Sunday, March 11, 2012


I have pondered, I do ponder and it seems for all foreseeable time in my future I will continue to ponder how we are to correctly incorporate the principles of prayer, faith and agency into our lives.

The first remembrance I have of struggling with the proper coordination of these principles came when as a 12 year old wanna-be very stubby basketball player I joined with my teammates and coach for a pre-game prayer and I heard the much more mature 14 year who was voice ask for a triumphant end to our efforts on the court that evening. It wasn’t what I would call real pondering, but the thought did cross my mind, why should the Lord favor us over the other team whose members were friends from school who attended the same church as we did. I know it must have had an effect on me because whenever I was asked to be voice in prayer before games I always asked that all would be safe and we would try to play in a sportsmanlike manner. I sadly have to report that the first part of the prayer was mostly answered, but the sportsmanlike thing was often tarnished by immature undisciplined quick tempered young minds.

The early process of dating next comes to mind as being a stimulus for causing me to query about the relationship of these principles. I remember a buddy telling me that before he called a girl to ask her out he offered a prayer that her heart would be softened and she would accept his invitation. By this time my ability to concentrate on a thought had expanded beyond the ‘crossing my mind’ stage, so I will say that if what I did wasn’t pondering it was at least deep wondering. I wondered if a young man fighting the rages of pimples could really exercise faith through prayer sufficient to subdue the agency of a beautiful young lady. I must admit I never did get that one resolved before I graduated from High School.

When I was serving my six months on active duty as an Army Reservist, I remember praying fervently that I might either find some relief from the training sergeant’s abuse or be given the strength to endure it. When a call came, after the third week of basic training, for a softball pitcher tryout for the Battle Group I was in, I was sure that the Lord had altered the universe just for me as I spent most of the remaining weeks of basic training folding napkins in the mess hall and pitching for the Battle Group in the base-wide tournament. I never really considered myself a conscientious objector of war, but I did pray that I would never be in a situation where I would have to take the life of another. When I was assigned to be trained as a clerk typist rather than advanced military training, once again I knew all the stars had been realigned to accommodate me and my desires. The events at Fort Ord, California have been the basis of many thoughts about how extensive the faith of our prayers works on the aligning of others’ lives to satisfy our personal desires.

When serving as a missionary in Mexico while still a very young man, I remember kneeling with my companion morning, noon and night pleading with the Lord to help us find those who were prepared to hear our message or give us the power to be instruments in convincing those who were willing to hear our words. I am not sure if it was a daily pondering, but as I recall it was a pretty continuous and serious pondering during this time. If not daily, almost daily, I struggled with how faithful prayers could influence the agency of the wonderful people of Mexico, and cause them to make the sacrifices which such a dramatic societal change would bring to their lives.

Upon returning home from my mission I had two influences heavily impact me. The first was the need to get as much education as possible and the second was to find someone who would enter into a covenant of eternal marriage with me. The first was easily resolved by enrolling in what was then called Santa Ana Junior College. The improper use of agency during my High School days and the realities of my economic situation limited my choices in the matter of where I would continue my advanced educational pursuits. By this time and because of the extensive pondering about the matter on my mission, I knew prayer would be futile in trying to soften the hearts of administrators of universities sufficient to overcome my insufficiencies. In the second matter however, there still lingered in my mind the possibility that my faith and prayers might be sufficient to overcome the qualms and trepidations which the young women I would be courting might have and their agency might be shifted in my favor.

