Monday, November 5, 2012

The Opposite of Fear

(Previously: The Rock Waterman Audio Glut)

If you happened to follow the comment section following my last post, you will have read how several readers of this blog came together and discussed ways to rescue my lovely bride and me from a serious financial scrape. So today I want to about talk that. And I want to talk about love and faith. And I want to talk about gratitude.

This particular post might get a bit personal. And it may be way too long (aren't they all?) And it may not be of interest to everyone, because it requires some back story to explain how, after a lifetime of active membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I only recently came to understand a key part of this religion, and how learning to practice it absolutely changed my luck.

In my interview with Micah Nicholaison for A ThoughtFul Faith, I touched briefly on how a few years ago I finally obtained my personal baptism of fire. In that experience the love of God washed over me in a way I had never felt in my entire history as an active member of the church. It was a total baptism, a complete immersion into the bosom of God, where I was washed and wrapped and enveloped and embraced in a love so glorious as to be indescribable. That event transformed me in such a way that I came out of it not only knowing I was inherently good, but desiring, like the people in Mosiah 5 who had the same experience, to get out there and start doing nothing but good things continually.

And it is here that I wish to introduce my first digression; about this business of "being good." Up until that experience I had it all wrong. From the time we are quite young we are taught, warned, admonished, and threatened to "be good." What the grownups in our lives usually meant when they told us to be good was they wanted us to sit still and behave. And that is the understanding most of us acquired and carried into adulthood.

So we learn from a young age that "being good" means learning to restrain ourselves, to keep to ourselves, to make sure we aren't doing anything wrong, and above all, to do as we are told by those in authority.

As we get older we learn that as long as we are able to keep our hands to ourselves (and as teenagers to keep our hands off ourselves), we're being pretty good and will probably pass the yearly bishop's interview. As grownups we find that righteousness is measured by how faithfully we do the things we are taught we should, such as attending our meetings, paying our tithing, going to the temple, and fulfilling our callings. As long as we restrain ourselves from drinking the wrong beverages, wearing the wrong clothes, or watching movies with the wrong rating attached to them, we're probably headed in the right direction.

But these tokens on their own appear to me to represent a religion of self-absorption rather than one that is outwardly focused, as Christ would have us be. The question that often seems to motivate us is "how can I properly do my part to assure myself that I make it to the Celestial kingdom?"

This isn't the religion our scriptures teach us, but it has become the religion many of us come to embrace over time. We work hard at making sure we are doing all the things we "should" be doing. Even our service projects are assigned and coordinated and performed as group activities. When we help out after a natural disaster, or even just a community project, we are handed bright yellow T-shirts and tunics with a professionally designed logo that reads "Mormon Helping Hands" that were provided by the Church PR department in Salt Lake. Very little is done in secret anymore; it seems someone is always passing out a rollsheet so we always get credit for being where we should be.

In looking back on my life in the church, I realized that much of what motivated me toward righteousness had been spurred by the belief that I "should" be doing certain things. I attended church because I knew I should, I paid a full tithing because I knew I should, I went to the temple and participated in various ward service projects because I knew I should. I did all these things gladly and with a happy heart, knowing that I was pleasing God by fulfilling my callings. But I did them primarily because I understood that doing as I should was what I should be doing.

I have heard this predilection described as "should-ing all over ourselves." What it often amounts to is a lot of wasteful busy-work. God does not give or withhold his love based upon our doing what we think we should, and that ought not to be what motivates our actions. Can you imagine loving your children only when they do the things they should? God loves us regardless of what we do; he especially does not reward us for displays of outward appearances.

After my heart was transformed, I underwent a quickening in my understanding as well. Jesus' days on this earth were largely spent providing comfort and encouragement to his fellow man. And he performed these acts of love not because he felt he should, but because he really wanted to. If our goal in life is to emulate Christ, it makes sense that "being good" would mean doing good; to stand in for Jesus in our own meager way by performing little acts of Christian charity every time we have the chance.

In other words, emulating Christ has nothing to do with my childhood image of the serious, often dour looking Son of God often portrayed in paintings and bible films with a pious sanctimonious look. If I were to assume that posture I would not be emulating Christ, I would only be imitating a counterfeit. To emulate Christ is to act, to perform the kindnesses to others he would perform if he were here to perform them himself; to be doing, in our tiny way, those things Jesus himself would do if he passed by and saw someone hurting.

Suddenly, rather than serving others because I knew it was something I should be doing, I started serving others because I really, really wanted to. I began to seek out opportunities every day on the street rather than passively waiting for an assignment from a ward group leader.

F Is For The Faithless
I admit to being a slow learner. To put it another way, for most of my life I thought I understood certain concepts about the gospel, when now I realize I often didn't have a clue. Take this business about faith, for instance. Most of us think we've got it figured out. What does it actually mean to have faith, anyway?

Well, that's easy. Anyone who has served a mission can quote Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Nailed it. Faith simply means believing in something you can't see. Like believing in the existence of God, right? Too easy. Next question.

And yet...

In recent years I couldn't help thinking there may be something more to this business of faith than just simply the act of believing. In his book "Believing Christ," LDS theologian Stephen Robinson shows that though most latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ, few actually believe him. That is, we are willing to accept that he lives and who he is, but we are not as keen as we think we are when it comes to taking him at his word.

Yet in some respects even Robinson is only discussing one facet of faith. Our scriptures are so full of ceaseless homilies about faith that reading about it can actually get tiring. You gotta have faith this and faith that. The ancient prophets just wouldn't shut up about it. Faith, faith, faith.

Oh, and don't forget about faith.

Maybe the prophets were doing all this harping about faith because they wanted the people to understand something about it that they just weren't getting.

I find it interesting that Joseph Smith felt faith was not only important enough to list as the very first principle of the gospel, but that he also delivered seven separate, in-depth lectures on it in the Kirtland temple to a specially chosen group of men he dubbed The School of The Prophets.

Think about that. Seven separate lectures all centered around this one topic. What other concept did he give so much emphasis to? I can't think of one. To Mormonism's founder, this business of faith was not just an important teaching, it was the important teaching. To the prophet Joseph Smith, faith was the key to everything.

Joseph said faith was the first great governing principle of the universe. It was the force that has power, dominion, and authority over all things. He said that without it there is no power, and without power there could be no existence. Everything God himself accomplishes operates on this principle of faith, and without it nothing would exist, not even God himself.

Pretty heavy stuff. But decades ago when I first came across these Lectures on Faith, I still didn't understand much of it. What was so all-fired important about faith? And how did it work? Better question, why didn't it seem to work for me? I believed in God, but I certainly was never able to move a mountain.

As I re-read the Lectures on Faith recently, it became apparent that this thing, faith -whatever it is- may just be the key to unlocking all the Mysteries of the universe. At the very least it seemed to embody the path to happiness in this life. And true happiness seemed to be something I had not yet gotten the hang of. So I was game for further investigation.

There's an interesting historical footnote about those Lectures on Faith. They used to be included in the Doctrine and Covenants, but they aren't there any more. Joseph Smith considered the Lectures on Faith to be the actual "Doctrine" part of the Doctrine and Covenants. Which ought to make us wonder why such important teachings were so cavalierly cut out of the canon  a few decades after his untimely death.

Beginning in 1921, these doctrines, which our founding prophet considered of paramount importance, were simply left out of the book they were once a key part of. One reason given was "to avoid confusion." But I'm not buying it. I think it's just one more instance of how our religion has been gradually dumbed down by those who considered themselves the gatekeepers.

By the early twentieth century, LDS teachings regarding the attributes of God had evolved somewhat, and these modern ideas of who and what God is no longer perfectly jelled with what Joseph Smith had described in his lectures. What to do about these contradictions? Why, simply flush the teachings of the founding prophet from the canon.

Problem solved. You know what they say about dead prophets. You just can't trust 'em.

The Lectures on Faith are still floating around out there, available to anyone who cares to look for them. But not many members of the Church today have read those lectures and fewer still have any idea what they are about.

That included me. And even after I did read the lectures, I still wasn't quite getting it. Like I said, I'm a slow learner. But one of the ways I have come to understand a difficult concept is by examining its opposite. (As I wrote earlier, one way of understanding the meaning of The Law of the Land is by looking to its opposite, The Law of the Sea.)

So what is the opposite of faith? It isn't unbelief, as we might first suppose. It isn't doubt, either. Doubt is healthy. In fact, sincere doubt can lead to a strong, healthy faith. No, the opposite of faith is not unbelief or doubt. The opposite of faith is fear.

Yes, fear. Not the first word that would occur to most of us. Let me illustrate with a discussion of the opposite of love.

Most people think the opposite of love is hate. But it isn't. The opposite of love is indifference.

Think of the last time you saw a ragged homeless person on the corner holding a cardboard sign asking for help. Chances are pretty good you drove right past, not stopping to roll down your window to hand him a couple of bucks. Is it because you hate him? No, of course you don't hate him. You might even feel a little sorry for him. Just not sorry enough to reach out and help.

Even if you were disposed to help, maybe traffic is moving too fast, it isn't convenient to reach into your wallet or purse, traffic behind you wants you to keep moving, or the guy is simply on the wrong side of the street. Anyway, no need to worry about it. Surely someone else will come along and give him a handout. Besides, there's always the possibility that if you did give him money he might just spend it on drugs or booze, and then you would be guilty of some kind of sin or something for enabling him.

And a moment later, you've turned the corner and he's gone from your mind.

That's indifference.  And so through indifference we fail the test of love. We might feel bad for that guy's plight, but feeling sorry for him didn't buy him lunch. Feeling sorry for someone is not an act of love. It's a dismissal.

If you were to ask someone who knew me if I was a good man, they would probably tell you sure, Rock Waterman is a very good man. But unless I am actively doing good things for others, I'm not really being good. All I'm doing is behaving myself. Which I'll admit, for me is still something.

But it isn't enough. When we read the gospels we don't admire Jesus because he managed to behave himself. If we're going to be like Jesus we're going to have to be like Jesus. And that means performing daily acts of kindness.

Like most people driving along in their cars passing homeless people on the street, I used to be indifferent, though I would hardly have thought so. But even if it was convenient for me to help a fellow out with a few bucks, there was another factor keeping me from being generous with my substance, and this was what was constantly keeping me from practicing my faith. You guessed it. It was fear.

No, I've never been afraid of homeless people. What I was afraid of was what might become of me if I let go of too much of my money.

I remember years ago reading an interview with Pearl Bailey, who said: "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better."

That quote pretty much describes my life. There have been times in my past when I was doing quite well, times I thought would continue forever. But they didn't. Due to health and other issues, for almost the past two decades my family has barely scraped by. So during those times of hardship, by and large I felt I was exempt from helping others. I would have been able to help folks out if I still had lots of money of course, but I'm not, so that's that.

I figured I loved my fellow man and everything, but I was going to have to leave it to someone else for the time being to do the giving. What's that saying- "The Lord helps those who help themselves"? Well, ten or fifteen years ago our situation changed for the worse and it was all I could do to help myself and my family stay above water. Sorry, needy people.  If the Lord helps those who help themselves, then I'd better just concentrate on helping myself and let someone else take care of you.

Besides, it wasn't as if I turned anyone down. If a beggar came up to me in a parking lot and asked for change, I might give him a quarter -if I had one. If all I had in my pocket was a few dollar bills, the poor guy was out of luck. After all, he did ask if I had any change, didn't he? Dollar bills aren't change.

Yeah, I was that stingy.

But the way I looked at things, tithing was already taking a whopping ten percent of my gross right off the top, and there was also the monthly fast offering that took another chunk of cash from my pocket. So I figured I was already doing my part as far as charitable giving was concerned. I gave at the office. Stop bothering me.

What I didn't realize back then was that I was being kept in poverty precisely because I was afraid of being in poverty.  I felt we couldn't afford to give because we barely had enough for ourselves, saddled with medical problems as we were and scarcely scraping by. What I didn't understand was that this fear that kept me from thinking beyond my own myopic problems was directly related to my continuing struggles. Instead of attracting blessings, I was calling forth continued poverty. This constant fear and worry about how I was going to get by if I gave my last dollar to someone in need was the very thing keeping me down, because it was barring me from properly practicing God's religion of love.

Anyway, I wondered, where was God in all this? Isn't he supposed to bless us when we pay our tithing? So where were these blessings? Why was life a constant struggle when I was doing everything I knew I should?

Well, my life was a constant struggle because of fear. That's why. What I didn't know was that my own fear was blocking God's efforts at showering blessings upon me. It was not that he didn't want to. It was that I was blocking those blessings at every turn. By allowing fear to limit me in performing little acts of love toward my fellow men, I was holding back my faith in His ability to bless me. When fear is present, faith becomes inoperable. It just can't work.

Joseph taught that God himself operates on faith. Can you imagine a god who is afraid? He wouldn't be able to accomplish a thing.

God operates according to eternal laws which he himself is subject to. You've heard this saying that "obedience is the first law of heaven"? The "law" of heaven is not just something God arbitrarily decreed, it is a set of realities He himself must work within in order to accomplish His work. In D&C 130:20-21, we are given this hint as to how the universe operates.

