Friday, January 4, 2013


This morning the West Texas landscape awoke to winter, actual honest to goodness winter, where nature had laid a very delicate lace scarf of snow over the dead grass. The skies are grey, the trees are barren and a dark damp. It is a day to listen to Pearl Jam, the melancholy stuff, and ponder a little on the parts of life that don’t seem to be going as well as they should. 

There is a part of human nature that is a constant struggle between what we know can be and what currently is. Many times the gulf between the two realities seems insurmountable and it feels as if there is no hope for ever reaching our goals. Whether it is career goal, a fitness goal, a spiritual goal, a health trial, a family problem or anything that we really want sometimes our efforts are inadequate and nothing seems to change no matter how hard we work and pray and ask for help.

I know that those of you who read this have seen miracles and blessings in your life. You’ve seen prayers answered both in the affirmative and negative and you know that God is there and that He loves you. You know in your heart of hearts that He has your best interests in His safekeeping. But what about the times when the heavens are silent? What about the moments that you ask for a particular blessing that you know is worthy and nothing happens? What about the stretches when you keep working and praying and doing everything you know how to do to call down the powers of heaven and they still don’t come? 

If you’re like me frustration ensues. Anger at the continued struggle starts to kick in, and the humility and meekness that we are asked to lay at the Savior’s feet starts to fly out the window. Even with all of our past blessings staring us in the face the doubts begin to creep up on us. Doesn’t He love me enough to answer? Why has he taken this trial from someone else and not me? Why can't I stop making the same stupid mistakes?

In a talk given at BYU in 1990 President Henry B. Eyering answered the question about how to call down the powers of heaven we so desperately need.  Along with having faith, repenting, and doing good works he hit upon something that I had missed. Learning to wait upon the Lord. 

“If you pray, if you talk to God, and if you plead for the help you need, and if you thank him not only for help but for the patience and gentleness that come from not receiving all you desire right away or perhaps ever, then I promise you that you will draw closer to him. And then you will become diligent and longsuffering”  

“The Lord doesn't put us through this test just to give us a grade; he does it because the process will change us."

“Let me encourage you by telling you a story. It was told to me by my father. He told it with the intent to chuckle at himself. It was a story about his trying to do his duty, just the way you try to do your duty.

Now you have to know a little bit about my father. His name was Henry Eyring, like mine. He had done some of the things students of this university are preparing to be able to do. His work in chemistry was substantial enough to bring the honors some of you will someday have, but he was still a member of a ward of the Church with his duty to do. To appreciate this story, you have to realize that it occurred when he was nearly eighty and had bone cancer. He had bone cancer so badly in his hips that he could hardly move. The pain was great. 

Dad was the senior high councilor in his stake with the responsibility for the welfare farm. An assignment was given to weed a field of onions, so Dad assigned himself to go work on the farm.

Dad never told me how hard it was, but I have met several people who were with him that day. I talked to one of them on the phone the other night to check the story. The one I talked to said that he was weeding in the row next to Dad through much of the day. He told me the same thing that others who were there that day have told me. He said that the pain was so great that Dad was pulling himself along on his stomach with his elbows. He couldn't kneel. The pain was too great for him to kneel. Everyone who has talked to me has remarked how Dad smiled, and laughed, and talked happily with them as they worked in that field of onions. 
Liz Collins Oil Pastel

Now, this is the joke Dad told me on himself, afterward. He said he was there at the end of the day. After all the work was finished and the onions were all weeded, someone asked him, "Henry, good heavens! You didn't pull those weeds, did you? Those weeds were sprayed two days ago, and they were going to die anyway." 

Dad just roared. He thought that was the funniest thing. He thought it was a great joke on himself. He had worked through the day in the wrong weeds. They had been sprayed and would have died anyway.

When Dad told me this story, I knew how tough it was. So I said to him, "Dad, how could you make a joke out of that? How could you take it so pleasantly?" 

He said something to me that I will never forget, and I hope you won't. He said, "Hal, I wasn't there for the weeds.

Now, you'll be in an onion patch much of your life. So will I. It will be hard to see the powers of heaven magnifying us or our efforts. It may even be hard to see our work being of any value at all. And sometimes our work won't go well. 

But you didn't come for the weeds. You came for the Savior. And if you pray, and if you choose to be clean, and if you choose to follow God's servants, you will be able to work and wait long enough to bring down the powers of heaven. 

Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls. [Alma 37:33–34]

Next time I decide to do something, I think I will ask in prayer, "Heavenly Father, is this what the Lord would have me do?" And I think I will wait upon the Lord until I know. Then I might say, "Please, while I am working at it, can I remember that I am doing it for the Lord?" I promise you that if you will be patient and diligent, you will have a blessing come to you that you will know that you are doing what the Lord would have you do. And you can be blessed to remember that while you are in that onion patch, you are not there for the weeds. That will be important sometimes when the weeds don't come out easily. You can feel the approval of God. 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. [Isaiah 40:31] 

Dad never got better. He just got worse. So you might say, "Well, he waited upon the Lord, but he couldn't run and he couldn't walk." But that was true only in this life. There will be a day for you and me when, whatever difficulties and limitations we have here, we will have that promise fulfilled for us. We will be lifted up as on eagles' wings, and it will be those who have waited upon the Lord.”

So as we work on our shortcomings and move through the trials of our lives, if things are just not going the way we want, let us keep working knowing that we aren't there for the weeds and that the process is what takes us home. It will make all the difference.



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