Somehow, I was lucky enough to receive the gift of my grandmother’s antique chairs with the hand-stitched figures of flower bouquets carefully and painstakingly darned into the handmade seat covers. I believe I remember her completing these when I was just a boy, and naturally today I cherish them, perhaps to obsession.
“Don’t let dad see you sitting in one of those chairs,” was a phrase unspoken yet strictly followed in our home. These gems were to be seen and treasured, not used.
Then one day we had a big party at the house. It was my daughter’s birthday and dozens of youth arrived in our home…or at least it seemed like dozens. I went to get pizzas to help feed our guests. Meanwhile the large group of youngsters began a game—“fruit basket” I think it was called—where chairs are placed around in a circle, and there is one more person than there are chairs. When somebody yelled “fruit basket,” the young people raced to quickly change seats. Nobody wants to be last left standing in the middle of the circle. We were literally using every chair in the house. Nobody wanted to be “it” and have to remain standing.
Needless to say the game was intense, loud, fun, and fast. So in the heat of the moment, two youngsters converged on a particular chair at the very same time and to everyone’s surprise, it exploded. The chair splintered into a million pieces. Yes, it was grandma’s antique chair. Here’s where the meaning starts.
I have always admired those who could make something incredible from the ordinary. Whether that miracle unfolded on a piece of canvas or Tuscan marble or finely crafted architecture, it manifests itself in the exquisite realization of a dream.
Michelangelo’s legendary David was hewn from a piece of rock. His famous Pieta was etched in marble, which reminds me of something he said about sculpting. He didn’t add things. He just removed the parts that weren’t supposed to be there. Michelangelo was also reported to have said “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
Some people can see more from life than the obvious. In the midst of challenges, they grasp opportunity and fulfillment. Rapture is a decision.
Joy is found in the struggle.
Dreams are not shattered unless evaded.
Sorrow, struggles, and tragedy are common traveling companions in this world. If you haven’t experienced any of these hardships for yourself, just wait. You will. Though carefree incidents in life are fleeting, this existence was never intended to be easy and untroubled. We gain wisdom and strength by overcoming adversity. So expect rough times, because they are sure to come.
Yet, shattered lives can be repaired. Lost dreams can be recovered. Missed experiences can be realized. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is more than believing in the past. It’s trusting in His ability to deliver what He has promised us now and in the future, as well.
My treasured chair remains on my workbench for the time until I figure out how to take on the challenge of mending it. But the Healer has no limitations. He waits only for us to let Him in to our lives, so he can work a miracle in our behalf.
My niece who has been serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remarked in her latest letter that she continues to notice the little miracles that happen in our lives every day.
“The other night one of the members took us out to eat and realized she had forgotten her wallet. She searched and searched and couldn’t find it. We rode with her back to her work and she looked and still couldn’t find it. So we said a prayer together and she went back into her work to look again. In the meantime, my companion and I decided to look around in her car, and I’m not even kidding, the first place I stuck my hand I felt the wallet! It was so cool. Just one of those experiences where you know it was no coincidence. It seemed so simple, but my heart just felt like bursting with gratitude to Heavenly Father. He really is in the details of our lives, and He cares about what we care about, even the simple things that seem insignificant.” Our concerns are important to Him because they are important to us. He is a part of our lives.
She closed her letter by sharing an experience where Elder Kopischk, the visiting seventy at their zone conference, was asked about the frequency of revelation, to which he responded “Sister, we live in a rainstorm,” meaning that the Spirit is really always with us pouring out promptings to us like the drops in a rainstorm. We have only to recognize them.
President Kimball warned that expecting awe-inspiring, earthshattering display is not typically the way revelation comes, yet it will come, engulfing us with a constant stream of inspiration, if we let it. He said
“Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, and light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption.”
And that is something for which we can all be grateful.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.