I will add just one more experience to illustrate why the coming to an understanding of how prayer, faith and agency has occupied such an eminent place in my ponderings over the years. Not too long after Kathleen accepted my invitation of eternal marriage, our church softball team in Garden Grove, California, was on the brink of winning the Regional Softball Tournament and on our way to participate in the All Church Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. Kathleen and I used this as an excuse to take our first real vacation as a married couple with our very young son Cevin. As things turned out we lost the last game of the Regional Tournament. Kathleen and I decided we would take the vacation anyway. We had also planned to look into teaching Seminary as a full time job since we would be in Provo, Utah, where the administration offices of the Church Education System were located at the time. This vacation took place the summer after I had been teaching Early Morning Seminary in Southern California for the last four years. Summarizing the happenings of our vacation, we left Utah as employees of the Church Education System, with two weeks to return to Garden Grove, quit my job, sell our home, find a place to live near my first teaching assignment at the Kearns Junior High Seminary and begin our lives in a career which would occupy a large portion of the next 50 years of our lives. Interestingly, as I remember it, other than our normal prayers of gratitude and protection, I don’t remember asking for any special altering or softening of the minds and wills of others during that life altering week.


Sunday, March 4, 2012


One year as I was walking behind my rear-tined tiller while wondering about one of those annual on-again-off-again springs in Northern Nevada – and keeping an eye peeled on Mt. Peavine – I came to realize that gardening in Washoe County shares many characteristics with the principle of forgiveness. To start with, just like gardening in the Reno area, if conditions are not carefully adhered to, forgiveness can also turn out to be a futile exercise and very little will ever be gleaned from our efforts.

Just a few random thoughts on harvesting a fruitful result from practicing the principle of forgiveness:

We must always keep our attention attuned to the words, counsel and example of our Lord and Redeemer – with our eye single to the mountain of

His message, forever learning how to gauge the subtleties of his teachings.

If ones concentration is turned inward and they are sensitive to personal needs alone they will seldom make the essential first step needed to bring about the knitting of souls which happens as they receive the blessings which come from true forgiveness.

If appeasing is ones only effort, ever sensitive to the needs of others they may find themselves constantly emptying their reservoir of strength and never taking time to replace needed elements until, sadly, one day they find themselves void and unable to forgive again.

If one finds their life has become a continual exercise of avoidance and excusing they may soon find themselves hiding from the sometimes difficult journey of life, doing fewer and fewer of the activities they once enjoyed.

Like gardening, the successful practitioner of the principle of forgiveness may find that while they were exerting a great deal of time and effort in gaining an understanding of the art of forgiving, there were many residual benefits which resulted from their efforts.

Like so many gospel principles, forgiveness demands diligent awareness which if adhered to can result in many residual benefits, bearing unexpected fruit which is sweet and desirable.

If we are to find fruition from our efforts to forgive we must never weary– never mistaking the act of forgiving for the purpose of the exercise. We were not placed here to forgive a single trespass, but to gain a forgiving nature.

Forgiveness is never complete until hearts have been mended and souls have been knotted together again.

Forgetting must never be mistaken for forgiving – although real forgiveness will always demand a great deal of forgetting.

Many times neglecting the process of forgiveness causes self-soul-suffering – while I fester upon a trespass I may needlessly and endlessly suffer while he who made the offense has long ago gone merrily on his way.

As in all principles of enlightenment that person who sincerely puts forth the greatest effort will reap the greatest yield.

President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “Across the barren deserts of hate and greed and grudge in the beautiful valley of paradise, we read in the papers and hear on television constantly that the world ‘is in an awful mess.’ Not true! The world is still most beautiful. It is man who is off center.

The sun still illumines the day and gives light and life to all things. The moon still brightens the night. Oceans still feed the world and provide transportation. Rivers still drain the land and provide irrigation water to nourish crops. Even the ravages of time have not sloughed off the majesty of the mountains. Flowers still bloom and birds still sing and children still laugh and play. What is wrong with the world is man-made.”

“It can be done. Man can conquer self. Man can overcome. Man can forgive all who have trespassed against him and go on to receive peace in this life and Eternal Life in the world to come.”

With all the readings and preachings about forgiveness, eventually someone must dig the dirt and plant the seed – as I search the scriptures over and over again I find that that burden of that most difficult first step is placed on me.

If the labor of forgiveness is to bear fruit it is I who must begin to prepare the ground for an eventual fruitful yield.