Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A laugh or two courtesy of a good Father.

Head on over to see my guest post on For the Love!

On Labor and Fairness.

I loved this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Of course the most circulated and humorous quote was that "envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!"  But the one that struck more of a chord with me this time was this one (emphasis added):

A second point I wish to take from this parable is the sorrowful mistake some could make if they were to forgo the receipt of their wages at the end of the day because they were preoccupied with perceived problems earlier in the day. It doesn’t say here that anyone threw his coin in the householder’s face and stormed off penniless, but I suppose one might have.
My beloved brothers and sisters, what happened in this story at 9:00 or noon or 3:00 is swept up in the grandeur of the universally generous payment at the end of the day. The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of earlier hours—real or imagined—fall away in the abundance of the final reward. Don’t dwell on old issues or grievances—not toward yourself nor your neighbor nor even, I might add, toward this true and living Church. The majesty of your life, of your neighbor’s life, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be made manifest at the last day, even if such majesty is not always recognized by everyone in the early going. So don’t hyperventilate about something that happened at 9:00 in the morning when the grace of God is trying to reward you at 6:00 in the evening—whatever your labor arrangements have been through the day.
We consume such precious emotional and spiritual capital clinging tenaciously to the memory of a discordant note we struck in a childhood piano recital, or something a spouse said or did 20 years ago that we are determined to hold over his or her head for another 20, or an incident in Church history that proved no more or less than that mortals will always struggle to measure up to the immortal hopes placed before them. Even if one of those grievances did not originate with you, it can end with you. And what a reward there will be for that contribution when the Lord of the vineyard looks you in the eye and accounts are settled at the end of our earthly day.
It is funny how much we as mortals dwell on so-called fairness in evaluating life and Deity. I know that God is just, but that doesn't always equate with our mortal perception of fairness. I really didn't want to have a c-section last week, but it ended up happening anyway. There is this part of me that wants to yell out "This isn't fair! Why do so many people have easy, perfect labors, and mine keep getting harder and more complicated?" But I really know better than that. First, fairness is always relative. Having a c-section is a big deal for me because, well, I am a wuss about needles and knives. But in the grand scheme of things, it is really a rather small inconvenience, especially considering the abundant life that I otherwise live. And second, as Elder Holland pointed out, we can't know and understand the majesty of our life's story as we are experiencing it; I don't know from how many catastrophes I have been rescued and how intricately the Lord's hand has been guiding me, I just trust that He knows and try to look forward faithfully. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Diversities of Operations

This is one of those spiritual gifts that doesn't get a lot of attention, probably because it's not really clear what it means. Here's Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig Ostler's take from Revelations of the Restoration, p. 366:

The diversity of gifts found in the community of Saints suggests that there are a host of tasks that need doing and a variety of ways in which they can be done. It is expected that all faithful Saints will labor in their callings, using the gifts that God has given them. For this reason people are called to serve in various capacities for a time when their gift or gifts are particularly needed. We find the apostle Paul saying, "I have planted, Apollos watered" (1 Corinthians 3:6), to which it might be added, another pruned, and still another harvested, each doing that for which he was best suited. Surely, this has been true with those men called to stand at the head of the Church. EAch has been endowed with the particular gifts needed during the time of his administration. The Prophet Joseph laid the foundation of this dispensation as no other man could. Yet, perhaps he would not have been Brigham's match in leading the Saints across the plains and colonizing the Great Basin. And so it has been with one prophet after another, each specially prepared to meet the challenges of that time for which he was called.

The "diversity of operations" could also be understood to embrace different ways particular gifts are manifest. The gift of healing, for instance, finds expression in one person's ability to administer healing herbs, the ability of another to heal through a priesthood blessing, and in still another the power to say, "Rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6). Indeed, we read of one who was healed simply by touching the hem of the Master's garment (Matthew 9:20-23).