Sunday, February 3, 2019


Before entering the seventh grade at Washington Junior High School, my sports of choice had been kick ball and tetherball which I prided myself on being among the best at Lincoln Elementary School.

When I entered Junior High it became apparent that those sports would no longer make the A list of sports if I was going to be involved in the sports in this new phase of my life. The A list in those long ago days consisted of the sports of football, baseball and basketball which up to that part of my boyhood had not occupied much if any of my time.

Since the first season of the school year was basketball I asked my wonderful father to fashion a backboard and secure it to the front of the garage and fasten an adequate but shaky hoop to it. And my basketball days started.

I practiced layups for hours on that makeshift but adequate equipment until the dimples on my first rubber basketball were worn smooth.

When I went out for tryouts, which was an interesting term since nobody was ever cut by coach Hill, I made my first layup and was immediately called to the side by coach. He asked me if I realized I was doing my layup off the wrong foot, that you should always leave the ground with the foot opposite of the hand I was using to shoot the ball. Years of coaching and many coaches later I felt like I became pretty proficient as a basketball player at Garden Grove Union High School.

When I tried out for the varsity basketball team, which I made, and learned the new ability of being a bench sitter it became apparent that since I hadn’t been blessed with the height of some or the long arms of others or a myriad of other physical abilities it would be a good idea to abandon my dream of becoming a college and even more so a professional basketball player. No matter how much help I received nor how much effort I put into basketball my 5’8” height would always limit my success.

In the same way, my dream of excelling in baseball ended up with pretty good success as a fast pitch softball player, my dream of excelling in football ended with the ligaments being torn in my ankle and any vision of being the amazing swimmer or diver in the group was quashed by a ruptured eardrum and so it was. The thought that volleyball and golf would become the activities which occupied most of my sports participation time during my life had not even entered my mind during those years.

It has become apparent during my life that most things in which we are moved to participate during our lives in some way follow a pattern of: first, gaining a desire to be involved, second, entering the neophyte stumbling period of trying on our own, third, receiving and hearkening to the mentors who come into our life and fourth, having the eternal attributes bestowed upon you wherein the blessings become you.

As I have thought about how this formula applies to the real purpose of our mortal probationary plan, that being putting on the attributes, characteristics and perfections of our Heavenly Father, it quickly becomes apparent that we usually follow a similar pattern in developing any area of our lives.

1 – 2. Most of us stumble along in the first two phases being tossed to and fro testing ideas good and not so good, while making very little headway, as if we were shooting layups off the wrong foot.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3: 19)

What natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. (Alma 26: 21)

Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost! Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2 Nephi 28: 26, 27, 31)

3. When we finally realize the wisdom in being mentored by coaches (parents – professors – prophets) we find our progress quickens.

That cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. (2 Nephi 9: 28)

Since library shelves are filled with books containing the mentoring words of men’s thoughts and prophetic utterances, none of us will but dip our toes in the ocean of counsel we received which comes both from inspiration and wisdom of men.

An example of a brief bit of inspired teachings from King Benjamin’s address, which when searched will demand hours of diligence to give them permanence in our beings:

And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God. And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. (Mosiah 5: 5-7)

And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also. And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4: 26-30)

4. It seems the reason so many of us fall short (no pun intended) in our quest of putting on the Characteristics, Attributes and Perfections obtainable to men is because we think that we have the power to add stature to ourselves or are capable of stretching our legs or arms.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)

And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.

And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
(Mosiah 5: 1-3)

If we are to maximize our precious moments of mortality, it becomes apparent that besides stumbling along our own perceived paths, we need to allow ourselves to be led by those who are standing on higher vantage points and we need to understand in the end any permanent acquisition of the Characteristics, Attributes and Perfections of Godliness will become ours not because of what we have done, but because through the love, mercy and power of God they have been wrought upon us.



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