your thoughts!

Alexandra said...

"We aren't challenged because we are necessarily unworthy of the Lord's attention, it is because He seeks to build our character to be more like our Savior's and if Christ, being perfect, suffered in this life, how much more do we, being imperfect, require trials to school our souls?"

Good one!We are here to perfect our souls. We are taught this in my church as well. It's a major focus - perfecting the soul.

Thanks! I miss reading reflections, and I post very few on my blog now. I've sort of lost my inspiration to write about faith lately.