Sunday, May 4, 2014


Most, if not all of us are acquainted with the delightful adventures of Alice in Wonderland. We have read about her explorations, we have viewed them as cartoon characters and seen them come to life on both the big and little screens. Take just a moment and revisit with me one of the characters Alice came across during her wondrous adventure.

ALICE: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?
CAT: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
ALICE: I don’t much care.
CAT: Then it doesn't much matter which way you walk.
ALICE: So long as I get somewhere.
CAT: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long enough.

As Lewis Carroll so startlingly brought to our remembrance, there are a mass of us living in our own wonderlands who find their current situations a result of chance, having walked the path of fate. This ‘just keep on walking,’ which will lead to that ‘somewhere’ attitude, seems to be prevalent in all of the social strata of the world. We find people bounced hither and thither by fate on every level of the economic, educational and social ladders. Likewise, we find them in every nation and among every race and creed.

One of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss was also aware of the abundant part of the earth’s inhabitants who are adherents of the ‘succumbed to what fate does to me’ cult. His understanding of this phenomenon is expressed in his delightful poem about the Zode who stood in the middle of the road.

The Zode in the Road

Did I ever tell you about the young Zode,
Who came to two signs at the fork in the road?
One said to Place One, and the other, Place Two.
So the Zode had to make up his mind what to do.
Well…the Zode scratched his head, and his chin and his pants.
And he said to himself, “I’ll be taking a chance
If I go to Place One. Now, that place may be hot!
And so, how do I know if I’ll like it or not?
On the other hand though, I’ll be sort of a fool
If I go to Place Two and find it too cool.
In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue!
So, maybe Place One is the best, not Place Two,
But then again, what if Place One is too high?
I may catch a terrible earache and die!
So Place Two may be best! On the other hand though…
What might happen to me if Place Two is too low?
I might get some very strange pain in my toe!
So Place One may be best,” and he started to go.
Then he stopped, and he said, “On the other hand
On the other hand…other hand…other hand though…”
And for 36 hours and a half that poor Zode
Made starts and made stops at the fork in the road.
Saying, “Don’t take a chance. No! You may not be
Then he got an idea that was wonderfully bright!
“Play safe!” cried the Zode. “I’ll play safe. I’m no dunce!
I’ll simply start out for both places at once!”
And that’s how the Zode who would not take a chance
Got no place at all with a split in his pants.

From my own personal observations, it seems that the most joyful among us are not those who have resigned themselves to whatever fate might be impose upon them, but are those who have faith in a master plan, designed by God, which they deliberately and consistently strive to understand and follow.

Just a few random thoughts about coming to understand the plan of faith and putting it into practice rather than being tossed to and fro as a victim of fate:

First: We all need to conduct frequent and searching personal introspections. Not trusting alone on our mother’s version of how wonderful we are, but with candidness throw off those fantasies and view ourselves as we really are with all our scars and imperfections.

We might ask ourselves:

Have the paths I have trod led me to greater happiness?

Are there things which I could change which would result in me being more joyful?

What abilities do I have which could be used to bring greater happiness to those who surround me?

Second: I must strive to remove the shackles of the past, whether those bonds are shiny or dim, living in past glories or failures will stymie my ability to face today and determine the path my future will take.

We must remember:

Memories of the past are wonderful and instructive as long as we never allow them to cause us to stagnate in the present and alter our ability to find happiness in the future.

Life’s passages should be used as building blocks and never allowed to become anchors or chains which will hamper our growth.

Memories which bring happiness and give me a desire to do better should always have precedence over memories which bring sorrow and stifle progress.

Third: I must become determined that I will never arrive at a level of comfortableness where I feel I have finished growing and coming to an understanding of life’s purposes.

As a reminder:

Our progress demands stretching our limits and being willing to move outside our current imagined boundaries.
Being in a rut is the same as being in a grave with both ends knocked out.

It is only through the vision of faith that we will be able to make choices which will allow us to see beyond the horizon and put us on paths which will bring us to a higher state of happiness.

Finally: We need to organize our lives so that in all our doing we will set apart time for designing patterns which will help us move closer to our full potential.

Truths discovered:

A task well planned will save hours of frustration, retracing and correcting false starts.
Happiness is a result of foresight not hindsight.

