A God of Commandments

I was reading through some old mission poems I had written, and found this one that I apparently never wrote up and sent home. I decided to publish it today. The verse I was reading that inspired this was Mosiah 2:36-41.

Originally written Nov 7, 2018

A God of Commandments

“Keep the commandments of God,”
I read.
Then paused.
Commandments of God?

Why does a God of love,
a powerful Heavenly Father
give us, not guidance, guidelines, suggestions
advice, or even rules, but commandments?

Is it not enough, I thought,
just to be told what is right?
Why must God command me?
Why commandments, specifically?

Perhaps one answer is
that, though commandments have their punishments,
they also have rewards attached,
and God wants to reward us all.

Another thought may be
that God loves us so much
and knows the dire consequences of choices —
mere advise is not enough.

But when faced with a commandment
or choice is not to follow good advice or bad,
but to follow the God of the Universe,
our Savior, Redeemer, and King.

And if it takes guilt’s pounding pressure
and sin’s so bitter pain
to make us choose to change, to turn
back to the path home again,

then I think that it was worth it,
the commandments that God gave.
And so, I’ll follow the commandments of God,
to live with Him again.

Gratitude Day 7: My Redeemer

I wanted to finish this week by talking about one thing I’m especially grateful for. Though I may not always remember to thank Him for it, truly everything I have is from God. I want to focus on one aspect of that, and #GiveThanks for my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and all that He has done for me.

I thought a very applicable passage to use in a poem on expressing gratitude to the Savior is Micah 6:6-8, one of my favorite Old Testament passages.

My Redeemer

How can I thank the Man,
Who, stooping with my heavy cross,
Ascended to the hill
Where He died?

How can I thank the Man
Who suffered every pain I know,
Every broken bone, every wounded heart,
All my hurt inside?

How can I thank the Man
Who lived to teach me how to live,
Setting an example, often lonely,
So I could have a stalwart guide?

How can I thank the Man
Who drunk the bitterest of cups,
Who has mourned when I have wept,
And comforted when I’ve cried.

How can I thank the Man?
Ten thousand rams are not enough,
Nor ten thousand rivers of oil,
However deep, however wide.

How can I thank the Man?
I’ll do justly, I’ll love mercy,
I’ll walk humbly with Him,
And forever with Him abide.

Gratitude Day 6: The Scriptures

I apologize for not posting this yesterday, I had a rough night:

One thing that has consistently been a source of strength and light in my life is the scriptures. If I turn to them with a willing and open heart, I am very often able to receive answers to the questions I have, even if they may not be the answers I want. I want to #GiveThanks for the scriptures.

Scriptures

Whatever you are feeling,
Whatever’s in your heart,
Someone else has felt it too,
And recorded it, in part.

Have you ever just felt lonely?
Moroni knows how that is.
His family dead, his life in danger,
You can read how he lived.

And what about discouraged?
Alma and Amulek have this addressed:
Read of how they carried on
When in prison, with seemingly no success.

When you feel like everyone’s against you,
Nephi’s got your back.
His brothers murmured and even beat him,
But read how his kindness never lacked.

And any feeling you’ve ever felt
Has been felt by our Savior, dear.
Read how He died so you can live,
When you need Him, He’ll be near.

These heroes of the pages
Really lived, and really felt
The emotions that I’ve gone through,
I can read, and look to them for help.

Gratitude Day 5: The Plan of Salvation

One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon, as well as one we are studying this week for Come Follow Me, is Ether 12:4. In that verse, Moroni teaches that “whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” In short, our faith in God leads us to hope for and seek something better, His plan is for us to become like and return to Him. I want to #GiveThanks for the Plan of Salvation and it’s impact on my life.

This poem is kind of based off of one of my favorite poems, Choose Something Like a Star, by Robert Frost; and one of my favorite quotes, which I first heard from President Thomas S. Monson, in his devotional Decisions Determine Destiny: “Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But . . . you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny.”

The Plan of Salvation

I walk along life’s paths,
with many blind corners,
many unknowns ahead,
and few road signs —
I often get lost.

The only things constant are
the world changing around me,
and the ever unchanging stars.

Some travelers I’ve met on my journey
have told me that the stars should be guides —
“You can’t walk far enough to reach them,
but they’ll always lead you true.”

Others say — “Stars are useless,
all that matters is the path.”
Though if you don’t know where you’re going,
there are so many paths to take,
and I don’t know where to go.

I try to follow the stars.
They remind me that, in the chaos of the universe,
something is eternally true,
eternally pointing
to a final destination
where God knows I belong.

Gratitude Day 4: Nature

One of my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon is Alma 30:44. Alma declaims that the wonders of nature denote the existence of a God. I personally also believe that the beauty of nature denotes the goodness of God, and today I want to #GiveThanks for the wonders of God’s nature

Nature

If the earth has the power of volcanoes and lightning,
How much more powerful is earth’s Creator?
If the earth has the kindness of butterflies and sunsets,
How much kinder is the earth’s Savior?