The law of free agency allows me to be as disobedient as I want to be regarding the Great Law -the one that commands me to love my neighbor as myself- and God will not love me any less. But the downside of it is that I can not expect to receive the blessings God wants me to have because I am not in harmony with the law of love. No matter how much God loves me and wants the best for me, his hands are tied as long as I refuse to act with charity toward others.

God could look down on me from heaven and say, "you know, I really like that guy. I understand why fear is hampering his ability to love; he can't help it. So I'm going to go ahead and bless him anyway by sending some extra money his way." If God were to do that, then HE would be disobedient to the law of heaven. And as Alma explains to his son in Alma 42, God himself must be obedient to the laws of the universe, or he would cease to be God. And I don't think any of us want to see that happen.

What I didn't understand during all those years of struggle was that God actually wanted to come to my rescue. He is on my side. But the laws of the universe could not work as long as I did not have faith that they could. Didn't Jesus tell us to "pray always, and be believing, and all things will work together for your good"? So why weren't all things working together for my good? Because I did not believe that I held the key to delivering myself out of my own poverty. I was afraid. I was fearful that if I were to truly practice my religion by loving my brother enough to lighten his yoke a little, that I might put my own family and my own survival in jeopardy. The Lord does help those who help themselves. But the best way we can help ourselves is by waking up and shaking off our fear.

Sacrificing Is For Suckers
As you can probably guess, allowing fear and worry to rule my life kept me and Connie barely squeaking by. Then came the mighty change. Suddenly, when I saw a needy person on the street, I didn't worry about whether I had enough money for myself; I only thought about whether I had enough for him. While it's true I am not able to actually solve anyone's problems, I am able to offer someone enough to eat. That's at least something, so that's what I do. I never give less than five dollars, so he can at least get himself a meal at Jack-in-the-Box.

If I had intended that money for something else, oh well. I don't worry about it. I take very seriously the Lord's admonition to treat others at least as kindly as we would treat Him if we happened to see him on the street: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I have a rule nowadays. If I can't stop and help someone because I'm in the wrong lane, I always take the time to drive up the street and come back around. If necessary I'll park the car  nearby and walk over to the sidewalk and hand the person the money. Where I used to cringe when I saw someone like this approach me, now I seek them out. I never pass up the opportunity to help. Never. And I'll tell you why.

I broke this rule once. I was on my way to church one Sunday morning and saw a woman standing on the traffic island on the opposite side holding a cardboard sign. Normally I would have pulled a U-turn, got into the far left lane, and come back to her. But I was now already five minutes late for church, and several more minutes from getting there, so I just kept going. I arrived at church just in time for the sacrament song, hurriedly found a seat, caught my breath, and...I just felt awful.

Here I had been hurrying to get to church so I would be where I should be, and I had just blown off  the opportunity to provide a bit of assistance to one of God's gentle daughters. The apostle Paul admonished us to "be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

I have no idea whether that woman was an angel or not. Most likely she was just some miserable, discouraged soul who could have used a little cash and some words of encouragement, and I hadn't even attempted to provide it.

I have sat in church countless times bored out of my skull and wishing I was somewhere else, but this was the first time I sat there and felt God wanted me somewhere else.

That's why I have never passed up a needy person since, no matter what.

I don't keep track of how much I give; that would be worrying about it. Worry leads to fear, and I don't want any good thing that might be on its way to me to get deflected. Since loving my neighbor is as important as loving myself, Giving to my brother or sister is no different in my mind from giving money to myself. So how could that hurt?

This new program I have of handing out money left and right has not been a strain on our finances because it isn't a sacrifice. Why? Because I'm not sacrificing anything. It isn't a sacrifice to give a brother or sister five or ten bucks. It's a service.

But isn't sacrifice and service the same? No, I don't think so. Sacrificing hurts. It's difficult, it's often painful, and it requires thought beforehand. "Should I really be doing this? Will it be worth it? Is this wise? Can I afford it?"

Service, on the other hand, brings joy. It isn't supposed to hurt. It is an act of kindness.
Service doesn't make us poorer, it makes us richer.

I think this is the reason the law of tithing is such a simple law to comply with. Oh, we can make it difficult if we want to. If you believe the Lord requires ten percent of all you have every month, I can certainly see why you might see that as a sacrifice.

But the commonly held idea that the Lord requires ten percent of our gross is one of those beliefs prevalent in the Modern LDS Church that is not supported by God's word. Because this belief is so widespread, it's often a struggle to pay a "full" tithe, so quite a few saints have given up and don't pay any tithing at all. Which I think is a shame. God does not ask us for ten percent of our all, He only asks for ten percent of our increase, which is the mere tiniest portion of all he has blessed us with. I don't think God wants our tithe to be a sacrifice, he wants us to think of it as service.

If you are paying so much to the Church every month you're feeling the pinch, you may want to reassess your understanding of the law. Or your motivation for giving.

How Much Tithing Is Enough? 
Suppose Abraham has a thousand sheep, and out of those thousand sheep a hundred lambs are born. Those hundred lambs represent Abraham's increase for the year. So Abraham offers Melchizedek ten of those lambs as his tithing. He does not give ten percent of his entire flock; only on that small number of sheep that increased his flock. God intended tithing to be this simple because he wants even the poorest among us to have the blessing of helping each other out, even if only a tiny bit.

When we use the scriptures as our guide instead of rumor and hearsay, we find that we are expected to tithe on our surplus, which is the money we have left over after we have provided for our family's needs. Of course, you can always give more, since in reality everything we have belongs to the Lord, but God makes it easy for us by only requiring ten percent of our interest, which, according to both dictionary definitions and D&C 119, means increase or surplus.

Who can't comply with that?

(For a thorough analysis of what and how much tithing is supposed to be, and how in recent years some in the Church have distorted its meaning, see here.)

Remember the story of the Widow in the synoptic gospels? Although this woman was dirt poor, even she was able to put something into the poor box in order to help those she considered even less well off than she. (The two mites she placed into the poor box represented about the cost of a loaf of bread in those days). I assume Jesus did not let such generosity go unrewarded.

He certainly doesn't let me go unrewarded, which brings me finally to my point. Ever since I started assisting those less fortunate than me without thought of fear or worry, we have always had sufficient to get by on. I would love to tell you that my newfound generosity has made us rich, but that hasn't been the case. What has happened, however, is that one way or another we always make it through the month, and we usually make it without sweating.

Besides, what we do is nothing. I met a couple in Provo who are both doctors. They live frugally and buy most of their clothes at D.I. so they can consecrate the bulk of their earnings to those less fortunate.  I've never met people like that before or since, but they certainly fit the description of "Christlike."

The really interesting thing is, ever since Connie and I let go of fear, we have given much more than ten percent of our surplus; indeed, some months we clearly give away much more than ten percent of our gross, but we still don't feel the pinch. I can't really tell you why. It just works out.

Which brings me to my second digression. I will tell you of the first thing that happened after Connie and I threw caution to the winds and let go of our fears about how we ourselves would get by, and stopped pinching pennies when it came to the poor.

Halfway through a certain month, we found ourselves close to broke. Maybe we had been a bit too generous, a bit incautious. Should we have put the brakes on our giving? Maybe. But that month someone we knew had been in desperate need of three hundred dollars, so we had forked it over without a second thought. But now we were definitely hurting, no doubt about it.

Next thing we knew, we got a check in the mail for $500.00. It was completely unexpected, and from someone I hadn't even thought about for years. I don't even know how he found me.

This check arrived from one of my old missionary companions, Terry Myler, and his wife Julie. I'm naming names here because the Mylers provide a unique service to people who own motorcycles, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles, so if you or anyone you know is involved with motorbikes, the Mylers deserve your business. Anyway, here's the story as I learned it later:

Some years back Terry had an unfortunate accident. Broke both his legs or something, I don't remember exactly. Whatever it was, the upshot was he lost his job. Terry found himself wasting away on the living room sofa feeling sorry for himself as the family's finances dwindled day by day. One day a friend crashed his dirt bike during a weekend outing, and the radiator was hopelessly smashed. It turns out that getting in wrecks is a fairly common occurrence among dirt bikers, and when this happens, the radiator, which is made of aluminum and openly exposed, often takes the brunt of it.

Well, Terry took his friend's radiator out to the garage and found he was able clean it out and bend it back into shape using some of his welding equipment and makeshift tools. In fact, he found he was able to repair any smashed radiator, and he had a knack for fixing them in record time. He also learned no one else in the country was offering this service, because usually when a rider smashed his bike, they knew that meant buying an entirely new radiator to the tune of a couple of hundred dollars. Terry figured he could repair those things for about 60 bucks each.

So he took out a tiny ad in a dirt bike magazine and soon folks from all over America were shipping their radiators to him, which he would repair and ship right back in time for them to wreck their bikes all over again the next weekend. Myler's Radiators is now a thriving family business based in West Jordan, Utah. I've been to his operation, and saw a radiator that looked like a french horn run over by a truck. It was no problem for Terry Myler to put it back like new.

Anyway, I had not heard from Terry in maybe twenty years, and of course had never met Julie. Long story short, they had been experiencing quite a bit of success with this new radiator business and wanted to share their blessings with someone in need. They prayed about it, tracked me down to get my address, and sent us that check with a nice card explaining why.

So almost immediately after we shed our fears about giving to others, we saw how quickly God was able to deliver us from difficulty. Now I ask you, where was my sacrifice that month when we gave those people that $300.00? We gave without fear or worry, and the Lord provided us more in return than we had given. That doesn't sound like a sacrifice to me.

The key was our faith. We refused to worry about how we would be taken care of as long as we were motivated by love to help others. We simply had faith that things would work out. "Pray always, and be believing, and all things will work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly." That is quite a promise. Be believing. That means to have faith that good things will happen for you.

If ye walk uprightly. I take that qualifier to mean that we ought not let fear and worry weigh us down and stoop our backs. Connie and I have experienced the vicissitudes of life just like everybody else, but we have to admit that by and large, all things have been working together for our good. We have our trials, but we are not discouraged.

Which brings me to the point of all this. The amazing miracle that occurred for us last month.

Our October Surprise
Near the end of September, I was driving Connie to an important medical appointment when the car overheated and violently quit on the freeway far from home. Well, that was the end of that. I had the car towed to a nearby garage where I was given the news I expected. This car's engine had reached the end of its long life. The car was finished. Rest in peace, my beloved auto.

This car, a big, well-cared for twenty year old Crown Victoria, was an exceptional buy five years previously, when it fell into our laps for a mere $1600.00 at a time when the car we owned before it had breathed its last.

At the time, Connie and I happened to have a thousand dollars available, so I financed the remaining 600 over the next six months. The car had over 150,000 miles on it, but it served us well those five years, never needing any repairs. Still, we knew it was only a matter of time, and when it died, it was l almost a relief. After all, I had just taken it in for its biannual smog check and it had failed. I was in the process of doing all manner of tuneups and tweaking in hopes it would pass smog the second time, but it didn't seem likely. So when the car died and left us stranded on the freeway, I just shrugged. I took it as the answer to whether I should continue to pour more time and money into it. This wasn't the best timing, because we had somewhere to go and we were sixty miles from home, but it was an answer nontheless. I rented a car to get us to Connie's appointment then home, and there things stood.

Now, a few years ago I would have absolutely freaked out. After all, we had no money even to fix up this car; how in the heck would we be able to afford buy another? I knew what an amazing miracle it had been back when we found this car at the price we paid. But now, even if I had that kind of money, who in the world would sell me a decent car for anywhere near 1600  bucks? We had absolutely no hope, no money, and no options.

But these were not the kinds of thoughts going through my head this time. I understood we had a problem, of course, but I didn't think it was anything that was beyond God's ability to solve. I said to Connie, "I'm really interested in finding out how God is going to get us out of this one." And I meant it. I was very curious. I had every expectation that God would somehow provide us with a way to pay for a car, even though I didn't have the slightest clue how it could happen.

If I've learned one thing, it's that it is impossible to second-guess God's strategy. Every time he has pulled our feet from the fire, it has been in some unexpected way, like with the Myler check. Rescue has never come in any way I could have imagined.

I did have an idea that I might be able to get a small car loan through my credit union. Though I don't have any savings there, this credit union is where we keep our checking account, so I figured they would lend me one or two thousand dollars for a clunker, and life could go on.

But I got some disconcerting news. No bank or credit union will loan on a salvage car, and that was the kind of cheap wheels I was looking for. They might loan me enough to buy something for seven or eight thousand dollars, but that's more money than I could possibly afford to repay. So now I really wondered how God was going to pull this off. But I didn't lose faith.

Besides, I didn't have time to even look for a car just then. My immediate concern was that we had to get Connie sixty miles up the mountain again to Placerville the very next week for an important surgery, and how were we going to find someone to loan us a car to do that? After years of being virtual hermits, we don't really know anyone around here we could even ask.

