Sunday, February 28, 2010 3 comments

Dysfunctional family dynamics: Herod, Herodias, and daughter Salome

16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.
17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her.
18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.
19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:
20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man [and a holy man, and one who feared God and observed to worship him; and when he heard him he did many things for him].
21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.
24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.
25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.
26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. (Mark 6:16-28, JST inserted)
I have to make several observations about this story. First, even though Herod respected John, listened to him, and did many things for him, Herod’s leadership did not extend to his own family. He didn’t teach his wife or his daughter to respect John as well. Think what would have happened if he had. This whole tragic episode might have been avoided completely. If he had been a better leader to his family, perhaps the desires of his wife and daughter might have been different. They might have learned to ask for righteous things instead of something so terrible as a prophet’s head on a platter.

Another thing--from what Herodias instructed her daughter to ask, we can see that mothers can pass on their evil desires and inclinations to their children. Herodias’s daughter didn’t know what to ask for. She didn’t know what was worth having when offered what amounted to a blank check. If Herodias had been a righteous woman, think what good might have been done!

Another thing I observe is that Herodias had a problem with cattiness and holding grudges. She would have had John killed right off, but Herod wouldn’t let her. Yet she pressured Herod until he had John put in prison. Did that satisfy her to have a prophet’s freedom abridged so that he was unable to preach? No. She wanted him dead and that was at the top of her mind when her daughter came to her to find out what request she should make of Herod. She didn’t even consider asking something that could have benefited her daughter in any way. Her daughter was the one that deserved the reward for her dancing skills, but Herodias put herself first even before her daughter.

If we look even deeper, we find that Herod’s family affliction was rooted in his disobedience of a particular portion of the Law of Moses—taking his brother’s wife. “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.” (Leviticus 18:16) “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness...” (Leviticus 20:21) (And evidently the woman he chose wasn’t the greatest.) As a prophet, John the Baptist was obligated to decry wickedness and call to repentance all people, including those in high places, such as Herod and Herodias. Herodias would be highly offended by this and view John the Baptist as a meddler who was coming between Herod and her. Her opinion was probably the same as is sometimes seen today—“It is not the prophet’s business to say who is allowed to marry who! That’s a private decision!” It is also possible that Herod and Herodias wanted people to think they were religiously devout and John the Baptist was spoiling their public relations.

The final thing I observe about this story—which is actually in the first verse of the quoted material above—is that after it was all over and John was dead, when Herod heard of the things Jesus was doing, he made statements that it was John risen from the dead. I don’t think this indicates that Herod was superstitious and thought that John was coming back to take revenge. I think Herod preferred to think that it meant that his own heinous act of murder had been cancelled out somehow, perhaps forgiven, somehow reversed. Maybe he said it to try to anger his wife too. Imagine the guilt he must have felt for killing John the Baptist and how this must have affected his relationship with his wife.

So what does this sad story teach me? It shows me how important it is for a man and a woman to be equally yoked in marriage and how difficult it can be when one partner wants to listen to the prophet and the other is offended by the prophet. It makes my heart ache when I think of members whose marriage partner is even just inactive or a nonmember. How difficult that must be want to do right but feel unable to whole-heartedly embrace it because of a critical or skeptical family member or partner.

In summary, this story conveys:
  • The importance of marrying a righteous person in the Lord’s way
  • The need to teach family to revere the prophets and listen to them
  • The importance of forgiveness
  • The importance of teaching children to want righteous things
  • The importance of looking for wise ways to reward our children for their skills

Image: from
Friday, February 26, 2010 1 comments

“Joseph, thou son of David, fear not…”

18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 1:18-20)
As I was reading this, I noticed the angel salutes Joseph as “son of David” at the very beginning. It struck me as odd that the angel would call attention to Joseph’s distinguished ancestry as a greeting preface. We are used to Jesus being called “son of David”, but it seems odd that Joseph would be given the honorific title by the angel, when we know that ultimately it rightfully belongs to Jesus. We could look at it from a cynical point of view and say that reminder could have made it harder for Joseph to espouse Mary. Why should he (with his impeccable lineage) countenance her doubtful pregnancy?

It is also likely that Joseph was unaware of his being a “son of David”. Knowledge of his right to the line must have been lost and his being a carpenter indicates that the line had sunk into obscurity over several generations and what with the Roman’s control over the nation, if there had been general awareness of his ancestry, no doubt some people would have sought him out and made him a figurehead for a rebellious movement for Israelite independence.