Flying by the seat of ones pants will invariably lead us to undesirable results.

We are living beings, and all living things which cease to grow will eventually die. One of the saddest things we witness in life is to witness one who has through despair or discouragement, thrown in the towel and died in spirit while their bodies continue to function.

May the Lord bless us that we might realize:

This life was designed as a place for growth.

Real growth is based on faith in the Master’s plan and not left to whatever fate might greet us at the end of each path we chance to take.

Our true happiness in this life and the next depends on our being about the business of understanding that plan, and through it, becoming all that we possibly can become.


  1. Muchas gracias por sus pensamientos.....deseo que estén muy bien...un gran saludo y abrazo....bye....en la foto falta nuestro hijo mayor (jeffrey) encuentra en la Mision mexico-guadalajara este...

    J. Ramirez

  2. Excelente manera de señalizar un sendero que se sabe cuál es el resultado.


    Alex Ospina

  3. Dear Brother Riley, Your message came at just the right time.

    I have been back in New Jersey, caring for my son, Sean, who became quadriplegic as a result of a car accident in January. He is now stable enough to return to his home in San Clemente, and we will fly back tomorrow.

    I often find this situation overwhelming. If I'm not on the phone fighting the insurance company, I'm doing my best to figure out the ins and the outs of medical supplies, prescription drugs, hooking the wheelchair into the van, etc. His dear wife cannot be with him because she is pregnant with twins due in two months. And here, I truly thought that I'd enjoy retirement and travels, but guess my travels are to be a journey of within.

    I question if I am up for this journey. Then I read your dear message and am reminded that with The Lord's help, I and He can accomplish anything of worth. Thank you for reminding me that real growth is dependent on faith in Heavenly Father's plan. When I get down, I know that I can return to read insights from you and be bolstered for the next hour, maybe even for the next day. Definitely, this struggle for our family is a painful growth. How blessed I am to have your counsel to help me maneuver through its many turns.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Bonnie Lynn

  4. Thankyou Bill and Kathleen............always love your THOUGHTS..

    RENEE Lehman

  5. Timely thoughts-Thank you!

    Jay Lawrence

  6. I guess because of my kindergarten mentality sometimes the thoughts are a little above me. Thank you for sending this thought that made the principle so easy to understand and such a fun way to learn. I really appreciate you.

    Rosemary Mitchell

  7. Bill,
    This was edifying and bordering on poetic. (not speaking about Seuss's rhymes). I think I agree with everything.
    A couple of comments, observations for your entertainment:
    "but are those who have faith in a master plan, designed by God, which they deliberately and consistently strive to understand and follow"

    The path that I'm on was set out there by God,
    So down it I go with a wink and a nod;
    But as I climb up it and problems do grow,
    I tend to look back and ask, how did I know?
    But best not to worry so onward I go
    A happier man for believing it so.

    Believing is less than knowing, although we too often deceive ourselves into believing that we know because we believe, or are very determined to believe.
    In terms of success in living, this can be a very useful coping mechanism. In many circumstances, I dare say most, honesty is NOT better, it's just more honest. So I can't really recommend it in general, yet I grieve that rationalization, self deception, is so important to us all for our personal health. :-(

    "This life was designed as a place for growth."

    As you and I approach our rainbow's end we realize as Hinkley said, "these golden years are lined with lead."
    But as the body continues to degenerate, we hope not the mind, (God forbid dementia), and we certainly perceive our spirits continuing to develop even unto the end.

    Your spirit soars,

    Paul Hansen

  8. Realmente inspirador me recuerda a una película que vi hace ya muchos años "RETROCEDER NUNCA RENDIRSE JAMÁS " en nuestro papel de la vida jamás debemos darnos por vencidos

    eulises lotero torres

  9. I know we need challenges, but I really prefer smooth sailing. The major examples you gave are great, and do give insight as to how different people mat those challenges. I am going to have read a couple of them again. It is interesting in how the Lord often blesses us -- as we overcome a challenge, we do not realize how big is was until it is overcome. Then we really can count our blessings as we know the Lord has helped us, and express our gratitude to Him.

    Jean Seavey

  10. And thanks to you both for presenting ideals that we need to think about frequently.

    Jean Seavey