It’s hard not to get swept up in the impatience of immediate gratification. The sentiments in the statement “I want patience and I want it now” seems to permeate much of what goes on now and throughout much of history. A mortal tendency is to think, “If I am going to venture forth I want to know the end from the beginning.” The desire is to short-circuit a journey and get all the knowledge, lessons, and wisdom gained from the journey without paying the price. No matter our desire, the journey must be walked.
A short time after we published our first book, I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better, we were speaking on a program with the bestselling author Stephen R. Covey. He had given us an endorsement for our book. As we chatted alone with him, I (Gary), with all the exuberance of a newly published author thanked him again, and playfully said, “I wish we were now where you are with your books.” With the kindness and wisdom of one who had walked the journey, he said, “Work hard. That’s what it takes.” Then he wished us success in our journey. I thought in my mind, “Rats, can’t you give us the shortcut path?”
During the journeys of life, it is often hard to remember and take comfort in the scriptures. It is easy to get caught up in the oppression of events and worries they generate and forget what the Savior said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) Or to take additional strength from His statement “My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee” (Abr. 2:8)
Learning from the past
While pondering this subject I ran onto some notes for a talk that jogged my memory of two stories that touched my understanding of the above scriptures. One was written by R. Lanier and JoAnn M. Britsch, entitled “A Prophet’s Warning,” and appeared in the New Era (Mar. 1976, p12, 14). The authors told of thirty faithful Tahitians, in July of 1959, who worked hard to save and sacrifice to finance their trip to the Hawaiian Temple. They had obtained permission from President David O. McKay, purchased a yacht, brought it into dry dock, refurbished it, and got it seaworthy.
Everything seemed ready. Then, an emergency meeting was called for all the participants by the mission president concerning a message sent directly from President David O. McKay. The message given was to stop the saints from going, stating that they would not make it. There was no other explanation given. The group all sustained the direction of the Prophet. The skipper of the yacht later launched the ship and anchored it in the harbor.
A couple days later, the harbormaster called the skipper to tell him the boat was sinking. When they investigated they found that a worker had painted over a rusty pipe and some rotten wood. If they had gone on the voyage, they would have been some 200 – 300 mile out to sea. “At the time when the Saints in Tahiti had accepted the counsel of the prophet, they could not understand President McKay’s reason for concern. But now they understood the ways of God.”
The second story was told by Elder Marion D. Hanks in a talk given at General Conference in 1975. In addition to the above scriptures, it brought to mind the pronouncement by King Benjamin, “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual…” (Mosiah 2:41).
Elder Hanks stated, “Some years ago a young lady missionary shared with me some of the circumstances of her call. Her humble father, a farmer, had willingly sacrificed much for the Lord and his kingdom. He was already sustaining two sons on missions when he talked with his daughter one day about her unexpressed desires to be a missionary and explained to her how the Lord had helped him to prepare to help her. He had gone to the fields to talk with the Lord, to tell him that he had no more material possessions to sell or sacrifice or to use as collateral for borrowing. He needed to know how he could help his daughter go on a mission.
The Lord, he said, told him to plant onions. He thought he had misunderstood. Onions would not likely grow in this climate, others were not growing onions, he had no experience growing onions. After wrestling with the Lord for a time, he was again told to plant onions. So he borrowed money, purchased seeds, planted and nurtured and prayed. The elements were tempered, the onion crop prospered. He sold the crop, paid his debts to the bank and the government and the Lord, and put the remainder in an account under her name—enough to supply her wants on a mission. She said, ‘Brother Hanks, I don’t have any trouble believing in a loving Heavenly Father who knows my needs and will help me according to his wisdom if I am humble enough. I have a father just like that.’” (“Trust in the Lord”, General Conference Apr 1975)
Guided by the scriptures
The scriptures come alive and we understand more what the Lord has for us as He stated in Doctrine & Covenants 78:17-19: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.”