But the very next day I got an email from someone in my own neighborhood who offered the use of his car. I didn't know this guy, but he had heard of our plight from someone else I had emailed the day before, and this other guy put out the word. I took that as a sign that everything else was going to work out, too.

The following week, Connie had her surgery, and at the end of the day, after I got her home and safely into bed, I sat down at the computer to look for cars on Craigslist. It was a bit discouraging, as anything even comparable to my old car was unavailable for less than $2500.00, and by this time I really didn't have any idea how I would pay for any car even if I did find one. But I decided to let God worry about that. Connie didn't have another medical appointment for a couple of weeks anyway, and I could use my bike to go out for groceries and whatnot. So there was plenty of time for God to work his magic. I would do my part by looking for a car, and leave it to God and his angels to show me how I was going to pay for it.

Here's the thing. We talk of the blessings we receive when we do right by others, and I have come to truly believe in those promises. I have also learned that the quickest way to block those blessings from getting through is to allow myself to be overtaken by the fear that maybe this time it might not work.

That's why we hear about discouragement being one of Satan's favorite tools. If we call forth fear, the good stuff can't get through. Our own fear prevents it. Then as gloom and darkness overtake us, we cease to be vessels that God can work through to serve others. And that's how Satan wins. He doesn't have to turn us to evil. He only has to neutralize us.

In the past, it would have been very easy for me to regret giving away some of the money we had, especially when we have an urgent need ourselves. We have known a certain regular middle class couple for many years  -I'll call them Tom and Jeri- who have recently fallen on hard times like so many others these days. Tom and Jeri have three young children.Tom was working in construction and doing quite well, but as that industry fell off, he lost his job. They had more and more trouble coming up with the rent on their apartment until finally they were evicted. They bounced around a bit with friends, so fortunately they have always had some shelter, however temporary. Since the beginning of last summer they have been living in the garage of a another couple they know. It hasn't been pleasant living in a garage during the summer heat, but at least it's shelter and they're grateful to have it. Tom and Jeri are receiving a few hundred a month in government aid, of which they give half as rent to the people they are living with.

As you can imagine, what remains doesn't stretch very far, so Connie and I end up giving them what we can now and then so they are able to afford gas, diapers, and so on. They get a bit in food stamps, but even that doesn't reach to the end of the month, so I often raid my own cupboards and take it over to them, along with a little more cash.

Tom and Jeri and their little family have become something of a project of ours. I often take the kids out for treats and to the park so they can have a little play time away from the garage. Sometimes I bring them over to our place where they'll sit on the bed and watch a movie with Connie. We can't do as much as we want to for this family, but we do what we can. Tom started doing a bit of tiling work for a man who owned some empty homes he was fixing to rent out, but one night someone broke into a house he was working on and stole all the tools he had left there, and that was the end of that pot of gold.

All in all, this family is a hard luck case. But at least they still had their car. Near the end of September I was visiting Jeri in their garage apartment and saw on her mail pile a final notice that her car would be impounded because her registration was months past due. To her credit, Jeri never asks me for anything because she understands life is a struggle for us, too; when desperate, she will hit up all of her other friends before she'll talk to me about her problems, so I always have to seek her out to see how I can help.  When I asked her what she hoped to do about this problem with her car registration, she shrugged in weary resignation and said "what can I do? They just keep piling up." Penalties had already reached $157.00, and she knew one day they would just take her car away. But she didn't see how there was anything she could do about it. There had been other urgent priorities draining her meager funds. Her life had become one thing like this after another.

I didn't think there was much I could do to help in this case, as that was a chunk of money I didn't have either, but I took the letter with me to the DMV where I negotiated the penalties down to the original $82.00, then went ahead and paid that. But the car still had to be smogged. So I spent another $60.00 for a smog test, which failed just like mine had. Happily, Tom can fix cars, so I bought the needed parts for him.  I saw that the fuel gauge was on empty, so I went to the gas station to put ten dollars in. when I got there, I thought what the hell, and filled it up. By now I'm into this car almost two hundred dollars, in addition to the money I had already come up with for them recently. It was not really money I could spare at the time. And it was the very next day that my own car blew its head gasket.

So here's what I'm getting at: When my own car blew, I could have felt some immediate regrets for having spent so much of my money on what others might have considered a lost cause when I'm clearly going to need every cent I can get my hands on to address my own problems. In fact, that is exactly the way I might have felt before I learned to have faith. But those kinds of thoughts never entered my mind this time, and let me tell you what happened next.

My old Crown Vic was absolutely worthless. It had no trade-in value. The repair shop it was sitting at wanted it gone, so I called a junkyard to see if they would be willing to drive all the way up to Placerville and tow it away without charging me anything.  When I signed over the papers to them for my hunk of junk, they gave me a check for $200.00! That more than covered the amount I had just spent to get Tom and Jeri's car on the road, with a little left over. The way I see it, I made a few dollar's profit, and most importantly, Connie and I had enough money again to make it through the next couple of weeks.

So I ask again: how much did we sacrifice? Nothing. No matter how much we  supposedly "sacrifice", we seem to keep getting back more than we ever put in.

But I digress. I was about to tell you about the October miracle, where we got showered with blessings in a way we have never experienced before in our life.

After putting Connie into bed the evening of her surgery, and tiring of searching Craigslist looking for a car I had no money to buy, I wandered over to my own blog to see if there were any comments on my recent post. At the end of my September entry I had mentioned in a postscript that Connie was about to undergo a hopeful surgery, and asked that prayers be sent for her. I also mentioned in passing how we had just lost our car on the way to the pre-surgery appointment.

Well, unbeknownst to me, the very day Connie was in surgery, a vigorous discussion was taking place among my readers which included a proposal that they send us money to help in the purchase of a car!

 I was stunned.

But I'm not an idiot. I instantly recognized this as the way the Lord had chosen to assist us, by inspiring virtual strangers to lend us a hand. I immediately wrote in and gratefully accepted these offers of aid. Within the next three or four days donations poured in, and though the story is too long to relate, the Lord led us to a perfect car with incredibly low mileage in great condition for a ridiculously low price which these donations covered with four dollars left over, and now we are well situated.

As I sat at my desk looking at the contributions adding up before me, I had to stop for a minute as I sat with my head in my hands and just wept uncontrollably. I was so moved by this expression of love that I cannot begin to describe my feelings of gratitude. I was completely overwhelmed. This flood of love was totally unexpected. Yet it was also confirmation that when we have real faith, our needs will be provided for. As the prophet Daniel said, God is able to deliver.

I am a living witness to how faith creates miracles. I have personally written and thanked everyone who contributed to us, with the exception of three anonymous donors whose cash and money orders arrived in envelopes with no names or return addresses. To you three, if you're reading this, I say a heartfelt THANK YOU, and may God bless you as I know he is blessing all the others who assisted us in our time of need.

Something I Want You To Know
This post has been a particularly difficult one to write. Every time I look it over, I'm concerned that those reading it will think I'm either boasting or that I am a pushover. I have had several false starts, and even deleted entire sections that I realize were redundant or irrelevant to the point I'm trying to make.

So here's the thing:

I believe this country -the entire world, in fact- is heading irrevocably for some very difficult times. As I write this we are two days away from the presidential election, where folks are frantically arguing about how their candidate will save us while the other will make things worse. Well, here's the bad news. Neither candidate is going to be able to stop this juggernaut. Things can't help but get worse no matter who is in office. At some point in our future -and it's impossible to say when- things are likely to get very bad, and we all may end up in the soup. All we can do is prepare as best we can and then try to get though it. Together.

You may have noticed that what we call "the homeless demographic" has changed in recent years. Where it was once largely made up of the type of people uncharitably referred to as "bums," today many of the destitute are regular people like you and me who have fallen on hard times.  There are lots and lots of these people.  The problem may not yet be as noticeable as it could be, as not all of those who are struggling are yet on the street, though a growing number are ending up there.

In this essay, I told of some assistance I gave to people on the street. But I don't have to look past my  doorway to find folks in need. In the apartment complex I live in, the neighbors on both sides of me have recently taken in friends and relatives -in another case an entire second family- who sleep on the floors of their living rooms.  This doubling up is happening all over the city; it is a phenomenon recently covered in a feature story in our local paper. There is no longer anything unusual about learning of someone living in someone else's garage as is the case with my friends Tom and Jeri. It's becoming the new normal. Untold numbers of people who once had a normal, middle class existence are now finding their lives turned upside down. And I think we're seeing only the beginning.

No president is going to have the power to alleviate the suffering that is bearing down on us. The government won't save us. We must all save each other as we would save ourselves. It will be up to us as individuals to lend each other a hand in any way we can.  If we don't come to understand right now the importance of brotherly love and charity, as things get progressively worse we ourselves could be in danger of succumbing to selfishness and pettiness and lose our souls in the process.

I don't think any of us will be unaffected by the hard times that are coming, but the Lord can get us out of any real scrape if we have FAITH and believe on his words. Along with faith, we must have hope, but most important of all is that we demonstrate pure charity toward those brothers and sisters who are now already losing hope. Many of these troubled people may be living right next door to you. Get to know them.

I don't think this great blessing that just happened for me and Connie could have occurred at all if not for two things. First, it was necessary these past years for me to have the faith that enabled me to obey the great commandment to love my neighbor. I believe God's generosity toward us is directly connected with our willingness to show compassion to his other children. If we worry about whether we can afford to help others, or freak out about our own problems, we are not going to be able to assist others with a pure heart.

When we see a brother or sister in need, we must be concerned first for their welfare and not for our own. It isn't always easy to do, but when we are outwardly focused instead of inwardly fearful, that's when the magic takes place. You are not in this alone; when you move forward in faith, numerous invisible presences on the other side will join in to assist and magnify your efforts.

Secondly, when we give, we must give without anticipating a future reward. If rewards are forthcoming, they will come unbidden. In the old days, one of the things I used to say to my kids when they didn't want to pay their tithing was "do it for the blessings." But my kids noticed that somehow those blessings rarely came. I was teaching them the wrong lesson.

That's because giving in hopes of getting something in return does not represent a pure expression of love. You have to get to the place in your heart where you truly want to alleviate the suffering of others without expecting any benefit for yourself. For me, that burning desire to really want to do good things arrived in my heart following my baptism of fire. That is when I became born again in Christ and developed what some call a Christ consciousness; a mindset that puts one in harmony with the desires of the Lord.

I don't have any of the abilities of the Christ. I don't have his power. I cannot help the lame man walk or the blind man see. I can't put a family in a house or even feed them for a week. But I can, in my small, humble, tiny little way, be just a little bit like Him. I can always perform some small act of kindness to one person at a time. I can't do a lot, but I can always do something. All of us can.

To those of you who came to the rescue of Connie and me in our time of need, I say thank you. We consider the money you sent us to be sacred. We know that for some of you, contributing directly in this way is how you chose to tithe, and we graciously accept that offering. We consider it all to be consecrated funds sent for a righteous purpose. We honor you for your service to us, and we send our gratitude up to heaven for inspiring you to perform this act of love. Every time I walk up to that car, I am reminded of what wonderful friends I have, every one of whom I have never even met. This is an act of love and compassion that we will remember for the rest of our lives. May God bless and reward you all for your selfless service.


[A note about leaving comments: Many readers have posted as "Anonymous" only because they see no other option. This has resulted in an epidemic of commenters all going by the same name, which can be confusing.  I would prefer everyone use some type of username if possible.If you don't have a Google, Wordpress, or other username among those listed, you can enter a username in the dropdown box that reads "Name/URL." Simply put your name in the "Name" box, ignore the request for a URL, and you should be good to go. If the system still insists on a URL, enter any website you care to.  It doesn't matter.
I have a pretty firm policy of never censoring or deleting comments.  If your comment does not immediately appear, it probably means it is being held in the spam filter, which seems to lock in arbitrarily on some posts for reasons unknown.  If you have submitted a comment and it doesn't immediately show up, give me a nudge at RockWaterman@gmail.com and I'll knock it loose. -Rock] 



81 comments:

D. M. Brooks said...

Makes me think that once you learn a lesson theLord needs you to learn you can move on to your next one. And once you developed faith and abandoned fear you began to bear spiritual fruit and became part of the chain of love, the web of life and extend the blessings of the Lord to our brothers and sisters in need and its obvious the reason you got exactly as much money as was needed is part of a sign youre on the right track rock. Things have been very hard on me the last couple years but things always work out. Even what i thought the world was ending it was just changing and we lived. The more faith ive had and the more i let go and trust the Lord, the more stability and ease comes into the life of me and my family.

Anonymous said...

wow. Incredible lesson. Thank you for sharing. I think you may have just given me the key - if I can understand/learn how to apply it to my own life's unique circumstances.

There is someone helping us fairly regularly. I, also, consider it sacred funds. Most holy, given to us by God via kind, inspired people. Without it, we would be hungry again.

(I am usually not anonymous, but I will be this time.)

Karene said...

