Friday, March 27, 2009

What Might Have Been

As I have written previously, I have been studying the Old Testament. I concluded the story of Saul last week, but I am still thinking about him. His story has affected me deeply and saddened me because his life illustrates what might have been. I mourn what he might have done with his life and who he might have been if only he had chosen to follow God instead of his natural man.

We are all like Saul. We all have the opportunity to follow our divine destinies or to turn away and follow after our own desires. Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. He will never force us to follow that plan nor will he stop us from abandoning it.

As a young man, my grandfather attended church with his family. His mother and father both emigrated from Europe and found the gospel. Unfortunately, his father worked in the coal mines and succumbed to Black Lung when my grandfather was still a teenager. Back in the early 20th century times were tough, especially for a widow with children. They constantly struggled to make ends meet.

Something occurred in their ward that offended my great-grandmother. Though she got over it, my grandfather never did and he carried that grudge with him for the rest of his life. He never had a good thing to say about the Church and was vehemently opposed to me attending church, seminary, or paying my tithing.

My grandfather was an incredibly intelligent and talented man. He could fix anything. He knew so much about electronics. He invented the mute button for annoying television commercials long before it was readily available on remotes. He had a kind heart—he consented to raising my sister and me after our parents died, even though he’d planned to retire without worrying about raising a second family. He loved my sister and me and, I think, he was proud of us.

He could have been an amazing leader in the Church. He could have used his talents to further the kingdom of God. He could have been a missionary and used his priesthood to bless our lives and the lives of others. He could have done so many things, but he didn’t. He nursed his grudge and he gave into his natural man, much like Saul. It makes me ache to think of what he could have done with his life, but chose not to, simply because he let Satan influence him instead of God. Perhaps, that is why Saul’s story has affected me so dramatically—instead of Saul, I see my grandfather.

His life as well as Saul’s serves as a reminder to me. Heavenly Father has a plan for me and it’s my responsibility to continually follow that plan. I can get glimpses of Heavenly Father’s plan for me through rereading my patriarchal blessing, inspiration while I’m reading the scriptures or attending the temple, or while I’m praying.

I hope that each of us will seek to follow Heavenly Father’s plan so it will not be said of us, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: `It might have been!’” (from John Greenleaf Whittier's poem Maud Muller).

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Jaime Theler said...

That's so true. I hope that I'll never be one to take offense, but for me I worry more that I don't offend others that way. Thanks for sharing.

me and you plus two said...

Love your should be a seminary teacher!

Cathy Witbeck said...

What a sad story. It certainly makes you think about how you need to strengthen your own testimony and realize that the Church is true despite the choices that some members make in how they treat others.
Thanks for sharing your insight.