Many yeas ago, we chose a favorite scripture that comes to our minds any time we are asked to recite a scripture. That is unless I want to give a quick short scripture and get groans from my wife and kids by quoting “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Our real choice is, Proverbs 3: 5 & 6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
As young newlyweds, we began early to gain a testimony of the Lord directing our path. We learned the blessing of tithing as we struggled financially to get established. At that time I was a BYU student and we had found only temporary poor paying jobs. We prayed hard and finally Joy got a job that paid a reasonable wage but we had a week before her first paycheck and we had no food except a case of under cooked tough pork and beans. We had faithfully paid our tithing on all we had earned. When we came home for lunch expecting to eat the pork and beans, we found in our screen door a bag of groceries. That night, someone knocked on our door and left a gunny sack of fresh produce. This provided us enough food to last us for the week.
At this time, Joy was teaching the Mia Maid class. One of her class members shared an experience to help us learn to follow the prompting of the spirit by responding without delay. The class member had been very ill and was confined to bed. One night as she lay there in bed the thought came to her, “Get out of bed now.” Her immediate reaction was disbelief. The thought came again more forcefully, “Get out of bed now.” She immediately got out of bed and when she reached the door of her bedroom the ceiling above her bed fell onto the bed. No matter the age the spirit will direct and we need to gain the faith to respond as this young woman did. “Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things” (D&C 85:6). We may not know the end of what the Spirit is telling us to do until we do it.
What we must do
Our responsibility is to develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to build our life with our trust in Him. This trust comes with the need to acknowledge the help we receive and to see how the scriptures are fulfilled in our life. For instance, we have read many times the scripture found in D&C 138: 11 that says, “As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened.” Many times our understanding of a problem we are facing is quickened and a new insight is given and the immediate reaction is to say, “Wow, look what I just thought of.” It becomes important to give credit where credit is due.
In relating the next experience, there are a number of scriptures that combine and come to life in this one incident. They are: “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly” (D & C 90: 24); “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror.” (D & C 10: 5); “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope.” (Moro. 10:20); the one quoted in the previous paragraph; and “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying. . . . Fear not; I will help thee” (Isa. 41:13).
Several years ago Joy teamed with Janice Kapp Perry to write a musical production titled “It’s A Miracle.” The four of us, Janice and Douglas Perry and Joy and Gary Lundberg, decided to take the production on the road not knowing from the beginning where this would take us or what experiences we would have. We could only afford well used transportation equipment which consisted of a 21-year-old truck with a 24 foot box having been used to haul auto engines from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, Arizona, and a 20-year-old former Trailways bus. We named the bus “Faith” and the truck “Works” saying that “faith and works proceeded the miracle.” Our little inside humor, but right on target.
One afternoon as we were returning to Utah from Arizona, we were stopped in a line of traffic due to construction 25 miles each direction from the nearest little town. With the engines off we waited for almost an hour. As I saw the traffic start to move, I radioed Doug to start the engines. After a moment he radioed that the truck would not start. He said, “I turn the key and nothing happens.” My heart sunk.
The cast on the bus heard the conversation and I knew they each would immediately say a prayer for help just as I did. I turned the bus engine off and grabbed the door handle to exit the bus. As I touched the door handle, the “eyes of my understanding were opened” and I knew what to do. I had Doug open the door to the truck where the floor of the cab was mid chest to me. I reached up under the dashboard into the mass of wires, not able to see anything. My hand was guided to one lone disconnected wire. Doug pulled out the ignition switch, I saw where the wire broke off the switch. I touched the wire to the spot, Doug turned the key, and the truck started. We reconnected the wire and we were back on the road in about 10 minutes. Looking back we can see how all those scriptures came alive in our life.
In our study of the New Testament this year, we read in Paul’s letter to the Romans; “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.” (Roman 5:1-4) It is that faith and hope that brings the miracles big and small in our lives.
Elder Richard G. Scott counseled: “Trust in God … no matter how challenging the circumstance. … Your peace of mind, your assurance of answers to vexing problems, your ultimate joy depend upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ” (“The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2003, 76, 78).
We end with the scriptures we quoted at the beginning: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.) “My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee” (Abr. 2:8) We state our witness again, “If we have faith in the beginning, the end will take care of itself.”