Hi Rock,

I've been following your blog (and catching up on many earlier posts) for a few months now. I am so grateful to you for what you're doing here. My mind has been slowly opening to the actual truths of the gospel over the past several years, and reading your blog has kept that important progress in motion. Relating to this post in particular, I have always been exactly the person you describe--figuring that my tithing and fast offering checks to the church meet my obligation to the poor. Always looking away when I see the beggar, or justifying my withheld assistance by assuming he'd use the money inappropriately. Something I read on your blog a few weeks ago made me rethink all this. I can't remember which post it was, I have read so many...anyway, not long afterward, I saw a man, woman and child on the side of the road with their cardboard sign. I had been waiting for this opportunity, praying for it in fact, and I'm sure it was no coincidence I had just been at the bank to withdraw some cash. I pulled over and handed the man $5. I can't tell you how good it felt. My only regret is that I didn't give more.

Thank you, and God bless you for what you do, through your thoughtful and faith-promoting blog posts, and in so many other ways.

JLC said...

Nice post, Rock.

I just need to add my testimony to yours. I was born again in the summer of 2009. And life is not the same. Thank God!

I lost my job a year earlier, was working for a few bucks an hour struggling to keep from losing everything. And like so many people that have been in this position I stayed up all night with fear. I was also morally bankrupt.

After my baptism of fire that all went away and just like you, fear was replaced with love(INSTANTANEOUSLY).

The miracles I have seen would blow your mind just as yours have done.

I have taken on people projects that the spirit has guided me to. Not only has my life been blessed but the people I have served have had their lives changed also.

On a sad note,one day I turned a corner in my car where a young lady was standing there with a sign that read, " single mother, need help to feed the kids." I always give if I have some money but this time I had no money so I drove on. The spirit told me to go to the bank and get some and go back. I didn't have time because I had to get back to work so I didn't. For the next 2 hours I was nagged inside for not going to the bank so I finally got up and drove back to the corner to tell the young lady to hold on a few minutes so I could get her some money. To my disappointment she was gone. It really bugged me. I gift not given and no lives blessed. I always carry a bunch of dollar bills in my car now.

I believe King Benjamin, "... all that he requires of you is to keep his commandment ( I have learned that means to love); and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you."

People, this is for real. Really, it is. Get yourself born again and be part of it. Alma seemed to think it was important (Mosiah 27:24-27)

Rock, you do such a great job to explain all of this. Thank you

Bruce Johns said...

I don't know why I feel "inspired" to mention this little tidbit, but I'll throw it out there:

Many years ago I received a wonderful lesson in how to be Christlike on a daily basis without inflating my ego in the process. It didn't come from the Church, in fact, it came from a recovering alcoholic.

Here's the deal:

Everyday you must do something to help another person (simple enough, huh?)

The catch:
1...if it benefits you personally, it doesn't count
2...if the person knows, or will find out that you did it, it doesn't count

Examine, if you will, what you have done for others today and see if it meets the above criteria.

Food for thought....

Rob said...

Rock, I provide a second witness to every point you made here. When I was baptized ten years ago as a young adult, I had the fortune and blessing to experience the baptism by fire contemporaneously with the baptism by water. Upon reading through the Book of Mormon for the first time, I stopped and wept when I read the bit about having my desires changed from bad to good, because I knew it had happened to me. I wept again when I read King Benjamin's speech regarding not giving because we have not, but being willing to give if we had. At the time, I was poor. I had also grown up in a poor family. I promised God at that time that I recognized that I was a nobody financially, and that if I ever became anything more than a nobody financially, I would recognize the difference as a gift from him to use on other people. I have stayed true to that promise, and it has brought me indescribable joy. Later, I was taught a sobering lesson by a relative on a small fixed income. He told me "anyone can give a dollar." That quote has changed my life.

Recently, a mutual friend of ours, Ron Madsen, pointed me in the direction of Liahona Children's Foundation (you can google it). I suddenly realized that here was a convenient bridge to folks who need it more than I do, and probably need it more than a lot of the folks I see asking for it around here. I have found myself making lifestyle changes to free up more funds for these poor children. It is a sobering thought to consider that $60 can be the difference between a child having a normal life, or being dead, retarded, or blind. Like you, God has not blessed me with the power to raise the dead, make the blind see, or restore normal function to a mentally handicapped person. But, he has given me $60, and providing nutritional supplements to a child in the 3rd world will do exactly that. I encourage everyone to go to the site and donate anything you can spare, even if it is $1. I promise you the Lord will bless you for it. He has blessed us tremendously.

John said...

Rock,
Thanks for a great blog post. It describes what the gospel is really all about. One of the earlier comments mentioned the Liahona Foundation which made me think of a story to share. I do volunteer work for the Liahona foundation and have traveled to Central America to help coordinate the local efforts of the foundation. The service is amazing that is being done by those who have so little.
The foundation works to provide enough nutrient-rich food to poor children so their brains don’t shrink and their bodies will keep growing to some degree. It costs about $5.00 per child per month to provide the proper nutrient-rich food.
Most of the local coordinators are themselves with very little income. During my visit to one area, the local coordinator asked us to spend the night in her home so we (my colleague and I) would not need to spend money on a motel. The home consisted of two rooms (a living/bed room and a kitchen). It had no electricity and no running water (missionaries who have served in Central America already know about these conditions) yet it was a fully functioning family home (it was not a slum home). We had a dinner with her family by candle light (no electricity in home) that consisted of corn that was picked from their garden and some bread rolls. My colleague and I slept in beds normally used by their children (the kids slip with Mom and Dad that night). It was one of the most amazing nights of my life. I was so full of gratitude for this woman and for the Lord who blesses me with so much. The thing that touched me the most, was not that the family lived in a humble home (millions of people around the world live in such ways), but that for a family having so little, she was more concerned to give to me than to ask me what I could do for her and her area. Her life was also so full of giving. She spends several hours each month to make sure the proper food was purchased and distributed to the children in need. She also measures and monitors the children to assess their needs and to recruit additional children to the program as the funds allowed. All this as a mother of three young children who themselves can use assistance with getting the proper food in their diet. Her and her husband’s life is another testament of your post.
By the way, the need is great for this type of assistance. The foundation is run by unpaid volunteers. All donations go to help get enough inexpensive nutrient-rich food to stop brain and tissue damage to young children. This is a program the church welfare program does not cover. To learn more, go to http://www.liahonachildren.org/.

-John

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rock. This may be you opus magnus.
A short story. Twenty years ago when my wife & I were first married we took a trip tothe Grand Canyon. On the way back to Phoenix airport we were talking and discussing how great it would be to be rich and all the good we could do. We stopped near the airport to fill the gas tank on the rental car and as I was pumping the gas a young man, dirty and scruffy looking came to me and asked for change. My reply was "why don't you get a job?".
When we boarded our plane I opened my Book of Mormon and it fell open to King Benjamin's address...if you turn away the beggar...I sat there convicted by my own selfishness and wept at how I had treated that young man (angel?) at the gas station. I have made it a point to never pass up a beggar since then. Often I too will go around the block or do a u turn to get back to hand them some money.
Great post brother.
You are loved.
JR

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I am very much appreciating these stories you all are sharing. Thank you. Keep 'em coming.

Some folks have been asking me about Connie. The surgery at the beginning of last month consisted of having a pump embedded under her skin that will inject pain medication directly into her spine. Because the incisions must heal fully, the device has been empty until yesterday, when a small dosage was injected. This amount is too small to be effective, but that's the procedure; amounts will be increased every week until the proper dose is achieved. So to answer the questions I've been receiving, there has been no improvement yet.Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated during this difficult time, and thank you.

Anonymous said...

DPer here--

I am only about 2/3 of the way through, and I want to read Lectures on Faith now--

I have a lot to contemplate--

Another layer of the onion--

good thing I like onions (*hee, hee*)

I'm sorry there's still no pain relief for Connie, but hope is everything--well . . . after faith, I guess--LOL!

Glad to know that it is coming; being in pain all the time is . . .--

hard.

But, how, Rock, without coming off as self-righteous or 'know it all' do *we* convince our fellow LDS that a POTUS can't save *us*?


Anonymous said...

from that last sentence--

DPer here--

bearing in mind that we must help each other, times being what they are--

and how can we convince fellow 'saints' that times ARE hard; so many I know think things are just great and that if times are tough *we* are doing something wrong--


sort of Romneyesque--

(sorry; couldn't resist that)--

I saw a horrible ad the other day that someone had doctored--

where he said, "anyone who is not rich is a _____ and a ________"--

basically, as in, if you aren't rich, it's your own fault--

I digress--

but it feels to me that the church is being divided into two very opposing parts--

those who still have, and those who have not--

and many who have not are . . . simply, out of exhaustion, falling out, while those who have remain in and feel good about themselves--

for 'enduring to the end'--

oh well--

I got way off there--

I must forgive my wealthy ward members who sniff at my family--

(and we don't even get church help)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've just been directed to an LDS themed blog, "Unending Luck" that I am finding quite interesting; the proprietor has a fascination with language as it relates to scripture, particularly Anglo-Saxon words. Here is a little of what he has to say on the subject of sacrifice:

"Sacrifice is a Latin import into English. One of the Anglo words that can be used for sacrifice is "yield." Yield means to give forth, produce, give, give way to, let go. A tree can yield fruit. A deposit yields interest. A garden yields an harvest. A knight yields to a king. Yield comes from a root meaning to be worth, to pay, or to return."

“Yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever.”
– 2 Chronicles 30:8

http://unendingluck.blogspot.com/2010/04/lucky-word-yield.html

Jamie said...

{{{HUGZ}}} Oh Alan this is an AWESOME blog piece and reflects what's been on my mind a lot. I've been doing some Law of (Sub)Attraction work on myself (like The Secret only through meditation/hypnosis)and after listening to and learning about the principles of the Law of Attraction I FINALLY understood what the Law of Tithing REALLY meant! Hubby and I haven't paid tithing for years because it's been so burdensome but we've been discussing starting again only instead of funneling money into the church we've been toying with the idea of getting a "piggy bank" to put whatever we can in and then go give it away to someone. The "pay it forward" bug has hit me hard lately. I know we've received many a blessings over the years and looking back on it I KNOW we didn't deserve them because I know we weren't as giving as we could have been over the years. I is hard to reprogram your brain out of that "scarcity" mindset! But I have found that it DOES work! When you pay your tithes with pure faith and without worry blessings DO come! I'm only now discovering that. I hate to admit that but it's true. :P Your piece is has given me the motivation and inspiration to keep going with the change of heart and mind I've been working on for myself. Thank You! and God bless you and Connie! :)

Fusion said...

Rock, you really did it this time. Very little of your usually excellent research into all things historical and doctrinal, but this may become one of my favourite posts of yours. Why? Because it is about being and becoming. It is about love in the way that we as humans cannot understand, until we actually 'do'. Because it is about the second great commandment. I, for one, am astonished how insular we LDS have become- we truly think that the 'shoulds', like you so poetically pointed out, is all there is for our exaltation. Rock, thank you. I have been meaning to email you back since that last email, but believe it or not, just as my son was recovering so well from his surgery, amazingly he suddenly has to have a completely sudden unrelated surgery, just a few weeks later! And a painful one too. I am digressing, but apologies for not replying.

Almost everything you said here could have been written by me. The last couple of months, maybe even years, has brought similar experiences. However, I could never coin a phrase as meaningful as you did in this piece (unless you got it from someone else??) 'Service doesn't make us poorer, it makes us richer.' Oh, that is beautiful. I don't to get it out of my head, or, out of my heart...

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I think my other readers might be interested in hearing the account of Fusion's recent miracle which he related to me via email recently after he and his wife had contributed to the Rock & Connie Car Fund:

"Rock, I'd like to share something in regards to our contribution after what we have been going through- feel free to share this on your website if you like as it is the power of faith and in my opinion, the incomprehensible mercy of our Lord.

"You see, when we took our son to the surgeon to see if he needed surgery, the surgeon's eyes popped open when he saw my son's tonsils and adenoids, and the video we made of him sleeping- basically he was going without air for 13-15 seconds.

"Anyway, to cut the 6 part mini-series short, the surgeon said he needed the surgery immediately- the price to jump the 8 month long queue= $3,500. Now keep in mind, we had pretty much zero (not an exaggeration) as we were still catching up from losing finance after my experiences with motor accidents and surgeries, and the ensuing (hopefully temporary) retirement from being a pro musician.

"In an act of seemingly ludicrous positivity, I told my Wife to just go ahead and book the darn thing, the Lord would provide the answer. A couple of days later it hit me that we simply had no way to get the $3,500- and I had already sold most of my musical equipment, with just the bare essentials for teaching, which is what I do to earn a buck exclusively since performing is non existent.

"Well, imagine my surprise when in the depths of heaviness a few days before the op, late september, a student of mine who is 82 yrs old, former pharmacist and a great composer with a couple of CD's to his credit, and whose 3rd album I am writing with him, rings me and asks me if I have got the money to pay for the op. I said no, laughing at my silly attempt at faith. He then told me he could no longer travel to me for lessons, but had a deal- if I would travel to him, 45mins away, he would put in $2,000 in my account upfront so it could go towards the op! We were amazed!

