Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tender Mercies

Steve was in charge of church last week and asked me to speak. Steve gave a wonderful talk on being examples. He showed a video clip of the Savior amongst the Nephites and said that we should be serving as the Lord served. It was a good reminder of what we need to be doing here.

I'm glad he asked me to speak because several thoughts had been going through my mind for several weeks and I was able to share them. Also, I had had an experience that week that was really special to me. The irony was, that the day of this experience was the same day that Janae and I had phone s ** e ** x (filters again). Read the next post.

Anyway, I'm being lazy. Rather than rewrite the experience (it's getting late, OK, I'm just tired), I'm going to cut and past the section of my talk that pertained to this experience and put it here. Now I'm plagarizing my own work. I'll add editorial comments and put them in parenthesis. That way, you can read the original and yet hear my thoughts. Make sense?

So here it is...

As we know, the fountain, the source of all our blessings comes from the Lord. If it were not for Him, we would be nothing, we would have nothing. I remember Elder Bednar talking about the Lord’s tender mercies in his April, 2005 conference talk. As I went back and read his talk, I had forgotten that he shared this story. He described a spiritual experience he had as he stepped to the pulpit to deliver his first address as an Apostle of the Lord. He said that moments before the congregation had sung his favorite hymn, “Redeemer of Israel.” He explained that that hymn would have been selected weeks before conference and certainly before he received his call but if he would have had a choice in the selection of the rest hymn, it would have been that one. As he stood to speak, he had tears in his eyes because he recognized the Lord’s “tender mercies” in the selection of this hymn. I love the fact that it was a hymn, his favorite hymn, that caused him to reflect on that phrase out of 1 Nephi that later became the basis for a very powerful conference talk. (I just love Elder Bednar's talks. He has a way of selecting just the right material, the right way of delivering them and of course, he doe it with the Spirit.)

Elder Bednar said, “I have come to better understand that the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individual blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindness, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.

He gave several examples of the Lord’s tender mercies. He talked about how the Lord is mindful of us and through simple, sweet experiences, the Lord will fortify and protect us in troubled times.

I could so relate to what he was saying then. I can so relate to what he was saying now. As I look back on the last few months, I can see the Lord’s tender mercies in my life. As Robert Robinson wrote, “streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise." (I talked about sacred music and what a profound effect it has had on me, especially since being here. I used Robinson's hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, as the basis for my talk. At the end, I played the version that has so profoundly affected me. It was performed by the BYU combined choirs in their Thanksgiving concert several years ago.

Just this week I felt the Lord’s tender mercies in my life. We’ve talked about how we could continue to be an influence in our families lives even though we’re thousands of miles away. The other day I felt prompted to call my family at the time we usually read scriptures. I’m so glad I listened to that prompting. I took my scriptures down to the phone room and called. I was able to talk to my wife (don't ask me where the thought to quote American Dreamer came from, the words just came out) and oldest son for a few minutes as my other two boys came to the table. I then had my wife turn on the speaker on our phone and I got to listen to my family read scriptures. We have a thing in our family where Dad reads all the verses except for the one that has your age number in it. For example, my oldest son is 18 so he reads all the verses with the number 8 in it. It’s something we’ve done since our boys were very little. It’s something we continue to do. Well this time it was my wife reading all the verses. When it came to my first verse, she skipped me. When my verse came again, I said into the phone, "it's my turn" and I read my verse over the phone. And so we read scriptures together despite being thousands of miles away. After we were done reading, I got to participate with my family in family prayer over the phone. I got to listen to my son offer the prayer and thank Heavenly Father that "Dad could read scriptures with us." I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Of course, I had tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. I had to croak out an "I love you" as I regained my composure. “Streams of mercy, never ceasing.”

So there you have it. The Lord's tender mercies were so evident last week. That experience was one of the most sweet and tender I've had since I've been here. Now, I read scriptures just about every night with my family. Sometimes the phone line is so bad I can't hear what's being said, but that doesn't matter. What's most important is that I'm spending a few minutes every morning with my family. I get to read with them, pray with them and then tell them I love them and to have a great day.

Tender mercies.


LoraLynn said...

That really did bring tears to my eyes. Not to mention that "Come Thou Font..." is one of my favorites and Elder Bednar is great. Aww, we miss you!!


DeAnna said...

I agree with LoraLynn...tears were in my eyes also and that BYU version of "Come Thou Font" brings tears to my eyes every time I hear. Thanks for your spiritual uplifts.