Sunday, March 20, 2016


Even though I felt that I had adequately prepared for my Master’s Degree Oral Exam, whether it was anxiety or the prestigious esteem I held for those who were sitting around the table, when they started asking me about authors and books which I had read for the courses which I had taken, I had a sudden brain drain and had great difficulty connecting any of the neurons necessary to answer intelligently. After the execution (examination) Truman Madsen (the chairperson of the board) kindly informed me I had passed, but quickly added it would probably be best if I didn't put my family through any further seeking of degrees. He easily could have said, anyone who can't remember the author of ‘Jesus the Christ’ would be making a big mistake trying to seek any further degrees.

As a young man who had just recently returned from his mission in Northern Mexico, I had set a goal of getting a Doctorate Degree. When the opportunity was presented a few years later, I jumped into the educational fray with my family in tow. Kathleen was especially included in the adventure, since she had long ago become the editor, typist and organizer of all previous attempts I had made in pursuit of my educational goals. There would also be sacrifice of father time for the six young children who by this time blessed our home. Ignoring Brother Madsen’s counsel we blindly and boldly plunged ahead.

The three years of course work, special projects, papers, exams and dissertation writing passed rapidly and suddenly the appointment for my Doctoral Oral Exam was in stone. I didn't know whether the calmness I felt as I entered the room was due to the water which had passed under my bridge since I received my Master’s Degree or that the panel was entirely made up of peers I had been working with during those early years of my career in the Church Education System. At any rate my calmness was the polar opposite of the anxiety I had felt during the previous Oral Exam experience.

The exam was opened with a prayer and then the first question was asked. To my delight they didn't begin asking me to connect books to authors, although I had diligently been preparing for this possibility with flash cards. The question was, ‘who do you believe has the ownership of children, parents or institutions.’ My answer came so quickly that I was sure a lengthy rebuttal would pursue, but instead we spent the required hours after that one question, reminiscing about our years together. Just to satisfy your curiosity, my answer was, ‘neither has ownership, but both have stewardship.’ I elaborated on that brief response for another five minutes, but there were no further questions.

As I have previously written in my Thoughts, I believe in the process of self-examination and, likewise, I am sure in most aspects of our live we are constantly being evaluated by others. Many times, whether we are examining internally or whether it is coming from some other source, much like my Master’s Degree Oral Examination the queries keep coming going deeper and deeper until we or others are satisfied that the extremes of our progress, understanding and knowledge have been reached.

I have been thinking that our ULTIMATE FINAL EXAM where our mortal progress will be measured will be more like my Doctoral Degree Oral Exam and have no resemblance to my Master’s Degree Oral Exam.

It is entirely possible that the Savoir gave us a hint of what the question on the exam will be when he replied to the query of which of the commandments was the greatest. We recall that his response to the lawyer who was examining him was, the first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds and then he quickly added that the second is like unto it, that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-39)

With all our anxiousness, with all our fear and trembling, it seems that as we stand before that FINAL BAR, there may well be but one two part question, ‘did you have loving relationships with the Lord your God and your neighbors.’ Warning, there could be a possible follow up question about who made our list of neighbors and how inclusive that list was.

John recorded in his Gospel the Savior teaching that we demonstrate our love for our Lord and God by keeping his commandments. (John 14:15) In the second chapter of his 1st Epistle, John also taught that we would know when we are keeping his commandments; first, because by so doing we would come to know Him and second, through keeping his commandments the love of God would be perfected in us.

John also helps us to understand how we demonstrate our love for our neighbors. Once again using the Saviors words, he recorded that we must love one another as He has loved us, and in this way we are to love one another. (John13:34, 35)

And oh how He loves us:

He feeds us when hungry

He binds up our wounds

He is the light of our lives

He finds us when we are lost

He guides us safely home

He is our Salvation and Redemption

Although I realize that all my meager efforts will never approach His magnificence, I pray that when I enter His presence for my ULTIMATE FINAL EXAM, my efforts will have been sufficient and that I will be able to answer with calmness, that indeed I love my Lord and God and my neighbor.

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