"But there's more."

(continued)

Dan said...

Hell of a post Rock. MY blog is discussing the same issue of FEAR, funny the synchronicity.

Thanks for relating your perspective and experience for us!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I look forward to seeing your post on fear, Dan.

Dan's blog can be found here:

http://ldsviews.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

As always, Rock, I have been blessed with a desire to become a better person from the reading of this blog! I have to admit that I agree with you on faith vs. fear. Not an easy road to take when you are struggling. It takes a "leap" of faith, and sometimes leaps can strain your muscles and make you hurt for a while. But in the end, you are further ahead than you would have been by safely standing in a comfortable spot.

Many years ago while raising our family of 5 children, we lived in Huntington Beach, CA, where there are homeless everywhere you turn. We were trying to teach our children service, and we loved giving it because of how it made us feel. One day, we saw a homeless woman with 2 children on the street. We stopped and asked what they needed. She had been going to a relatives to shower and sleep, but needed food. So, we came back with food. Another time we saw an extremely agitated and obviously disturbed older woman just sitting on the side of the road. I didn't have any money at the time, so the kids and I went home and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and put some Hi-C drinks and other little goodies in a brown paper bag. When we went back to deliver the goods to her, she was gone. So we drove around town a little bit until we found her. I got out of the car with the bag and she immediately backed away from me, looking at me as if I was going to attack her! I held out the bag to her and she finally grabbed it and ran back to her spot against the fence. She began taking the food out and eating it, while me and the kids happily watched for a moment and then drove off. This was a practice we followed for many years.

The reason I mention these experiences is that, though we had very little ourselves at the time, these were probably the most
satisfying experiences I can remember. In fact, when we became "better off" financially later on in our lives, I don't remember doing as much for people as I did when we had less! What is that all about? This is something I'll have to think about.

I hope you don't mind me sharing an experience my husband and I had with you a few weeks ago:) My husband and I sent you a small contribution toward your needed car. We have never met you, yet we feel that we know you through your blogs, etc. We both felt a desire to bless you and Connie in some small way. A week later, you found out that I had an accident and had broken my ankle and had no health insurance. On a Wednesday morning, my husband went to the post office to get our mail and came back with an envelope with a check from YOU and Connie!! We both asked the question, "why did Rock send that money when he is so destitute?" We felt almost insulted that you would "pay us back" and with interest. Then, later that morning when I went to the doctor for my ankle, I found out I needed a piece of home medical equipment we needed to purchase. We were short in funds, and so we knew I would have to wait a week or so. THEN, I remembered that we had gotten a check from Rock Waterman that morning in the amount we were short! That is when we were able to look at this as the blessing it was. No longer did I perceive you as an "Indian Giver" (smile)!!! My husband went to the bank with the check and deposited it, and we were able to buy the equipment I needed.

I hope this comment doesn't bore people. Thanks for letting me share! Love and hugs to you and Connie. Cathy and Keith

Bryan Peifer said...

My concern is in how children are taught to follow the Savior. We teach them to keep the commandments for all the wrong reasons. I don't believe the Savior uses the reward system like man does. You'll go to the Celestial Kingdom or he'll give you blessings and such. One will say, “well, they are just kids and would not understand the higher meaning.” I say to that...“Hey Teacher...Leave Those Kids Alone!” By the time their older, like it or not those young children grow up to be members who think God is a Santa Claus bestowing gifts for doing good and putting coal in our boot when we're bad. I say to the Youshouldites, go...get out of here.

Will we not be judged as to the desires of our heart? Why did Paul state at the end of I Corinthians Chapter 12 when speaking of spiritual gifts, “And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.” and then goes on in chapter 13 about what one amounts to if they are not filled with love.

Think of this, Rock is saying that the opposite of faith is fear. Paul in chapter 12 of I Corinthians talks about spiritual gifts, that if our heart is right before God that they are used to bless the lives of others and not for our own advantage. In I John 4:18 he says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear...”. Wow, it takes faith for the gifts of the spirit to come alive in us, yet if we are full of fear (lack faith) these gifts die in us. BUT WAIT! THAT'S NOT ALL! John tells us that there is no fear in love. Is this why Paul said to the Corinthians, “I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.” and then talks of love? Love kicks out fear.

I'll end with this, I believe our Heavenly Father, like Joseph Smith said, "is more liberal in his views and more boundless in his mercies than we are ready to believe." I'm not sure about others, but I respond to love. I don't respond to intimidation, fear-mongering, rewards and gifts dangled in front of my face or methods invented by man, corporations or our adversary (one in the same). I respond to love. I believe that most of us do. As Paul said, love is patient and kind. Think back to those who didn't say, “you should”, but who with love and persuasion helped you to see the higher reasons for imitating the life of the Savior. Not for reward and not for the Celestial Kingdom, but because you cared more for others than yourself. The reasons for this church is not numbers, charts or ladder climbing people who boast about a “church career” (read about Sadducee) or checking off righteousness checklists. We are here to lift each other and to love each other no matter what...just as our Savior would. Remember we are His friends.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, Cathy, here is the rest of that story:

Just after the donations finished coming in and we had acquired the car, I read your comment on Facebook how you had just gone on a nice walk with your husband when you stepped wrong and broke your ankle! Not only did you sound despondent about being laid up, but you and Keith had no medical insurance and were suddenly saddled with a $750 bill over it.

After the kindness you had just shown us, I didn't think that was fair. Life should have rewarded you, and this had to happen instead. I certainly couldn't do anything about that medical bill, but I thought wouldn't it be nice if I could manage to just send you back the amount of money you had sent me, just to show you that no good deed goes unrewarded and that "what goes around comes around."

Only thing was, although we now had the car, we were still pretty much squeezed dry at the moment. Then suddenly our friend Eva from Australia dropped another donation into my Paypal account. Eva had already contributed to the car; in fact, a few months back, when she and her husband learned that my bike had been stolen, she even sent money to help get me another. So in my view, Eva had already gone above and beyond, yet she was still funneling money to me after my need had been met.

I wasn't comfortable accepting it, and here's why. I believe very sincerely that these donations were sent for a specific purpose, and it I abused it, I would be guilty of avarice.

Believe me, I'm not being noble. I like money. I would probably sell out my own mother for money if she were still alive, but lucky for her she isn't, so for now she's safe.

But I know how easily I fall to temptation, and Eva's money sat there like a giant chocolate cake, tempting me to take it and spend it on myself. (Perhaps on chocolate cake.)I was afraid such an abuse might change my luck, and I didn't want that.

But when I wrote Eva she told me she felt inspired to send the money anyway because she perceived a need, and so I allowed myself to simply be her vessel and sent it on to you. As it turned out, she was right, there was a need -yours. so I told Eva about the good deed she had just done for you in your hour of discouragement, and she was glad she could be of service.

Did you notice something about this gift? It didn't set me back one cent. When we do it right, that's the way it's all supposed to work; when we place our love into the flow of the cosmos, everybody wins, there are no losers. I happen to know that Eva is receiving spiritual blessings in her life right now as a result of recent changes that have only made her stronger and closer to Christ. She has probably a more spirit filled life these days than ever before, and it is all do to her loving nature.

I also have no doubt that everyone who assisted me and Connie in our time of need will be repaid for their kindness sooner or later. As the Savior said, "that which ye reap, so also will you sow." What goes around does indeed come around. Watch for it.

Jules said...

What a great post.

I was so moved that on my commute this morning I deliberately broke down a $50 and determined that if I came across someone I could help...I would.

And there (as if by scripting)in the park I walk across to work there is someone on a park bench underneath a pile of blankets, obviously having spent the night rough.

Fear gripped me. Should I wake them up...? I passed by once, maybe I should come back later...will he be there?...50 yards later I crystalised into action, turned on my heel and went back, gently asking 'the blanket' if they were ok. He stirred. I felt inadequate. I just said, "I'd like to give you some money - is that ok?"

We shook hands, a value was exchanged, I walked on, renewed, tears building.

Thank you Rock. You opened my eyes.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That was a very moving story, Jules. Thanks for posting.

Fusion said...

Bryan (wonderful words you wrote), Jules, Eva, Rock, all of you...the Spirit is overtaking me reading the comments on this page! THIS IS WHAT ZION IS SUPPOSED TO START OUT AS! One brother has the guts to get a blog up on some very strong stuff, then writes about love, faith and fear. Then, testimonies of services received and given. And suddenly the domino effect grows! I cannot tell you all how edified I feel reading what is going on here in this little corner of the web. In fact, I am starting to feel convinced that Zion won't begin till we all get actively seeking for it, not just for the good of our own searching souls, but in order to BLESS THE LIVES OF EACH OTHER. I feel for those Lamanites- they went through so much in the Book of Mormon times, then scattered and beaten up but the Gentiles, and now, forgotten by the very 'elect' who presume that they hold the High Priesthood of God, at the top of the corporate ladder. Zion, is the Lamanites' own...and I cannot wait to (hopefully, if I can sneak in somehow:) feel the love thereof.

Brothers and Sisters, THANK YOU for this beautiful comments after Rock's inspired piece.

Bryan Peifer said...

Good Day Fusion,
I too am so appreciative for Rock and all the rest who spend time in our little corner here. I mentioned to someone that at one time I had these plans to have my own library at home with books all over the place and chairs and just plain comfortable. A place where I could sit with kindred spirit and discuss the wonderful doctrines of a loving Father in Heaven. Since I know that isn't going to happen anytime soon, this will do. Rock built the room and all of us come, from all over the world. When I joined the church 32 years ago, this is what I imagined. Brothers and Sisters in the gospel talking freely of the kingdom and whats in store. Instead, I found suits and people who are satisfied with taking primary classes year after year for the rest of their lives. I found men who when they get up to give a talk in church, deliver like they are at a business meeting or luncheon. I find people who actually term it, "church career".

I'm just glad that I've met people of like mind here at pure mormonism and even though feeling like an outlier is part of our search in drawing nearer to Him, I was beginning to feel lonely. Thanks friend.

Bryan Peifer said...

On my way to work this morning, I was praying and contemplating the subject that Rock has brought up. The reality of fear and how it paralyzes us. It took Joseph Smith to go through his experience in Liberty Jail to make great strides in his spiritual growth. I understand from reading Rough Stone Rolling that the subject of his sermons started to be about mercy, forgiveness, friendship, etc. More on subjects about relationships, whether with Christ or other brothers and sisters. Are we there yet? Am I? I hope I'm closer than lets say, 10 years ago. I believe with all my being that the majority of us are good and want to do good. I thought to myself, what is holding me back? My lack of Love. In every prayer, I pray that I may find grace and that I will forgive others and be forgiven. I pray that I may not allow fear and the discouragement of my adversary get the best of me.

Years ago, I received a blessing from a man who didn't know me from Adam. In that blessing he said to control my emotions. As I've gone through life, that counsel has come to mind often. Fear has been my greatest enemy. Because oft times when fear overtakes us, anger enters in. I'm not sure if anyone in this forum has had first hand experience with that, but I know that anger follows with fear and if the adversary can keep us in that place, he knows love is hard to grasp.

Bryan Peifer said...

Bruce, you thoughts are good and much appreciated. #2 is sometimes difficult. As hard as you try, sometimes you get caught. I just think it's important that our motives be born of love and that people feel of our love for them. I think there are ways to give of ourselves without making people feel obligated to us. People can sense when we are being sincere. #1 is the clincher. How many people do this? I think the first step in becoming like the Savior is introspection. Recognizing when are motives are born out of guile. It's no wonder why Christ exclaimed with happiness that Nathanial was a man without guile (deceit). Interestingly, Christ was very longsuffering with those who admitted their unworthiness with desires to change, unlike those who professed purity and their good deeds were for their own advantage or to impress others.

It's the people who see nothing wrong with motives. You know, I'll read a chapter a day and I'll be done, I'll say my morning and evening prayers, etc.

Sorry for the long response but I remember something that Neal A. Maxwell had said. He was talking about service and said that service project assignments are fine but should not replace the personalized service that we can render. Sometimes there are situations and opportunities that arise that we are best qualified to administer. To know this takes real self examination on our part to recognize and determine what the Lord has imparted to us both spiritually and temporally. I know personally I get concerned because we measure our "service given" by how many assignments we've fulfilled, hometeaching, callings. It turns into statistics, interviews and creates the notion that we are being like the Savior. Imagine that.

Bryan Peifer said...

I'm a big fan of Amazon. After Rock mentioned about Lectures on Faith I had to go out and find a inexpensive copy. It's on it's way. Rock has done this to me more than once.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Fusion's Story Continued:

"Next day, sitting at school in my break, I was running out of time to come up with $1,500 more and cursing myself for not being a lawyer, accountant or some other impressive Modern LDS-ish profession instead of a passionate, dreamer's career like I have...and I started to pray. Right then, a fellow teacher whose daughter I used to teach years ago, came unannounced into my room. I have always said to everyone that she is just glowing with the light of Christ, a true Catholic (I work at 2 Catholic schools).

