Sunday, June 11, 2017


In the Thought for a Sabbath Day I posted on April 2, 2017, I mentioned that Kathleen and I been blessed with a tour of the Holy Lands as part of my employment with the Church Education System. I won't say this experience was dramatically life changing, but there will be forever engraven in my mind and in my heart the memories of the many wonders of the historical monuments of the world we were able to visit. As vibrant as the monument memories of those sights are, they cannot match the spiritual and emotional feelings that constantly hover in my heart and soul.

In Rome, I tried very hard to feel what Michelangelo might have felt as he accomplished the works which would have taken several normal life times to complete. We were left to wonder, why would someone be gifted and have the fortitude to use their time, talents and resources to build St. Peters Cathedral, paint the Sistine Chapel along with other works in the Vatican, sculpt all those marvelous marble creations, come up with all those inventions, paint enough art work to fill a museum along with all the other contributions he gifted to mankind?

Although few of Heavenly Father’s children have been able to generate the kind of consuming dedication that he demonstrated and I certainly count myself among this group of underachievers, I do remember leaving Rome with the feeling that I was certainly capable of accomplishing much more than I had in the past.

While we were in Egypt I spent most of the time being overwhelmed. I was constantly amazed that men could be so convinced of their own self-worth that they could move entire nations to dedicate themselves to the construction of a worthy final resting place, ignoring the cost of suffering and expenditures of life required to make sure their remains were secure. It is difficult to conceive how any mortal can convince themselves of their self-importance to the degree that they would be able to justify building massive pyramids and monumental replicas of themselves to be displayed for all to admire and even worship.

It is little wonder that the Lord has warned us of the ultimate degree of pride, where we make ourselves gods. Whenever the green goblin of false pride starts to color my countenance I worry about being afflicted with false pride and that I need to be diligent in trying to keep my ego in balance. Strangely, since those days of walking in the sands of Egypt most of the time when I have my picture taken I feel just a little bit Pharoah-ish.

In Jordan it was easy to be amazed at the ingenuity and determination of mortals. Wandering through the valley of Petra we witnessed the leavings of a civilization which inventively took their available resources and created a beautiful city. It filled us with excitement when we entered into those great halls carved out of solid rock. Not only did they use their resources to the greatest extent, but they ended up with dwelling places which had tremendously thick walls which kept them cool from the heat of the desert’s summer and warm in the winter.

It made me tingle to think that I belonged to the same eternal heritage as this people who did not just subsist in their environment, but in most cases made vast improvements which improved life for the entire community. It was hard to leave Petra without a feeling of added responsibility and accountability to make sure in the stewardships which would be bestowed upon me, a necessity to magnify and improve whatever my surroundings might be so that the lives of other’s would be more comfortable and improved.

While we were in Israel I was constantly aware of the mixed feelings and thoughts I was having in my heart and in my mind.

Since reason, blessings and research remind me that I am a descendent of the ancients who lived in and loved this land, there were times when I had a great sense of having returned home. I’ll never forget the feelings which surged through my being, as I sat on the banks of the Galilee near where the Jordan River begins to flow. In those few moments I was filled with the sense that I had never felt more at home in my life.

A different feeling came to me several places while we were in Israel, but most powerfully when we visited the museum dedicated to the Holocaust. My soul was filled with grief and sorrow to a greater degree than I can remember before or since. I grieved for the many acts of man’s inhumanity to man. I sorrow for the depth of inhumanity the children of God are capable of.

In contrasting the two feelings which seemed to control my entire being for a time, I knew I most desired those I felt on the banks of the Galilee far more than those I felt in the Museum of the Holocaust.

I was probably less than honest when I said in the opening paragraph of this Thought that this Holy Land trip was not life changing. Because from that day until now:

Whenever I do a self-evaluation I never score anywhere near 100% when I measure my working to the fullness of my capacity

Whenever I do a self-evaluation I never score anywhere near 100% when I measure how well I have been able to keep my ego in check

Whenever I do a self-evaluation I never score anywhere near 100% when I measure how much better the lives of others are because of the way I have served in my stewardships

Whenever I do a self-evaluation I score nearer 100% when I measure having a life filled with Galilee feelings and void of Museum of the Holocaust feelings than any of the other lessons learned on that memorable trip

We don't have to travel across the globe to have our lives filled with lessons we need to learn and apply, but I am convinced, wherever we are the more we daily seek these lessons and dedicate ourselves to applying them, the better chance we will have of making our time on earth fulfilling and successful.


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