Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Song of the Righteous: Part 9

Second to last Song of the Righteous is hymn 293, Each Life That Touches Ours for Good 

"Each life that touches ours for good reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
Thou sendest blessings from above thru words and deeds of those who love.

What greater gift dost thou bestow, what greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

When such a friend from us departs, we hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory, bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

For worthy friends whose lives proclaim devotion to the Savior's name,
Who bless our days with peace and love, we praise thy goodness, Lord, above."

I know this hymn is usually meant for funerals (not always the happiest of occasions), but the message has a wonderful reminder for all of us.

Today (3-26-2017) in Sunday School the subject matter was missionary work and there were several examples given of people who's efforts to share the gospel might have seemed relatively fruitless at the time.  One was of Samuel Smith, the prophet Joseph Smith's brother.  On his mission he found Phineas Young who accepted the gospel and Phineas' brother, Brigham, read the same Book of Mormon that Samuel gave to Phineas.  As is well known, Brigham became the President of the Lord's church and lead the saints to establish Zion in the Western U.S.  I might be wrong, but if I recall correctly, Samuel felt that his efforts didn't amount to much at first because Phineas was the only person received the truth from his efforts.  You can read more detail about that story here.

Another example of this is Abinadi in the Book of Mormon.  He taught the gospel to a people who didn't care about it and had nothing but contempt for the word of the Lord as he (Abinadi) was tied up and interrogated by a wicked king and threatened with death.  One, just one, of the the kings corrupt priests, Alma, felt the truth of Abinadi's words and escaped the kings soldiers when they pursued him for speaking out in favor Abinadi.  He wrote down what he heard, repented, became the prophet of the Lord's church and was the means of fulfilling the Lord's promise to Nephi that the sacred records of his people would be preserved and come forth in our day as the Book of Mormon.  So really, partially because of Abinadi's efforts, we have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ today.

These are just two examples of countless more of how one life can touch even millions of others for good.

I'm sure this story has been told in many Christian congregations throughout the world, but it's worth repeating here.  During World War II, a statue of Jesus Christ in a German town had been destroyed by bombing.  After the war was over, the people of the town where the statue resided found the pieces among the rubble and were saddened with the destruction of this great symbol of their faith.  Some skilled men were able to restore most of the statue, but the hands were so badly damaged that they could not be repair.  So the towns people decided they would simply leave the hands off the statue and ad an inscription as the bottom that read "You are my hands."
This story is quite the effective reminder of how much good we can do for others by simply living a Christ-like life.  Sometimes when I'm picking up groceries or running errands at our street corner and I see a miserable looking cashier I use a line I heard in college to help snap them out of it and hopefully brighten their day.  Pointing downward, I say "excuse me Ma'am/Sir, you dropped your smile!"  They usually take a split second to catch on to what I did but the smile they always respond with gives me opportunity to say something like "There ya go!  There's always something to be happy about!"

I have been the thankful recipient of an encouraging favor or remark on countless occasions as well and while you sometimes may not think it is worth much, I can tell you that with the kinds of things that go on in the lives of my wife and I, small things like that often make all the difference between the rest of my day going rotten or getting better.

I also love the mention of "hallowed memor[ies]" in verse 3 of this hymn.  It goes along very well with 2 Nephi 9:14 where it mentions the righteous having "a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness" at the resurrection.  As I mentioned in another blog post, "I love having even the smallest reminders of His love for us.  I'm not as good as I want to be at keeping those memories fresh, but when they are there, even only if for a small moment, I'm home."

The last verse has a message that is very personal and particularly meaningful to me because of how often I feel like a loner spiritually. "For worthy friends whose lives proclaim devotion to the Savior's name, Who bless our days with peace and love, we praise thy goodness, Lord, above."  When I find someone who's experiences are as deeply spiritual and wonderful or, conversely, devastating, it serves as a relief and a breath of fresh air for me because I don't feel a need to 'sugar coat' or socially 'tip-toe' with anything I say because those friends lives "proclaim [the same] devotion to the Savior's name" as I feel in my heart and I know they'll understand what I mean no matter what I say.

I will forever be thankful for those many people who served as both a "balm of Gilead" for me in rough times and a pleasant reminder or enhancement of truth, goodness and love during days of peace.  And, of course, when it comes to the most important life that touches all for good, God be thanked for the matchless gift of His Divine Son, Jesus Christ.

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