Thursday, January 28, 2016

Farewell Elder Collingridge

November 29, 2015

Elder Collingridge - Farewell Talk

I was reminiscing about some of my experiences from scouting the other day and I remembered a certain experience I would like to share with you. A couple years ago as we were traveling by car to a campsite I found myself in a deep sleep, well as deep a sleep as you can have while you have your friends sitting on either side of you, poking you, messing with you, and taking selfies with you asleep. Only to be shook awake by my friends I was sitting next to in very excited voices “Griffin! We just hit a deer!” As I was still half asleep and groggy my first response was one of irritation and disbelief. But as I opened my eyes and looked through the front windshield I saw the hood of the car dented up and the steam seeping through the cracks, and as I looked behind me through the rear window I saw a deer carcass laying in the road about 100ft from our car. Being the adolescents we were we proceeded to exit the vehicle to inspect the deer. This experience I had kind of reminds me of a story of Christ.

On one particular journey to Galilee, after Christ had taught multitudes on the shore of the Sea Of Galilee, he beckoned his disciples on a small vessel and they departed across the lake. In the middle of their short journey a great tempest suddenly arose, winds started raging, waves thrashed on their small vessel. I can only imagine the look of horror on the apostles faces as their ship started to fill with water from the rough waves, and then the jaw dropping surprise as they looked to the back of the ship to see the Savior peacefully asleep.

Mathew 8: 23-24 describes it as such: “ And when he[Christ] was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.”

The Apostles then proceeded to awake The Savior saying “Master carest not that we perish?” Christ then responds in verse 26 & 27: “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”

I think there are two essential lessons we can learn from Christ in this story. The first is about having faith when the trials in our lives seem to over burden us, and the attitude we should have when confronted by these tempests. 

If you think back to these stories of the car I was in that hit a deer, and the Savior calming the tempest, probably the only thing that is similar is that Christ and I were both asleep through these otherwise slightly annoying, terrifying, and tense situations. So when I first read this story I immediately thought “Sleeping through trials? This is second nature to me, just ask my old Seminary Teachers!”

For those of you who don’t know, Seminary is a morning class high school age students attend before school at around 6:15 in the morning, and we would basically cover a book of scripture each year of high school, so one year was the old testament, the next was the new testament, then the Book of Mormon etc., Unfortunately, I developed a bad habit of sleeping in class, and it probably didn’t help that I brought my own pillow…

Anyways, as I further pondered this scripture and my own experience I realized it wasn’t so much important that we were asleep, but for the distinct differences in the reasons for our slumber. Where as mine was based more off of a ignorance to my surroundings, Christ’s was based off of faith, comfort, and peace. 

Christ once said “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He was not spared grief, pain, or anguish. His suffering and atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by his crucifixion are obvious examples of this. But no matter how fierce the tempest, peace was always on the lips and in the heart of our Savior.

I think we have all had an occasion where we have cried out “Master, Carest not that we perish?” We must approach our trials with the attitude of our Savior. Far too often it is easy to try to be ignorant of our trials, pretend that they don’t exist, to in a sense “sleep through them” like in my experience. It is also easy to feel over burdened, to be overcome by our trials, to lose hope and let depression and anxiety into our lives. We must look onward with an eternal perspective, and with faith, that no matter how fierce the tempest, peace may always be on our lips, and in our hearts.

The second lesson we can learn from this story is the fact that Christ used his faith, and abilities to bring peace into the lives of the other passengers who had started to lose their faith and hope. 

As disciples of Jesus Christ we are covenanted and obligated to do the same for our fellow man. The prophet Alma described this promise we made when he taught and prepared a large crowd to be baptized. He said:

“As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;”
“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God,”

We have the honor, and privilege of being comforters to our fellow man.  I would like to share a short story, the author is unknown, but the message they share articulates this point.

“Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Being crippled, bed ridden and seriously ill, the man in this story has every excuse to give up his will to live, and let depression into his life. But the man by the window does not let him! He reminds him of the joyful things, worth living for. Although the man could not see the things described to him, he could feel it in his mind and in his heart, the joy and warmth they created. This reminder gave the man something to live for, and encouraged him to improve.

We need more of this. We live in a time prophesied to have great calamity, and destruction on our world. We see people's lives afflicted, from death of loved ones, divorce, persecution, disabilities, addictions, illness & injuries.

We must minister to those who are weak and fearful in their hearts. We can help ease other burdens best as we help God strengthen them. We must remind our fellow man of their identity and purpose as sons and daughters of a loving God.  We must mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those in need of comfort.

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