The thing that I realized is that the angel was referring to Joseph’s ancestry in order to help him remember what the Lord had done for his ancestors. No doubt Heavenly Father had carefully watched over the line to protect it. The implicit message was that all was right with his line and that Mary’s pregnancy was just as protected and special as his ancestry and that her child belonged in his illustrious family line.

How can this story help us today?

I think it can help in two ways. First, Joseph was thinking about what he should do about Mary. Undoubtedly he wanted to do the right thing for himself and for her. He was perfectly within his rights to divorce her (and even have her publically burned to death) but he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. If you find yourself in the situation of wondering whether you should divorce your spouse, it is encouraging to know that it is a matter that the Lord gives revelation on. Maybe that isn’t a politically correct lesson to draw from this story, but I think it is still an important one.

Second, it is good to know that the Lord knows who is to be born into our families and that he let’s us know.
Friday, February 19, 2010 4 comments

Peter’s Unusual Test of Christ’s Identity

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. (Matthew 14:22-28)
This part of the story has made me wonder more and more as I’ve grown older. It seems so odd on so many levels. Why try to test the identity of the Savior in such a dangerous way? It’s like saying, “If it is really you, Jesus, tell me to do something miraculous that is likely to drown me if it isn’t really you.”

Maybe Peter really knew it was Christ. But this presents us with another problem. If Peter really knew it was Christ, wouldn’t that make his request into a badly concealed plea to experience what it was like to walk on the water himself? It would seem so. And you can’t just ask for miracles just to consume it upon the lust of your curiosity. That’s not what miracles are for. And it is not likely that Christ would gratify that kind of thing.

So it seems we must assume that Peter really was in doubt about whether it was Christ walking on the water. It seems we really must grapple with why Peter chose to test the Savior’s identity in such a dangerous way. Common sense would dictate that he think of a test that placed him in no jeopardy no matter what the result was. Why, Peter, why did you do what you did?

What if Peter had used his priesthood and tried to command the being to depart? An evil spirit would have departed when adjured in the name of Christ. But Christ might have departed too, in obedience to His own name. That wouldn’t tell the apostles anything about the identity of the being that they saw.

Perhaps Peter thought of the evil spirits that had entered into the pigs and caused the pigs to run into the sea and drown themselves. Maybe he thought one of them had risen out of the water and was trying to continue its evil work. The madness of the pigs certainly was a very strong lesson about the destructive tendencies of evil spirits. A man deceived by an evil spirit would be led to destruction.

And the being that was coming across the water to them could only be one of two entities. Either it really was Christ as claimed, or it was an evil spirit, because no good spirit would ever attempt to impersonate Christ. If it were an evil spirit, detecting that was imperative, to prevent it from deceiving the apostles and leading them on to destruction.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps Peter was not thinking of saving himself when he made that unusual request. His intent was to save the other apostles by making himself a sort of guinea pig. He must have thought, If I do something it tells me to do and then am destroyed, then it will be obvious to everyone else that the thing is evil, and they can resist it.

So Peter told the thing to prove it was Christ by bidding him to come on the water, knowing full well that he would be bid “Come” no matter what. (If it were Christ, Peter would be able to walk on the water. If it were an evil spirit, it would still tell Peter to come in order to kill him. Not only would the evil spirit not have power to save Peter, it would maliciously try to destroy him.) No matter who it was out there, Peter was leaving the boat.

What courage and love that must have taken!
29 And [Jesus] said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:29-31)
It seems incredible that just as he was doing something so miraculous, Peter would doubt. But then maybe we are assuming that walking on the water was as easy as walking across a room. And maybe Peter assumed it would be that easy too and found out that it wasn’t. He had to push against a “boisterous wind”. It must have been so strong that he began to feel like he was going to be blown away or blown off his feet into the sea. And as he began to fear, his faith left and he began to sink.

But at least he knew he could cry out to Jesus to be saved. And Jesus did save him.

One lesson I draw from this incident is from Peter’s walk on the water. In the middle of what was an obvious miracle, he discovered unexpected opposition, and it caused him to doubt the miracle even as it was occurring. I think sometimes that happens to me when I’m in the middle of participating in what is obviously a miracle, doing something I thought was impossible. So often when I encounter opposition in the middle of it, I begin to doubt what is happening. I begin to doubt if I can see it through to the end. And then the miracle begins to fail. This story shows me that I need to keep my eyes on Christ, keep my mind filled with faith, and not doubt the miracles as they are happening.

