It seems like a strange concept, doesn’t it? Let me tell what sparked my thoughts, then I’ll explain how they apply to a disciple’s life.
Last night, I happened across a headline that caught my eye. Maybe you saw it, too. It advertised a 5-year-old piano prodigy. Some of us might completely ignore the hype that often surrounds a child’s prodigy status, but this one held an extra set of unique circumstances. Yes, she’s five and yes, she plays better than I ever could, but she’s also blind and was adopted after being abandoned as an infant.
I do not pretend to understand what might have caused this child’s mother to leave her, but my heart breaks for both the child and the mother. I also wonder if this particular mother knows what her child has shown herself capable of. I wonder if it’s a case of hindsight: If she had known the beauty and power her child possessed, would the mother’s choices have been altered? Again, I can’t know.
I can only try to apply what I’ve learned to my own life. This small video clip on the internet stirred something in my heart. Have there been times in my own life where something has seemed too hard, too different, or too insignificant that I have tossed it aside without ever seeing the gift that God had in mind for me? Have I only seen a rock, when I should have refined and polished it to find the gem underneath? If I had only stuck with a particular challenge longer, would I be better off now? Has God given me a special talent or blessing that I have ignored because I was too intent on seeing and magnifying my own inadequacies instead of my unique qualities?
I thought of times in the scriptures where Christ, or one of His servants, issued advice or a task to be performed. I wondered if I had ever been like some who, in response to the Lord’s command, went away discouraged thinking that it couldn’t possibly be the answer to the problem. Or, have I received a gift from Him and not recognized it as such or not given Him thanks and credit for filling my life with His love.
I say and feel that I am loved personally and individually by my Father in Heaven, but I still think there are plenty of times in my own life when I forget, or simply cannot comprehend how vast and significant that love is. Nurturing and loving us is at the very center of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ’s nature and character. The Savior’s perfect love is just that—perfect. But I am far from it. I sometimes overlook the little (and the big) things that trickle down from heaven because of this love and the miracle of the Atonement every day.
In the Book of Mormon, there is a passage that I think I need to remember a little more often.
But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love. (2 Nephi 1:15)
His arms are constantly around us, with His heart close to ours. But the world and our own human frailties can overwhelm and block out its soft, comforting beat.
It might be that we’ve let ourselves become caught up in more than we can handle, or even the wrong things. Consider Mary and Martha. Martha was a good person. She loved the Savior. She was His disciple. She was excited to have Him in her home. But, she was so engrossed in her chores (and the stress associated with them) that she missed out on a portion of the love and peace Christ was trying to share with her that day. In this world I think it’s very easy for each of us to become so caught up in “have-to,” “need-to,” and “should” that the stress becomes overwhelming. It pushes out the presence of the Spirit in our lives and causes us to forget to bring Him back. Though we can see the Savior in the distance, we just can’t seem to “catch up” so that we can catch up with Him. We forget that Jesus Christ has offered us the chance to walk beside Him— not run after Him, short of breath and unsure of the way.
Another possibility is that we’ve noticed how far behind we seem to be. We know we’ve fallen by the wayside or feel that we can never match up to what the Savior requires of His disciples. Do we refuse His blessings because they couldn’t possibly be meant for us? Somewhere in the back of our minds, do we feel that only those that seem to be so much better than us deserve or receive His love? As false as that thought might be, it is common. We mistakenly think salvation can be handled in the same way that everything else on our to-do list is: figure out what needs to be done, do it, and mark it off the list. Life isn’t “done” once—it happens every day in every way. The walk with Christ is still a walk, not a sit-down-on-a park-bench-and-watch-everybody-else-go-by experience. He bids us “come” not “arrive.”
It might be that we simply don’t recognize the blessing hidden among the trials and chaos. I think of another scripture found in the Book of Mormon:
And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. (1 Nephi 11:22)
I envision a mighty tree that is reaching out, trying to cover me with shade and protection. Then, I think of the humble beginnings of any tree. Every plant, including a tree, begins as a seed. It really doesn’t look like much, but it has miracles hidden inside. If it’s given nourishment, it grows—but even then it can be mistaken for something of no consequence. Then there’s my favorite analogy: have you ever re-potted a plant? What would have happened if you pulled out the tender plant, took one look at the jumbled and tangled roots, said “nothing good can possibly come from this mess!” and thrown the whole thing away?! It’s difficult to understand that our seemingly chaotic roots hold up some of the most beautiful parts of our lives.
Heavenly Father is giving us the best and most desirable gifts every day, yet, at every stage, we can overlook or reject God’s blessings. Have you rejected a blessing lately? Have you lost sight of Christ and feel that it isn’t possible to walk beside Him as He invites? Look again. You never know what amazing gift can be hiding in the corners of life.
This article was previously published in July 2008. Minor changes have been made.