Sunday, June 16, 2013

Learning to Accept God's Will

"I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn't make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn't intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
Time passed. Years passed, and I found myself in England. I was in command of a cavalry unit in the Canadian Army. I had made rather rapid progress as far as promotions are concerned, and I held the rank of field officer in the British Canadian Army. And I was proud of my position. And there was an opportunity for me to become a general. I had taken all the examinations. I had the seniority. There was just one man between me and that which for ten years I had hoped to get, the office of general in the British Army. I swelled up with pride. And this one man became a casualty, and I received a telegram from London. It said: “Be in my office tomorrow morning at 10:00,” signed by General Turner in charge of all Canadian forces. I called in my valet, my personal servant. I told him to polish my buttons, to brush my hat and my boots, and to make me look like a general because that is what I was going to be. He did the best he could with what he had to work on, and I went up to London. I walked smartly into the office of the General, and I saluted him smartly, and he gave me the same kind of a salute a senior officer usually gives—a sort of “Get out of the way, worm!” He said, “Sit down, Brown.” Then he said, “I’m sorry I cannot make the appointment. You are entitled to it. You have passed all the examinations. You have the seniority. You've been a good officer, but I can’t make the appointment. You are to return to Canada and become a training officer and a transport officer. Someone else will be made a general.” That for which I had been hoping and praying for ten years suddenly slipped out of my fingers.
Then he went into the other room to answer the telephone, and I took a soldier’s privilege of looking on his desk. I saw my personal history sheet. Right across the bottom of it in bold, block-type letters was written, “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.” We were not very well liked in those days. When I saw that, I knew why I had not been appointed. I already held the highest rank of any Mormon in the British Army. He came back and said, “That’s all, Brown.” I saluted him again, but not quite as smartly. I saluted out of duty and went out. I got on the train and started back to my town, 120 miles away, with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. And every click of the wheels on the rails seemed to say, “You are a failure. You will be called a coward when you get home. You raised all those Mormon boys to join the army, then you sneak off home.” I knew what I was going to get, and when I got to my tent, I was so bitter that I threw my cap and my saddle brown belt on the cot. I clinched my fists and I shook them at heaven. I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall.
And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness and my bitterness."
I have always loved this story, a memoir from Elder Hugh B. Brown. But it has never had the impact on me that it did today. For the last 3 weeks, I have been feeling confused, frustrated and pretty bitter about a turn of events involving my mission papers. A situation arose that involves me having to wait even longer to submit my papers to Salt Lake. The situation involved the past - something that I had fought so hard to let go of and move on from. It hurt and I questioned God, asking why I had to once more deal with this trial. And I questioned why I had to keep waiting. I am ready to serve the Lord, and I didn't understand why he wasn't allowing me to leave as soon as possible. Satan filled my heart with so much contention, and so much self-doubt. I often thought to myself over the last few weeks, "Maybe this is Him telling me that I'm not supposed to go on a mission." 
Then today, I received news that everything will be fine, and that I shouldn't have to wait much longer to submit my papers. I was so relieved, but at the same time, I still wondered. Why did old wounds have to be reopened, and why did Heavenly Father put me through this? I was sitting in Relief Society with all of these thoughts running through my head, searching for some kind of an answer. The lesson began - Chapter 11 in "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow". Guess what chapter that is? "I Seek Not Mine Own Will, but the Will of the Father". 
The instructor played a Mormon Message that tells Elder Brown's story. I'm not afraid to admit it - I bawled like a baby. My prayers for understanding had been answered. Suddenly, everything made sense. I finally knew why I had to go through all of this again. Throughout this whole ordeal, I was the currant bush. "How could you do this to me? I was making so much growth. I thought you were the gardener here." Well I am here to testify that Heavenly Father is the gardener. And every now and then, he will cut us down and prunes us. Not because he wants to hurt us and stunt our growth, but because he wants us to reach our full potential. Because he loves us. 
I once attended a fireside where the speaker explained the two reasons why we have trials: because of sin, or because the Lord thinks we're ready to grow some more. If it's the first, fix it. If it's the second, EMBRACE IT. I'm still not positive about why I have had to wait longer than I had hoped, or why I had to once again deal with the past. But I know that it has taught me to be patient. It has taught me to rely on the strength that the Lord can give me. It has taught me that things will not always go the way that I want them to and that they rarely will! It has taught me to turn my will over to the Lord and to trust in His will. Heavenly Father knows EXACTLY what we need. 
Thank you, Father, for caring about me enough to hurt me. Thank you for loving me enough to cut me down.

1 comment:

  1. I read your post - I'm proud of your understanding. I didn't realize you had blogged before your mission. I thought it was only through your mission. I'm sorry for the "hard times" you went through. My heart aches for you, but I'm proud of your attitude and growth.