Something else this story shows me is that it tells us something about true authority. To detect true authority you have to follow it. You have to expect and receive miracles for following it. And sometimes, like it did for Peter, obedience to that divine command to “Come” requires that we do what seems impossible.
Thursday, February 18, 2010 0 comments

LDS Short Story Contest!!!

LDS Publisher is holding a Book of Mormon short contest at her blog! I have just submitted a story for it, and she has already posted stories for people to read and vote on.

You can read all the entries that have already been posted so far here. My personal favorites so far are "The Bright Sword Covenant" and "Out of the East".

The contest ends this Friday, February 19th, so if you want to participate by sending in your own story, you can find the guidelines here.
Friday, February 12, 2010 4 comments

Feeding the Five Thousand versus the Leaven of Pharisees

5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
6 ¶ Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12)
This little bit always puzzled me. I just didn’t understand how Christ would explain His beware-the-Pharisee’s-leaven speech by referring to the miracle of feeding the five thousand and the leftovers that they collected afterwards.

So I went back to the beginning of this story and thought about why Christ may have said those words in the first place. It seemed to have arisen over the apostle’s realization that they had forgotten to take bread. (I don’t know whether this meant the apostles had forgotten to eat or whether the apostles had forgotten to pack their lunch.) But it suddenly occurred to me that Christ tended to use ordinary happenings to teach important principles and that this might be one of those cases. He wouldn’t have said what He did if there hadn’t been an important idea to impress upon the apostles.

The circumstance was that the apostles were hungry. I think Christ knew that there were different kinds of hunger besides physical hunger. He knew that the apostles would have times when they were spiritually hungry as well. It is hard for us to imagine that apostles could be spiritually hungry, but we have to remember Christ’s words elsewhere: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). This indicates that the apostles, by virtue of their character, were destined to experience this hunger very often.

Hungry people have to get food somewhere. But where? “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Christ wanted to make sure that the apostles didn’t go to any old source for spiritual nourishment, particularly the Pharisees and Sadducees, who had blunted the effect of the law of Moses through their corrupted traditions. That source was tainted.

Of course the apostles were thinking with their stomachs and so Christ’s words seemed strange to them. They figured He was a little irritated that they hadn’t brought bread with them in the first place. If they perceived Christ’s spiritual message even dimly, they probably thought He just meant that they should make sure to always be spiritually full.

I realized that Christ knew it was impossible to be spiritually full all the time, and He wouldn’t warn them away from the doctrine of the Pharisees and Saducees without giving them a better alternative. This is why He reminded them of the miracle of feeding the five thousand. Just like the food to feed all those people was produced miraculously—essentially coming down from heaven like manna—nourishing doctrine would come to them from heaven right when they needed it. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). That fullness would come through revelation and inspiration. They were to depend on God to fill them with doctrine.
Monday, February 8, 2010 2 comments

1 John: A manual on discernment

I recently figured out that the book of 1 John in the New Testament is a handbook for discernment and the discerning of spirits. As apostasy was creeping into the church, it became very important for the saints to know how to tell the false from the true. The gift of discernment became very important. How could they tell what doctrines were of God, which were of men, and which were of devils?

John tells them often that there are many deceivers, false prophets, and false spirits in the world, and his epistle is full of hard and fast indicators for the saints to use in sifting truth from error. He speaks of important indicators such as love, compassion, keeping the commandments, bearing testimony of God and Christ, awareness of the Fall, and so forth.

I found it very helpful to go through the book of 1 John (and even 2 John) with a highlighter and mark in one color all the verses that set forth these tests for discernment. When I was done, half of the content in 1 John was highlighted. (I recommend this exercise for everyone.)