"She knew about the op as I mentioned it in passing, and now she said 'I hope I don't offend you, but as I got into my car the Lord asked me to pray. I prayed and then felt him telling me to call my husband. And thus, we both would like to offer you some money we have saved for the op'....I almost died Rock. The amount? Exactly what we needed, dollar for dollar.

"I cried like a baby in front of her. I just could not get over this love of our Saviour...how can He be so real whilst being so invisible from view in this world?! We jumped at her offer and made a deal to pay her back in installments- although she didnt want a cent back. Upon insisting that she could then use that money to help another person, she finally accepted :)

"So, you can see that He moves in all our lives. This Catholic lady so lovingly shared what the Lord blessed her with- and I know she and her family don't have much. So, with much gratitude we sent you our tiny amount- so wish we had more to share and help others...nonetheless.

"We happen to be in the richest (financially speaking)ward in Australia from all reports. Sorry to say, but we didn't even get a call to see if we needed any help, financial or any other way. I am not upset or offended at this- in fact, I am in awe at how the Book of Mormon so majestically talks of us Gentiles in this day and age.

"Still, instead of compassion and help (once again, I am not in any way angry with the ward), I got a call from a friend in another stake who proceeded to tell me that more than one person in my Elder's quorum told him emphatically that I had gone inactive, as I haven't been at church since june. This is funny, as we email the visiting teachers frequently to tell them our situation, and how we all couldn't make it to church because of sickness.

"In an earlier time I would have loved to grab them by the scruff of the neck and 'throw down' with them (symbolically speaking, of course!) in the carpark after Elders Quorum! But like I said, I am not upset with my ward. It makes me wonder though, how can we begin to have charity outside our own circle unless we accept the opportunities for charity within our own wards, stakes and church?"

Tammy said...

Amen.

Anonymous said...

Rock's article and the stories and experiences that have been shared here, are the true definition of what it means to have the "pure love of Christ" in our lives. It's not about what we do, but "who" we become. Without fore-thought, we serve others because we love them - no other reason. The scriptures tell us that when we see the Savior, we will know Him, because we will be "like Him". That can only happen when we understand and live this principle as each of you have so graciously demonstrated. "If ye have not charity, ye are nothing". To me, that says it all.

Thank You Rock! And thank you everyone for sharing your personal stories. I felt the Spirit very strongly as I read each of your comments - which is a witness to me of the truthfulness of this principle in our lives. I've learned today, that I have a long way to go. Who needs church meetings, when one can experience such a strong and loving Spirit, as we've felt here? I know! I know! Just kidding! LOL

Keith

Esther said...

Thank you Rock. This came at a time I really needed it. Say Hi to Connie for me. Ask her to email me. Esther

Ka rl Waterman said...

I ke3p some one's and five's in the ashtray, since it has no other purpose. i do my best to keep some trader joe's jerky packs with me. a simple gift of food,ight and portable as well. I love you my brother from the same mother!

FeRod said...

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mother, Betsy, re-married a fellow named Jim who became my step-father. Jim took on the responsibility of molding this young "Mommas Boy" into some semblance of a man. Jim and Betsy were low middle class, the bills just about equaled the income each month, there was little or none left for extras. Jim maintained his work car and Betsy's family car himself, both were used cars but Jim made sure that Betsy had the better of the two. Our family decided to go visit Grandma in Phoenix, and we set out for the long drive, traveling at night to avoid the desert heat with the windows open, laying on the back seat watching the stars through the windows, and the shadows of the lights forming weird shapes as we passed, while singing along with the rest of the family as we drove down the road. I would like to now quote from my journal:

"Our family cars weren't pretty, but they were dependable, they had regular oil changes, good tires, there was a jack and a good spare tire too. There was a small ammo box in the trunk that was full of tools, wire, tape, etc. just in case something broke, we might find what we need, or find something to improvise to get us back on the road. As we were motoring up the Cajon Pass, Dad saw a car pulled over to the right shoulder with it's hood open. A plumpish lady standing alone alongside the car looking forlorn. We stopped. She had a flat tire. Dad offered to change it for her, although she had a spare, her car did not have a jack. Well, my Dad began chewing her ass out for having a husband who would let her travel without a dependable piece of equipment, and without the tools she might need in a case like she found herself in now. He really bombed her verbally all the time he was working on her car. He told her to let her husband know that he wasn't much of a man for letting his wife get stranded like she was, and on and on and on. She seemed kind of shaken by the time he had her ready to roll again. She thanked Dad, but barely meant it because of what she had just had to endure. Jim put our jack back into our trunk, and just as we were about to get into our car to leave the roadside, he smiled and winked at me. He had let her have it with both barrels to impress on her (and probably me too)how he viewed a man's responsibility to his wife and family"

Lesson learned. Jim didn't have money but he had knowledge and wisdom. He "loved" that lady by using his talents to help her continue her journey, he "loved" her when he passed on his "heavy handed" opinion hoping that she would get home and demand that her man step up and care for her properly. He "loved" me by making a big enough scene in front of an impressionable boy so that the lesson would be remembered, and Betsy learned more about how her new husband would take care of her, he loved her and she knew it.

Pure love of Christ? In Jim's own way....yes!

I pray for Connie and you daily.

Love you Rock,

Rod

Bryan Peifer said...

I hope that I'm not seen as monopolizing the conversation, but this subject is very close to my heart. Like many of us in this forum, I am concerned that members have become anesthetized into thinking that participating in the programs of the church is living the gospel. In 2010, Rock had an article called "The Best Conference Talk You Never Read" is about a conference talk given by Elder Poelman in the 1984 October conference. It basically said that as a person becomes more Christ centered, the less dependent they are on church programs. Here are Elder Poelman's words from the original talk.

"As individually and collectively we increase our knowledge, acceptance and application of gospel principles, we become less dependent on Church programs. Our lives become gospel centered.”

One of the things I constantly pray for is that I am not being deceived by what Joseph Smith warned against as the deception of self-righteousness. I realize my shortcomings by reading of the wonderful things that people are doing as I read about them in this forum. In the place of giving money which many times I do not carry on me, I give in the way of helping others by being aware of others needs at the moment.

I have a strong belief that our Savior was always so keenly aware as to the needs of those around him and he just stepped up and helped people who at the time were in need of help. The simple things of helping a mother push grocery carts to her car when there is only one of her and 5 kids to small to help. The other day I was at Aldi's where when you shop, you have to carry your groceries out in boxes that you find around the store. I saw the lady in front of me in that this may have been her first time shopping there, yet she had a lot of groceries, but no boxes. I pulled out of line and got boxes for her. I guess you can tell I've been at the grocery store lately. I know this isn't much, but it's the small acts of kindness that help to make someone's day a little easier. I try to work on that.

To me I believe that love is aware of others in needs and doing what we can to ease the burden in some way.

Bryan Peifer said...

Like many families, our whole family does not have any insurance. I get the typical response from members of, "well then, you need to get some." Those of us who live in the situation of even if you are working full time, cannot afford the company insurance and are making just enough over to have any type of state or federal insurance.

I can look at what my family has gone through and I can also see in the people who I have met in this forum. Our experiences have given use perspective. I do not say that with self-righteousness, but with gratefulness for the Lords wisdom and mercy. All of us have experienced his love.

jewelfox said...

Rock, your essays helped me when I needed them. I've commented before under a different name, and you helped me out personally. But I'm going to have to express disagreement just for the sake of helping myself articulate my own ideas, even though they're not going to persuade you.

You said:

I held the key to delivering myself out of my own poverty.

This is BS.

Not only does believing this taint generosity ("I'd better be nice to them so that I will be blessed for it"), it blames the victim. It turns all those homeless people into jerks who just weren't generous enough, to all those other jerks who weren't generous enough. And it turns a basic act of decency and solidarity into proof that you are Better Than.

You act surprised that People Like You are now becoming homeless. You're blind to how the human-shaped creatures preying on them preyed on countless others before. You're blind to what it was like for them because you're trained to see poor people around you as objects, as things to be acted upon, and to see your own poverty as a moral test.

All those people out there, the abuse victims, the rape victims, the elderly, the disabled; you want them to beg for your help. You want people to be able to choose to help the worthy poor, the photogenic poor, the cute little girls who need organ transplants. The members of Our Church, Our Family, Our Community, who uphold its standards (or act like they do) to our satisfaction. And while you yourself would help everyone, you respect my mom's and my church's "right" to let her transgender daughter die over my right to live.

You've taken it as an article of faith that "the government can't solve our problems." But the most socialist societies in the world right now -- Sweden, Norway, Canada -- are generally the nicest places to live. Especially as someone who can't take care of herself, no matter how hard she tries, and has spent enough time blaming herself for that and just wants to freaking live for once.

Maybe governments are like people, in that they grow into your expectations. Maybe your insults are self-fulfilling prophecies, just like they are with verbally abused kids and partners. Maybe your fatalism, your doom-and-gloom premilennialism, is causing you to see Prophecy Fulfilled where there's really a crime of neglect on your and every other voter's part.

Maybe injustices can be mended, instead of accepted as forces of nature.

Maybe one day, no one will have to beg to live.

Bryan Peifer said...

Hello Jewelfox,

Your perspective may be warranted because of things that you have suffered through or seen others go through in your life and I think that there are many here who can understand where you are coming from. First, lets keep in mind what Rock himself has been through and that like you, all of us are learning how to deal with things in life that are absolutely unfair and, how else can I say, out of whack.

I noticed that right after Rock made that comment he went on to say "I was fearful that if I were to truly practice my religion by loving my brother enough to lighten his yoke a little, that I might put my own family and my own survival in jeopardy."

Is it possible that the poverty that Rock really delivered himself out of the the poverty of fear that clouds our vision as to the ability within us to assist and bless our brother and sister?

I believe one lesson that the Lord is trying to teach us is that all things essentially belong to him. He is our provider and that we are his helpers in providing for each other. As mentioned previously, love does push out the fear, the fear that holds us back from extending our hands out to help another.

I am certain that Rock like the rest of us understand that life happens to all of us and that there are many things that happen where we are not the cause, as some people would try to use that excuse. It's up to people like us, to practice being true children of God and practice the teachings of our Savior, without ulterior motives and without self-righteousness.

Vinz Clortho said...

Shoulds and cars...

Put your should-er to the wheel.....

Connie Waterman said...

Dear JewelFox,
you could not be further from the truth. I found your comment to be so heartbreaking, that it hurt my heart deeply. Your worldview is troubling to me. What has occurred in your life to make you only see the pain and atrocities of life around you?

Rock is not home now and has not seen your comment yet, so I will respond. He only spoke of ONE thing that he does to assist those in need around him. He would never speak of all of the other things that he and I have done. I will though.

1st there was the time he was coming home from work in a blizzard at 2AM in Utah. At Point of the Mountain Rock saw a man laying at the side of the road, literally freezing to death. He brought him home and gave him the couch to sleep on. I don't mind telling you that he looked very scary to me! When Rock feels the Spirit, I trust him- as he trusts me. My fear left. After this man departed the next day, I looked and saw that the breakfast I had watched him eat with my own eyes, still on the table uneaten. Was this an Angel? I know that the answer is yes! I can not tell you how many times Rock and I both felt to look and found no "BEGGARS" begging, but other people like this who needed help...NOW! We brought an entire sunburned and dehydrated family home with us who were from out of state and stranded in the summer heat. We fed and nurtured them for over a week. They were from another state and found themselves stranded here. We did what we could to help them on their way home when they were ready.

We don't always have much money but we have left anonymous boxes of our own food at the doors of our neighbors when we knew they were struggling. We would give almost all we have to someone who is suffering. At one point we did...because we gave everything we had to a starving family- anonymously. Rock simply chose to write about something we can ALL do, JewelFox. That is why he focused on homeless people standing on the corner. Everyone can give someone in need a dollar or two. Writing this blog takes more of Rock's time than you know- especially from me at times. BUT I believe in his...OUR inspiration that he write this beautiful blog. It touches my soul all the time.

Anonymous said...

LDSDPer here--

I can't talk about my own situation--

it's too unique, and I might be identified, and I don't need for that to happen.

But, JewelFox, I can't speak for Rock here, but I can tell you that many of us know that governments often masquerade as 'helpful', while there are many within governments, and, yes, even shadow governments, that do exploit, abuse, use, etc.

If I were to talk about my own family I could make this clear--

but I would be very surprised if Rock is 'naive' at all about what is happening in the world. I have appreciated his perspective, and I've seen some terrible things--

I really don't dare say more--

Why is it wrong for someone to have the faith to give to people without knowing their circumstances?

39 aHe that findeth his life shall blose it: and he that closeth his dlife for my sake shall find it.

I'm sorry; it didn't link well--

But Rock gave all the scriptures; those who serve the most downtrodden are doing it to Jesus Christ.

Why is that bad? Or wrong? No, there aren't enough in the world who do that, and there are some terrible things that happen. I do know--
but, again, I dare not give examples; I have people I need to protect.