If the earth makes us stand in awe with sunsets and mountains,
How much more in awe will we be of earth’s Almighty?
If the earth has the love of the rain and the sunshine,
How much more loving is earth’s Lamb at the Slaughter?

Gratitude Day 3: Repentance

I know how much I mess up, and I want to #GiveThanks for the divine gift of repentance.

Repentance

For every stumble, there’s a helping hand,
Every wrong road has a way back.
For ever closed door, there’s an open one,
Every small light keeps off the black

For every missed chance, there’s a second one,
Every friend lost could return.
For every test failed, another’s given,
Every mistake is a fact learned.

For every pain, there’s a relief,
Every prayer has an answer.
For every sin there’s a solace,
Every debt has a Savior.

Gratitude Day 2: Revelation

I got to give an Elder’s quorum lesson Sunday morning on the talk Ask, Seek, and Knock, by Milton Camargo. He discusses in that talk how revelation is something he is grateful for, and I agree. I don’t know where I would be without the “guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost”, as President Nelson put it, and so I want to #GiveThanks for the divine gift of revelation.

Revelation

Have you ever been walking,
and tried to see how far you could walk
with your eyes closed?

I can’t walk very long —
a few seconds at most —
before anxiety and fear
force my eyes open,
even if just for a moment,
to see a snapshot of the path ahead
before I take one more step.

I wonder how I could possibly live
if I always walked like that,
with my eyes usually closed
to the path ahead of me.

Afterwards, I’m more grateful
for the gift of sight,
the sun’s guiding light,
the trees and path alike,
that I missed with my eyes held shut.

And then I think how often,
I go hours or even days,
without opening my eyes
in prayer to the Lord
and His wonderful light
that guides my eternal path.

Gratitude Day 1: Friends

In following the Prophet’s advice, I wanted to post a poem every day this week, instead of just on Sunday as I usually do, listing things I am grateful for. Today I wanted to #GiveThanks for the many friends I have, and the times they help me in my life.

Friends

Friends who let me talk to them 
When I just need to talk,
And get it all out in the air,

Friends who sit there while I cry,
When I feel like crying is all I can do,
To let my emotions out.

Friends who accept my cookies and hugs
When that’s all I can give,
Though they need so much more. 

Friends who make me feel like I belong,
When loneliness is heavy on my mind
And belonging makes it better. 

Friends make life a better place,
So thank you, God, for all my friends,
And please, help me be a good friend, too. 

The man who wasn’t crucified

In church today, during sacrament meeting, one of the speakers made a comment that he heard once from a Baptist Preacher: “Jesus had to be treated like Barabbas for Barabbas to be treated like Jesus.” I thought that was an intriguing thought, and I turned it into this poem. 

The man who wasn’t crucified

Imagine yourself as Barabbas. 
Facing certain death
For your mistakes and crimes:
Murder, sedition, and insurrection.

Suddenly, guards bring you out in chains. 
The crowd is angry, but not at you —
At a strange, quiet man,
Who doesn’t look like a criminal. 

Pilate asks who the crowd will free,
And somehow, they call your name. 
In disbelief, but also relief, you walk away,
Chains unlocked, now a free man. 

Maybe you later go watch the man on the cross,
Dying instead of you. 
Or later hear stories of how he lived
And did miracles for the poor. 

Maybe you later change your life
When given this second chance,
And try to live as that man, Jesus, no longer could,
To make up for his unjust death.

One thing I know, that fateful day,
When the innocent man died,
Barabbas was not the only man
Whose life was saved by Jesus’ death. 

The Jerusalem News

I was reading through my old mission notebook and found this fun little poem. I thought it was a cool way of saying that if we aren’t willing to open ourselves up to Christ, no amount of evidence will change that.

The Jerusalem News

Originally written 9/19/2018

The daughter ran home excitedly,
“Dad, I saw up on the road
a man who healed the sick
and cast out devils from the poor!”

The father looked up at his girl
from his morning Jerusalem News
and said “Sweetie, I’m sure it’s false
and a scam, it isn’t true.”

She came back another day,
“Dad, the man I talked about,
raised his friend from up the dead,
he stood and walked around!”

The dad sat, unimpressed,
with the morning paper and said,
“It’s all a fake, I’m sure of it.
I know what I’ve read.”

The daughter trudged in sad one day,
“That wondrous man of miracles —
they took him, now he’s dead.
It’s just so unbelievable.”

“Serves him right,” the father said,
“He taught odd, new things.
He said he was the Son of God,
he said he was our King.”

A few days later, she ran inside,
bursting through the door:
“He came back! He’s risen!
He came to life once more!”

The father shook his head.
“He can’t even stay dead right.”
He turned back to his newspaper
and read in the morning light.

Those who look and come to Christ
see the miracles He’s done,
see Him as who he really is —
God’s miraculous son.

But those who look no further
than the things they read or hear
Never get the wonderful blessing
of having their Savior near.