Here are some things I picked out:

18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (1 John 2:18-19)
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

…He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9)

10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:10-11)
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us….
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)
14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. ( 1 John 4:14-15)

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: (1 John 5:1)

2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (2 John 1:7)

23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. (1 John 2:23)

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (1 John 5:10)

22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22)
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. (1 John 2:5)

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2:3)

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1 John 2:6)

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: (1 John 3:6)

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. ( 1 John 5:18)

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (1 John 3:7)

If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (1 John 2:29)

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)

2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
(1 John 3:2-3)

…And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (1 John 3:24)

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:10)

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God… (2 John 1:9)

…whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him….
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning… (1 John 3:6,8)
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another… (1 John 1:6-7)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

…God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. ( 1 John 4:21)

…If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)

2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. (1 John 5:2)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3)

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. (1 John 2:10)

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. (1 John 3:14)

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world….. (1 John 2:15-16)

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now….and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9,11)

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:20)

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8)

…He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him….
17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (1 John 3:14-15,17)
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. (1 John 3:21)

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. (1 John 4:13)

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:12-13)
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. (2 John 1:8)
Now, we might be inclined to say, “These aren’t real tests; anyone could fake these things. I know a number of good people who aren’t members.” I say that the tests still stand because though it might be easy to fake it through one particular test, it becomes harder to fake all of them together. It becomes even harder to fake all of them together over a sustained period. It becomes impossible to fake all of them when faced with a personal trial. And it is impossible to fake all of them when the saints are being persecuted. When the going gets tough, the fakes are revealed.

We also might be inclined to think that these sayings mean we are allowed to condemn people, but that isn’t true. Rather, they are to help us be able to detect those influences would lead us astray (false prophets, false spirits, deceivers, etc.). It also means that we watch ourselves according to these principles and monitor the condition of our own hearts. This is why John tells the saints, “Look to yourselves” (2 John 1:8). I know John’s words are true. I monitor my own attitudes and thoughts a lot, using those principles to measure and evaluate them. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ve been able to catch myself going astray many times and by repenting, I’ve gotten back on track. The times I wasn’t able to catch myself, others with discernment (like my bishop) were able to catch me. Eventually I realized my fault and repented and got back on track.

Another way that John’s writings may bother us is through the simplicity of his words. Life is black or white to him; there are no shades of gray. Does this mean that he didn’t understand the complexities of people, things, and choices? Does this mean he didn’t recognize that so often we are confronted with mixes of good and evil?

I think he was perfectly aware of all of that, and I think that is precisely why he wrote what he did—to help us cut through the mess and see clearly. Let other people say we are unsophisticated. We are not in the business of making excuses for sin. A sin is a sin. We are in the business of proclaiming salvation from sin through Christ and the necessity of repentance. And we each have a duty to forgive others their trespasses.
Sunday, February 7, 2010 0 comments

Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?

23 ¶ And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
26 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.
27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matthew 8:23-27)
I love this story. Recently I was reading through it again and exulting over Christ’s perfect unconcern in the middle of this big storm. It seemed perfectly natural for the disciples to go to Christ asking Him to save them so that they wouldn’t perish. They certainly were going to the right person for help.

But then it seemed odd to me that Christ said “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” And then he calmed the storm. On the surface, this miracle, speaks of Christ’s great power over the elements, and suggests that if he can calm the storms of creation, He has power to calm a troubled heart. But let’s look deeper. If all Christ was communicating to His disciples was “you’re safe with me” that wouldn’t do them much good if they happened to be in a storm on a boat without Him. It also doesn’t help the rest of us who don’t get this privilege of being with Christ.

What came to me finally was that Christ must have been thinking again of His life mission, knowing full well that He was born to give His life for us all. He would know when the time came, and until then, He knew His life was safe. Heavenly Father was watching out for Him. Angels were watching out for Him. It was not His time to die, so there was no reason for concern.

What about His disciples? His disciples had life missions to fulfill as well. They still had to take the gospel to the rest of the world. Clearly it wasn’t their time to die yet either. Christ knew this very well, and it seems that He expected them to realize it too, which is why He asked them why they were fearful.

The real lesson here that applies to us is that Heavenly Father numbers our days and He knows when He is going to call us home. We have life missions to accomplish and if we find ourselves in a life-threatening situation, we can have confidence that Heavenly Father will be watching out for us. If it is time for us to go, we will go. If we are to stay, we will stay. There is no need for fear.

I was telling my husband about this realization of mine as we were driving along a two-lane highway to home teach a man in prison in Florence. My husband tends to pass people and previous to this I have always been a little bit skittish (teeth-clenching-door-handle-gripping-muscle-tensing-holding-my-breath skittish) about it because my overactive imagination visualizes us suddenly colliding with someone coming the opposite way. But as I was telling my husband about what I discovered, and he was getting ready to pass someone, I thought, Why should I worry about passing anymore? My husband is careful; he will use his best judgment, and Heavenly Father is watching out for us. We both have a life’s mission. We have things to do. Until it’s over, we’ll be okay. And you know what? We were fine.