Our Own Cross, Or Someone Else’s

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This is the 251st week, and we’re covering the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1990 General Conference.

First, I have to share one of my favorite poems because Elder Ringger’s talk “Choose You This Day” made me think of it. Actually, the first time I heard of this poem was from another General Conference talk, but I can’t remember which one it was. Anyway, the quote from Elder Ringger’s talk that prompted the memory was “it is one thing to know the way, and another to take it.” 

And the poem, “A Prayer”, by John Drinkwater is:

Lord, not for light in darkness do we pray,
Not that the veil be lifted from our eyes,
Nor that the slow ascensions of our day
Be otherwise.

Not for a clearer vision of the things
Whereof the fashioning shall make us great,
Not for remission of the peril and stings
Of time and fate.

Not for a fuller knowledge of the end
Whereto we travel, bruised yet unafraid,
Nor that the little healing that we lend
Shall be repaid.

Not these, O Lord. We would not break the bars
Thy wisdom sets about us; we shall climb
Unfettered to the secrets of the stars
In Thy good time.

We do not crave the high perception swift
When to refrain were well, and when fulfill,
Nor yet the understanding strong to sift
The good from ill.

Not these, O Lord. For these Thou hast revealed,
We know the golden season when to reap
The heavy-fruited treasure of the field,
The hour to sleep.

Not these. We know the hemlock from the rose,
The pure from stained, the noble from the base,
The tranquil holy light of truth that glows
On Pity’s face.

We know the paths wherein our feet should press,
Across our hearts are written Thy decrees,
Yet now, O Lord, be merciful to bless
With more than these.

Grant us the will to fashion as we feel,
Grant us the strength to labour as we know,
Grant us the purpose, ribbed and edged with steel,
To strike the blow.

Knowledge we ask not–knowledge Thou hast lent,
But, Lord, the will–there lies our bitter need,
Give us to build above the deep intent
The deed, the deed.

There were some other good talks this session, but it’s hard to think or write about them when we had another masterpiece from Elder Maxwell, “Endure It Well.” This talk covers one of my favorite themes: the difficulty of life. (No, really, I write about it a lot.)

“God has repeatedly said He would structure mortality to be a proving and testing experience,” Elder Maxwell begins, “[and] he has certainly kept his promise.”

Elder Maxwell goes on to discuss how life’s challenges–large and small–are little reflections of our Savior’s sufferings. The line that stood out to me the most–the one that inspired the title of this post–was this:

When, for the moment, we ourselves are not being stretched on a particular cross, we ought to be at the foot of someone else’s—full of empathy and proffering spiritual refreshment.

It’s hard to pick and choose snippets from this talk to share. It’s one that you really ought to read all the way through. There are just so many observations that gave me a lot to mull over. Here are just two more:

[H]ow could there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or greater patience without enduring some instructive waiting? Or more empathy without bearing one another’s burdens—not only that others’ burdens may be lightened, but that we may be enlightened through greater empathy? How can there be later magnification without enduring some present deprivation?

And:

The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating. Hypocrisy, guile, and other imbedded traits do not go gladly or easily, but if we “endure it well”, we will not grow testy while being tested.

I know I’m not saying anything y’all don’t already know, but Elder Maxwell was a treasure.


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