I'm sorry life has been so hard for you. Rock and Connie's experiences inspire me, even though, in my present circumstance, I don't often meet people I can help (complicated)--

but I can pray--and I can be generous in other ways--

and I have been motivated to do so by reading this--

even though we are certainly in challenging circumstances as a family; yes, we are some of those who are uninsured, and we have some complicated health problems in our family as well--

Thanks, Connie, for letting Rock do this blog. I have referred a number of people to it, and my husband and I both enjoy it.

I hope you are feeling better; few things are more difficult than constant pain.

A and E said...

Dear Sister Connie, I have to tell you how delighted I am to read you post. I am looking forward to hearing your testimony and learning from your abundant store of knowledge and wisdom. Please start a blog soon!

I have to say that I LOVE this blog post of Rocks, it is very profound and inspires me to reach further in love to those around me. Thank you Rock.
I have enjoyed reading everyone's experiences with Love, Charity and Service. Rock, I think this is your best blog post by far...many are being inspired by your words.

Love you both

E

Connie Waterman said...

Anonymous-LDSDPer,

I consider myself to be a "prayer warrior". Most of the time in bed, it is all that I can do. Truly prayer is the most important thing we can do! If this is all you can do, then it is acceptable, of this I know. So many of our fellow man are hurting. If all you can do is smile at someone to let them know that they are not alone, then I believe this is acceptable to the Lord. I can not begin to tell you all how many times people have done these seemingly simple things for me, and I have found the courage to lift up my head. To go on.

Kindness can be so free and freeing.

I would also like to point out that the government nor the church could have or would have assisted the people that we have. Rock is not naive about the government at all...or the Church's limitations.

Anonymous said...

I do understand. Prayer has an entirely different meaning for me now, too--

:)

Anonymous said...

JewelFox, I hope my words didn't offend you. I went back and re-read them, trying to understand.

I am sorry for the pain you have experienced and are still experiencing. Because sometimes those of us who are struggling are able to help others doesn't mean that those who have nothing are bad--

I hope you understand that. I have come to understand, and if I could go into detail about some people in my family, you would know that I understand, that often people suffer so that those who are evil will have a witness against them.

I do get tired of this. There are things that I can't stop from happening, and it is a terrible thing--

So I pray for Jesus to come. I've had people tell me that that makes me a coward or something--
but it's what I do--

LDSDPer--

I've run out of other options. But in the meantime, I do believe in being open-handed--

even if I have little or nothing--

it does work; I am quite sure that there are homeless people who do help others; I am sure of it--
and I also know that statistics do show that the poorest people in the world are the most generous; that is, in fact, something many people do know--
Sometimes when a person is very ill he/she can't do anything but stay alive, and that is not as easily done as it sounds either--
I will be praying for you, JewelFox.

Anonymous said...

@JewelFox: Dear friend, I'd like to validate your feelings and the emotions you have expressed here. All of us need to be validated, because all of us are important and matter! Thanks for sharing.

I think you may have misunderstood the remarks made on this thread. When people share their spiritual or life-altering experiences when having given service or received it, it is with the purest intent, I believe. Charity is the hallmark of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, if we lived in a perfect world, charity would trump anything the government could do for people.

I have come to realize that it is not by any huge acts of kindness that we bless others, but by our small, everyday offerings. When people give a little of their time and means to help a fellow human being, it blesses the giver as much, if not more, than the receiver.

I agree with you that people don't always create their own poverty. There are many victims, who through no fault of their own, are left to scrimp together a meager existence for themselves and their families. And may we all be merciful to those who are so desperate that they end up accepting the spoils of socialism. I'll never judge anyone for that, because I'm not qualified to know a person's heart or circumstances.

If the world was ideal, there would be no need of government assistance, because charity would fill all needs. There would be "no poor among you". I long for that day.

Please don't judge too harshly those who share their "giving" experiences. When we can honestly bear the testimonies we derive from following Christ in some small way, it inspires others to want to be better as well. That's what I have gotten from this thread.

The question is, what can we do for you? May God bless you.
Cathy C.

Bryan Peifer said...

Cathy C.

You said something that jogged my memory. Cathy you said, "I agree with you that people don't always create their own poverty.", and I totally agree with you. In the beginning of 2004 I suddenly became unemployed with no severance pay or anything. I work in IT and where I live where the market was shrinking for IT people. I hunted and applied for 9 months and then ever since, it's been under employment. We used a lot of food storage, savings and the 401k and then bankruptcy because we literally did not have any money.

I remember at times being treated like a leper because I was out of work and "getting assistance". People didn't know how to act. I would often go over in my mind, asking myself what did I do wrong. I would review how I did what I was counseled and did everything possible like a good mormon. Tithing...check, scriptures...check, temple...check, meetings...check and so on. But I was promised that if I did what I was told, I would be blessed and prosper in the land. I just wanted to help bless my family so why did this happen?

I found that God was bringing me back around to where I needed to be, and where I was praying to be. I was just puzzled at the way He was doing it. I hear the falsehood being taught by leaders to our youth that if they do A, B and C that D is going to happen. It's too bad that we have generations of adults who have been raised on that false teaching, who then turn around and teach it to their children. So what happens? People get the idea that, if a person is suffering in poverty, "The man has brought upon himself his misery". He must have sinned or something. If the people have money, kids, the father is a Bishop and the mom is Relief Society President, then they must be keeping the commandments. What is strange is that a people such as we, who claim to follow the teachings of Christ, who tells us that "Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another", we seem to be influenced by appearance.

I'll leave off with one of my favorite books of scriptures, The book of James, Chapter 2, versus 1 through 5.

2:1 My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
2:2 For if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes,
2:3 do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”?
2:4 If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?
2:5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?

Matt said...

Your post Rock recalled some old memories. My mother died in 1958 when I was 2 years old, I have no memories of her at all, only photos. I am going to relate a story about my mother that happened to me in 1980, it is a bit long so please bear with me:
I was working at a fruiterers, one of my daily tasks was to unload the vegetable truck that was parked in the lane. Nearly every day for months while unloading I saw a little old woman walk past the truck and look up at me. She only wore an old army coat buttoned up and slip-on shoes, and had hair like Albert Einstein.
This particular morning she approached me and quietly asked me if I could spare $2, and said that her mother was in hospital and needed money for a taxi to visit her. I knew it wasn't for that, but I decided to give it to her anyway. When I went into the shop to get my wallet, my boss saw me and said that I was silly to waste my money on an ‘old drunk’. I politely told him to mind his own business and went back out.
The woman was standing there looking like she needed a drink, and hoping for the $2. I quietly put $5 in her hand, and said to her that I knew that she was going to spend it on alcohol, but with the other $3 could she please get herself something to eat. She started to cry. She put her head on my chest and just clung to me sobbing uncontrollably. I wasn't sure what to do so I just put my arms around her and comforted her, then assured her that it was alright. She quietly turned around and went her way, I never saw her again.
I didn't think that much of the incident and went back to work thinking I wished I could have given her more, but $5 was all I had.
That night I had a dream, it was no ordinary dream. This one was in 'technicolour', with amazing detail, so clear that I can still
remember it today, 32 years later.
In the dream I was in the presence of my mother, she was sitting on a step reading a book, she was not aware of me. All around us was dark, she was sitting in the light, I could study her closely as she was engrossed in her book. I studied her hair, her skin, her eyes. She seemed so real that I wanted to reach out and touch her, but I didn't, I just stood there for a long time looking at her with my heart full of joy.
When I woke up I had a very real sense of having been with her, feeling all the emotions that I would have, it was almost life-like. It was very powerful. Even today the memory of my mother in that dream is more real to me than all the photos that I have of her. I believe that the dream was given to me as a reward for helping the old lady that day. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

Anonymous said...

I really like your comment, Matt! There's something about a woman in need that pulls at the heartstrings. Like you said, it doesn't matter what the "need" really is. The resultant blessing that is being played out is in the demonstation of a loving act. THAT is what will change a life!

Cathy C.

Steve said...

Thank you, Matt. Your story pulled at my heartstrings and tears. Steve

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Matt. Beautiful--

LDSDPer

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cathy C.--for your wise words and for validating JewelFox. I, too, felt that I hadn't quite understood JewelFox, and it had troubled me.

But your words were concise and accurate; I've been praying for JewelFox--


Anonymous said...

Brother Peifer,

I'm going to share your experience with my husband; our situation is very similar--

underemployment for many years does drain a person financially and emotionally and socially (after long terms of unemployment)--

we haven't found the government system to be any kind of reliable help--

we even made a desperate attempt at getting some medical help for our children at one point, were denied and ended up giving out WAY too much information about our family, which wasn't wise in our case (since we have special needs children and one for whom we must carry a passport at all times)--

I've been wary of 'government' help ever since, and we've managed without. The hardest thing for us was that we never asked for church help, though many times we could have used it--because even when we didn't get help from the ward and were even contributing tiny fast offerings--
we were treated like leaches and sponges and looked on with disdain and contempt--

It has been a very hard experience, but we have learned MUCH. What we have learned is that the Book of Mormon is our best friend (besides Jesus, of course)--

LDSDPer

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this--

though I don't like his book on Joseph Smith--

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=2&num=1&id=24

LDSDPer--

for some reason Brother Compton really hit the nail on the head--

Matt said...

I love the comments here, they are what life is all about. It's funny how $5 keeps popping up in posts. I was sitting in the Launceston mall the other day while my wife was in a shop. There was a busker there playing his guitar, he was unshaven and scruffy and was playing some mournful Bob Dylan songs and singing in a husky voice. Once again I only had $5 in my wallet so I went over and put the $5 note in his hat on the ground and gave him a smile. He smiled back at me, then I resumed my seat on the bench nearby. He then started singing 'I can see clearly now the rain is gone' - one of my old favorites. I thought it was funny how the tone of his music improved with that $5. A small price to pay to bring some cheer to someone.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

So many readers have lovingly responded to our friend JewelFox that I felt my own response would probably be redundant. But I do
feel to clarify some of her misconceptions about my piece. I had a concern that someone might misread my intent, and it seems she
has.

JewelFox, there were a few things you wrote that were just plain confusing to me (something about my respecting your mom's right
to let her transgendered daughter die, for instance). But I am able to address some of the things I believe you have misjudged me
on.

From your tone, I gather you think I see myself as some benevolent benefactor blithely passing out five dollar bills to the
downtrodden masses in order to gain some favor with the angels. You also accuse me of ignoring the invisible poor, such as
yourself, I gather.

As Connie pointed out above, there are all kinds of ways we can all serve others. For the purposes of this already lengthy piece,
I focused my example on those who stand on the corner and ask for alms, because most of us are guilty of ignoring and passing by
those who God has placed directly in our path. Of course there are many others in need, and many ways to serve them, also.

I mentioned, for example, that I need look no further than my own doorway to find opportunities to assist. That assistance does not always take the form of cash handouts, but sometimes it does. There are many ways we as neighbors can pull together. The important thing is that we understand we have each other's backs.

You misunderstood my meaning when you took my words out of context regarding delivering myself out of poverty. If I am out of
poverty now, I haven't noticed it. What I was getting at was that I realized that no matter how bad I have it, I can always do a
little something for someone else. My fear had led to my being extraordinarily selfish, and since setting my fears aside (the main fear being "how will I eat if I give my grocery money to others?"), I now manage to somehow get through the month without
panicking.

The way this often manifests for me and Connie (lending a hand to others)is that we learn to get by with less sometimes. Instead
of salads we may eat more cereal, or we skip the fast food meals we might have treated ourselves to in order to provide a fast
food meal for someone else. My point was that when we offer some of our sustenance to those in greater immediate need than ourselves, and do so with a loving heart, Connie and I always seem to get by. We don't starve, as I used to fear we might.

What little bit of money we are able to disburse to others does not come from some magic windfall we have at our disposal; it generally comes directly out of the money we have set aside each month for our own groceries, gas, and other sundry needs. I believe I noted that God somehow manages to see us through when we pay some attention to the needs of others. I did not say we were prospering. I regret if I conveyed the idea that I was coming from a place of arrogance and superiority, as if I were some smug millionaire handing out twenties to "the little people" on the street.

It was not my intention to delineate all the ways a person can help his brothers and sisters; I would think folks can figure that
out on their own. There are some things we can all do that don't require a monetary outlay. Since I don't have a lot of money,
one of the ways I have found to serve is by assisting at a downtown church twice a month with a program they have set up to provide warm meals for the homeless. In that venue, someone else has provided the food, I'm just there to help serve it.

You may be able to find a similar program near where you live, so even if you haven't much in the way of money, you can still do something good for someone else without any outlay except your time.

(Continued below.)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(JewelFox Continued)

You misquote me as saying "the government can't solve our problems."

What I said was "the government won't SAVE us," and read in context you will recall that this was in reference to the unavoidable devaluation of the dollar that is certain to occur within the next few years. When the inevitable happens, the government will not be ABLE to save us, and it has nothing to do with who won or lost the last election. The problem is systemic, and has been building for decades. Many, many financial experts don't believe we can dodge this bullet, and arguing party politics in this matter is a waste of time.

