When I was in college I began collecting quotes that meant a lot to me. I began when I was at BYU Idaho and had an amazing and inspirational professor. His name is David Christensen, and he had a favorite poem. He recited it often and encouraged us all to memorize it. It was the beginning of my collection. These days I use Pinterest to keep track of them all. But I’ll never forget the first one, the one I want to use as a jumping off place for our chat today. It’s called Good Timber. Have you heard it? Let me share in case you haven’t.
by Douglas Malloch
The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.
Such a powerful analogy! When I was a teenager my parents took the family to Redwood National Park in California to see the Giant Sequoias. These are trees that are SO enormous that the largest trees could hold a stadium full of people. They are thousands of years old. I remember gathering with my family and other tourists to try to hold hands and surround one tree. It took over a dozen people. I remember seeing a picture of a car driving through a tunnel made of one of these giant trees. Can you imagine the stories these ancient trees could share? How much wind and strife have they endured? Their majesty inspires me.
Have you felt the storms of life lately? For me they have been intensifying. I had a great shock a few weeks ago when one of the ladies in my congregation that I was specifically assigned to visit every month, decided to leave the church. She just informed me one day that her husband had been investigating another denomination and that they would no longer need us. Since then she has posted pictures of her family on social media showing how happy they are in their new church. And the reason she left was because she felt we didn’t focus enough on Jesus Christ in our church. Hello!? The name of the Church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. The whole purpose of our being is to bring souls unto Christ. And every prayer, every Sunday school lesson, every talk from the pulpit is either invoking His name or calling for His spirit to be with us.
Soon after my friend left the Church I noticed a sharp increase in attacks on people of faith on Social Media. It’s like the evil one has called forward all his troops for a heavy assault. I admit I’ve felt stung by the comments and the bitterness. For those who may have been feeling the same thing, who may feel weak or wounded, I have a message for you. You are stronger than this storm. You are better and wiser and tougher than you ever thought you were. Things like this bring out the strength in us. Don’t let them get you down. Don’t let those who would destroy your soul win. They are not looking out for your best interests. They are seeking their own satisfaction at the sacrifice of your happiness and well being. These storms will continue to gather until the Savior returns. Remember whose side you are on. Stay strong, and lean on Him because He will ALWAYS support those who love Him. I am reminded of 2 Kings 6:16 “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” In the coming days we will literally see that as a reality. The enemy is loud, and everywhere. But God is still stronger. He still wins. Take comfort in knowing how this battle will end.
God’s purpose for sending us here to Earth is to help us grow. Growth doesn’t come only in the sunshine days where all is peaceful. Growth also comes from surviving the storms, from scars that He helps heal. I’m grateful my Savior doesn’t leave me alone. I’m praying I can be a better person and reach further toward the light, strengthening my faith and testimony along the way. And I pray for you. I pray for all who are feeling beaten and blown. This is a time of turmoil in the world, where men’s hearts will fail them. This is a time when even the elect will be deceived. But I’m praying for you to stand strong and stand with the Savior. Because He stands with you, and He needs you on His team to help stem the tide of evil in these final days before He comes again.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.