Archive for September, 2010
Imagine that you are going across a sea. You are crossing this sea in small boat. This boat is not a yacht nor is it a rowboat. It is comparable to a fishing boat. As you start to cross, the wind picks up, dark storm clouds appear on the horizon, a storm has come. The waves began to crash around you and are starting to flood the boat. Would you be a little scared? This did happen to a group of men. Their response was a desperate cry, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). The Master, was the Savior. He did awake and calm the storm. Theirs was a physical storm, but how often do we have storms in our life and cry out to the Savior “save us”.
There are so many storms that each of us face in our life. Many times those storms are not physical. They are very often referred to as trials. Each of us face trials. They may be small wind storms that consistently push us in a direction we do not particularly desire to go. They could also be large storms that threaten to drown us before the storm is over. Just like these men of old we can cry out to the Master and he will calm the storms in our life.
How does the Savior calm the storms of life? Each storm is dreadful in its own way. Each one can strike a chord of fear in each of us. The miraculous thing is that the Savior often calms the inner storm that is raging within us. Just like he said to the seas, he says to our souls, “Peace, be still”(Mark 4:39). The man who had power of the winds and the seas, has the power to calm our troubled hearts.
The reason why he has the power to speak peace to our hearts is because he has felt it. He has felt it every time that you have ached physically or felt the stabbing pain of sorrow. He knows what it feels like. And since he knows what it feels like, he knows exactly what kind of peace that you need.
When we cry out in anguish for the Savior to come and calm the storm he will. Then when the storm has passed we return in gratitude for offering the peace. He may not take the trials away, but he will offer us the peace and the strength necessary to reach “the blest harbor“, where we can rest from all the storms of life.
Caterpillars. They are fuzzy and have lots of legs. I am not the biggest fan of things that creep and crawl. In addition these fuzzy little creepers are not all that pretty. Overall, bugs in general give me the heebie-jeebies. Why on earth do we have caterpillars? They aren’t that pretty and they eat and destroy leaves.
We have these caterpillars and suddenly they disappear. It’s the end of the world for the caterpillar. When the caterpillar is gone, a beautiful butterfly emerges and takes its place. This butterfly doesn’t appear without a fight. It is wrapped tightly in cocoon while it undergoes the transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. After the transformation the butterfly breaks free of the cocoon.
We often see caterpillars in the world around us. They are what we would probably call homely. Then an event in their life causes them to retreat into themselves. These events can be anything. Whatever that event is, it causes them to draw into themselves. As they come out of their shell, they often have to fight to break free of the opinions of the world.
This process of fighting to get free doesn’t kill the butterfly, but makes the butterfly that much stronger. When they are finally free of the opinions of the world is when we see that they are a beautiful butterfly. The outward appearance may not have changed, but what is inside has dramatically changed. That person has become stronger, more confident, aware of their worth, aware that they are a butterfly.
It seems that we are always surrounded by beautiful butterflies, while we are homely caterpillars. We all will or have had an event in our life. It may be traumatic, but it helps us to see the butterfly that we are. As we emerge from this we then have the strength to overcome the opinions of the world. And see ourselves as the Master sees us.
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Of all the parables the Savior taught, the parable of the ten virgins has always bothered me. I always thought that the five who wouldn’t share their oil were selfish. Recently, it occurred to me that perhaps they wanted to share, but their oil was something that couldn’t be shared.
In the culture of the Savior’s time, a wedding was a huge occasion. The guests waited for the bridegroom to come attend the wedding feast. Along his path were the guests. He was able to identify them, since they would have their lamps lit and waiting for him. Those that were prepared would meet and follow him into the wedding feast.
This parable starts with ten virgins who are anxiously awaiting the bridegroom to go to the wedding feast. They all have their lamps and they are waiting (Matthew 25:1). Five were wise and brought oil for their lamps(Matthew 25:4).The other five were foolish and did not bring oil with them(Matthew 25:3). When the bridegroom came, the five who were wise had oil in their lamps and they were lit and were able to enter the wedding (Matthew 25:7-10). Those who didn’t have oil were left rushing to get oil for their lamps. Since they weren’t ready when the bridegroom passed by, they weren’t allowed into the wedding feast(Matthew 25:8-9, 11-12).
As with all parables this one has symbolism and can directly relate to our lives. We are all the virgins. Some of us are wise and some are foolish. Those who happen to be wise have been preparing for the bridegroom, or the Savior, for years to come. We have been collecting oil in our vessels. Every time we do a good work or follow the Savior we add oil to our vessel.
Then there are those of us who are foolish. We are experts are procrastinating. We continual put off helping some one else, or repenting of our sins. When such acts as this occur we are not adding oil, we are, drop by drop, taking it away. There is not a lot of time left to add oil. Whether it be when the Savior comes again or when we meet Him, we do not know when. We are to be prepared.
The question is: Are we continually adding to our vessel so we won’t have to say “give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out”? (Matthew 25:8)
Have you ever seen a piece of coal? It is ugly. A chunk of black, decayed wood, more or less. It is dusty and seems to be only good for burning. In addition to all this it releases an awful black smoke and just leaves behind a dirty mess. Have you ever known anyone like this? You look at them and you can tell that the world has taken a toll on them. Looking at these people, you would think what is their worth?
I can tell you from experience that coal is worth a lot. It not only provides heat when it is burned, but can become something amazing. Coal, when it is put under an enormous amount of pressure is changed. The change that happens is something of a miracle. It is taken from ugly, black, dusty to a beautiful, exquisite diamond. Now we can ask how does something like that happen? I am not sure on all the physics of the process, but having pressure and extreme heat is the key. Without the pressure and heat, the change would not occur.
Now, we take these people, who are bruised and tattered from the cares of this world. They have gone under enormous amounts of heat and pressure, otherwise known as trials. We see them when they are at their lowest, just before the miraculous change occurs. As the change occurs they start to rise above their trials and circumstance and become something, something of great worth. From the depths of despair they become something exquisite.
The coal no matter how hard it tries cannot become a diamond on its own, the potential is there. So with the help of a little pressure and little heat it becomes a diamond. We are all pieces of coal, we all have the potential to become diamonds, but we can’t do it on our own. A loving Heavenly Father allows a trial here, a trial there to occur. Without these trials we would never have enough heat or pressure to become a diamond. So he allows these trials to come into our life so we can reach our divine potential.
So the question is, are you reacting to your trials in a way that is going to allow you to become a diamond? We are not just pieces of coal, we are diamonds in the making.
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