Quite recently, noted commodities trader Ann Barnhardt gave a presentation explaining why this juggernaut is unstoppable. It's titled "The Economy Is Going To Implode-And You Deserve To Understand Why."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WraPInMTGwU

Settle in, because it's a two and a half hour presentation, but if you wish to take the blinders off, I recommend you devote the time.

If you want some shorter analyses, There are plenty of other experts who, unlike the paid network and corporate shills, will tell you the truth about what is about to happen to you. While on Youtube, search the names Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente, Max Kiser, the late Bob Chapman, and our own Joel Skousen, for starters. Take a look over at LewRockwell.com and scan the articles.

Even now those receiving food stamp assistance are finding those coupons are not buying the same amount of groceries they did last month or the month previous, and this before hyperinflation is even under way.

Those dependent upon government aid may continue to receive their checks in the mail, they just won't buy nearly as much as they used to. This has nothing to do with whether you believe socialism is working in other countries. The system cannot sustain itself indefinitely, we appear to be approaching the tipping point.

I repeat: the government won't save us. It will not be able to.

You accuse me of insulting people like you, JewelFox, which puzzles me. I AM people like you. From your letter I deduce you have had some very difficult times; so have I. But from the tone of your letter I also gather you see me as in league with your oppressors.

The lesson I had hoped to convey in my post was that even if we have nothing of monetary substance to give to someone else, we can still offer love and encouragement. We can still offer a smile and a good word. Money is helpful, but it's not the only thing. Look outward, Angel.

Anonymous said...

We аbѕolutely lоve уour blog and fіnd mοѕt of your post's to be precisely what I'm looking for.
Do you offer guest wгitеrs to wгite cоntent аvailablе
fоr you? I wоuldn't mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web log!

https://twitter.com/i80equip
Feel free to visit my webpage - bucket truck sales

kerri said...

To add my timely bit of testimony of FAITH and LOVE, I will be brief. In early October my 5-yr-old had a unique and critical accident at the factory my husband owns & operates (visiting daddy at work, his favorite thing). He had to be life-flighted from our nearest hospital to a children's hospital and no medical professionals had any logical hope of our son surviving. Even the flight, let alone this once-in-history emergency surgery. I had lots of thoughts drift through my mind, constantly praying, and sometime during the surgery I remembered words about faith from the Savior. So many. And I decided that logic (and really worry/fear) be damned (excuse the phrase), I was going to believe that we would receive the miracle we wanted. It was transformative. Long story short, our son was completely, COMPLETELY restored. But MORE THAN THIS, I came to see & feel (over the three weeks in the hospital) the absolute LOVE that was directed to our family, mostly through prayer, and by thousands of people all over the world, most of whom didn't know my family at all. I learned a precious lesson about us all truly being brothers and sisters and love being our connection to each other, if we'll just let it. I came home from the hospital feeling we were blessed much more than what the trauma was, and despite the looming $250,000 in medical bills, as we are uninsured. I could not doubt that God would continue to provide, as we continue to believe (and be generous). And so He has.
I have to also say that November was, for me, a much more difficult month than October. I think because those prayers stopped. But also because I have not found ways to express this new understanding of love, and of faith.
I found this blog via link to a many years' earlier post and have since read many posts, but only today read this one, which I feel is so confirming and reassuring to me at this time of "dip" after a "high". Thank you, and bless you & your dear wife!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thank you, Kerri! That is an astounding miracle -and so recent, too. God bless you back.

weston krogstadt said...

Blcoked?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Weston, you have not been blocked. Whenever the total comments on a piece exceeds 200, it turns a page. Look for the instruction "Load More" right under the last comment; that'll get you to the additional comments under my piece on Tithing where you will find your little masterpiece posted for all the world to see.

weston krogstadt said...

You know you love my inriguing comments. Who else would read your tasteless blog if I didn't show up once in a while to spice things up a bit? Maybe next time I will post a picture of myself shirtless. That will really get you some hits.

JR said...

What am I doing wrong? Even though we don't have enough for us we still help others. Do I not have enough faith? If so how do I get the faith and exercise it? I really want to know. We have always been loaded down with medical bills. We have sacrificed to help family and never got anything in return and never expected it (except grief and ill will). We do everything we are supposed to do and yet the universe is always working against us. Years ago we asked for church help and were treated badly so I won't ever ask again. The debt started when we lost our second born after 6 years of marriage and barely starting a new job. Our portion to pay was over $200,000.00 plus funeral expenses. No help from family or anyone. Never recovered from it. We are are having major health issues and have major medical debt now, and helping our ill uninsured child get the help he needs. We rescue abused animals, help others, let my husband's family take advantage of us (about to cause us a divorce), etc. I know there are people worse off than me. But for once I would like a little help so I can take care of my kids and meet their needs, which we can't right now. What do I need to do to open the blessings we so desperately need? I don't help others and do what I do to expect blessings, I do it because my conscious won't let me do otherwise. I'm a softie and want to help everyone. But now my family needs help. I am very tired of everything working against us no matter what we do.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

JR, I have no easy answers why bad things happen to good people, but I did read this comment to Connie and she would like to talk with you. Please email me with your phone number and Connie will call you on Saturday or Sunday.

RockWaterman@gmail.com

weston krogstadt said...

Hang in there JR. This world is a tough tough place. No matter how many Sunday School Lessons you sit through that teach about the blessings the Lord gives you for doing good works, the bottom line is: The Lord throws His children under the bus all the time. He has thrown me under the bus so many times I don't even keep track any more. But I am also able to pull myslef out every time. Don't give up, be a fighter. Look at the animal world our Lord has created, the ones who fight survive. Keep fighting, and don't stop praying, and you will pull through.

Play angry Birds said...

Very nice stuff..

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Weston, it's nice to see you have some compassion under that rough persona of yours.

I do differ with you on one point, however. It is not God who throws us under the bus. He does not work against us. Call it life, fate, or simply the vicissitudes of life, but it isn't God. God is there to give us love and comfort when life throws its worst at it. But God is not the one throwing the curves.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Still waiting to hear from you, JR.

weston krogstadt said...

I understand what you're saying Rock, but unfortunately God is not always there for us when we need him. I believe we need to teach this more often in Church. In several scripture our church uses, God tells us if we ask in faith, we will receive. Tell that to the guy being tortured to death in a Viet Cong prison camp, who screams out, "God smite them dead!" Or the father who prays and weeps and prays and weeps over a sick child, a child who later dies. God is NOT always there for us, no matter how much "faith" we have, this is a fact of life we need to talk about more often, but nobody has the balls to say it.

Gary Hunt said...

Weston:

I agree with you. I think most of us have been taught that if we do this, that and the other thing, in other words obey all the rules our leaders teach us, that we would be blessed beyond our wildest dreams. The fact is that there are no guarantees in life except "death and taxes."

On my mission when things were not going well we would tell each other, "keep going Elder, you will be blessed, maybe not in this life but in the next." It became kind of a joke. You know, something to say to keep our sanity.

One thought which comes to mind is that maybe we, as a Church, are looking back to the Garden of Eden as the ideal and not looking forward to returning to live with God.

Thanks for your comments.

weston krogstadt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
weston krogstadt said...

Thanks Gary. I agree with your Garden of Eden idea. We need to remember we are not on the same plane of existence as God is or as we were in the Garden of Eden. Where I come from, if you promise to help someone but don't help them when they need you the most, you have thrown them under the bus. However my ways are not God's ways. Thanks again.

Gary Hunt said...

The Garden of Eden idea came from a protestant minister who's article I read. It made me really think about my attitude about life. I agree that if we promise to help someone in need and don't, we allow the to suffer and in a sense we throw ourselves "under the bus"- in the long run of course.

I read a story by a lady who had gone through a lot of trials in her life. She had been betrayed by about everyone in her life and became very bitter. She did not like how she felt so she prayed to the Lord for help and He helped her come to an understanding that helped her heal from the pain of life's vicissitudes (being thrown under the bus). The thing that stuck out to me the most was when she said that we all have to walk the path of life under our own power, but that when we see someone stumble and fall we can help the get up so that they can continue their journey. She realized that she couldn't and shouldn't carry them - that is Christ's job - but could and should help them get up.

Scott Shepherd said...

Incredible! Very inspiring, Rock! The detail you provide in your blog just gives me a great sense of the amount of Love you have for others and the amount of Faith you have gained in trusting God to bless you and keep you and protect you. You have inspired me to be a better person. I have been reading many of your posts and I agree with most everything you have shared. Thank you so much for your inspiring Guidance. I pray that our Father may continue to bless you in your faith. When you talked about your Baptism by Fire, I could feel it. I know what that is like. It is very real. I hope that I can follow your example and do more good works.

Here is one of my favorite verses from the Book of Mormon: Mosiah 5:15: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/5.15?lang=eng

"Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen."

God bless.

Scott

Scott Shepherd said...

Here, I found this link to a copy of the Lectures on Faith. You can read it online, or download a PDF, or get an ebook: Click

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thank you for the kind words and heartfelt blessing,Scott.

LCHoff said...

The change of the name from Book of Commandments to Doctrine and Covenants reflected a change in the contents of the book. The Book of Commandments contained only revelations. The Doctrine and Covenants contained the “Lectures on Faith”—seven theological treatises—in the first part, which was titled “On the Doctrine of the Church of the Latter-day Saints”; and the revelations, or “PART SECOND, Covenants and Commandments” in the second part. The title, “Doctrine and Covenants,” probably came from the titles of the two parts of the book. In 1921 the “Lectures on Faith” were removed from the Doctrine and Covenants, “not because they were called in question, for they are excellent lectures of great value on the the principles of faith, but because they were not revelations.” (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1957, p. xvii.) http://www.lds.org/ensign/1984/12/the-story-of-the-doctrine-and-covenants?lang=eng

Rixa said...

I know I'm late to the party, but your post touched me so much that I wanted to comment. (I've been reading through lots of your older posts for fun, hence the late comment).

I love what you said about giving to the poor/needy being an act of love that we do eagerly, not to "get blessings." Not because we "should," but because it's a natural outgrowth of Christian love. Anyway we had the opportunity to invite a family of 10 to stay with us for several months over this last winter. We didn't know them beforehand...they had taken all of their 8 children out of school and traveled all around the country having a grand adventure and somehow squeaking by. They stopped for several weeks in our little town because the dad had served a mission here 25+ years ago. They were living in a campground. I heard through the Mormon grapevine that there was a family living in a campground and I wanted to meet them. So I brought some bread and showed up unannounced and started chatting. We invited their family over for dinner a few times.

A few weeks passed by. WE continued to have them over for dinner, etc. We really liked them and enjoyed their company. So when the weather turned quite cold (near the end of October) we invited them to move in with us (our own family has 4 little kids) making 16 people in one house. They stayed for a bit over 3 months...basically all during the Winter Of Eternal Horribleness aka the Never-Ending Polar Vortex.

Sure, sometimes I got a bit overwhelmed by all the people and noise in the house. Sometimes I just wanted my house back to myself. (This happens even when my own family are visiting!) But overall it was a really fantastic experience, and I feel that we benefited from having this lovely family as much as they did from us. The mother was an intensely spiritual woman, a healer and visionary. We had many deep discussions, and she shared what she had learned about communicating with God and with angles and about healing and working miracles.

Anyway, this is a really long-winded way of saying: helping the poor/needy ideally won't be where you think of yourself as "such a good person to be helping the less fortunate" (patting self on the back) but one in which you are both enriched from the exchange.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Wow, Rixa, I'm really impressed that you put yourself out there like that. And you have us beat by a mile. We once took in a family we found standing outside a Taco Bell in unbearable heat with all their luggage lying at their feet.

Seems they had been traveling out from the east with another couple, and that couple was arrested here in Sacramento on some warrant. The car was impounded, and that left this couple with their three young kids stranded in Sacramento with no money and no way to get home.

They were drinking from cups of ice water they had obtained from inside Taco Bell, but were hungry, hot, and tired.

Anyway, we weren't that well off ourselves, but we packed them all into the car and took them home so they could shower, eat, and rest for a week or so. Then when they were able, we drove them to a better freeway location and left them with more food and a little money and sent them off with prayers.

We heard from them after they got back home, and were grateful they made it okay. We couldn't do as much for them as they deserved, but at least we got them off the street until the heat wave passed.

Anyway, your story is inspiring, and you're right; we always benefit from these friendships. The rewards of becoming acquainted with those who might have been strangers is a great reward.

One day I'll tell about the guy I picked up in a blizzard and took home with me who we're pretty sure turned out to be an angel.

Minerals Liberia said...

Maybe love is not always about giving people what they physically need or want....but about teaching eternal spiritual truths. Jesus said that the "Poor" will always be with us but will the Son of man?

Sully Sullivan said...

Wow. This is such a moving post!!!! I felt the Spirit sooo strongly and felt so edified and I too felt the desire to do good and to do as Jesus would do.
Never stop blogging Rock!
The words God gives to you touch many people, even here in New Zealand