It’s been quite a year, this 2020. In many ways it was rough on the entire planet. In other ways, it marked the birth of some unexpected and wonderful blessings. Both experiences are available to us regardless of our circumstances.
Here is one man who found the hidden gifts inside his challenges this year. He wrote:
November 13, 2020
A number of experiences I have had this year prompted this message to you.
In August I lost my father my 90 year old father to COVID 19. Because of my faith and knowledge of Our Fathers Plan of Happiness I knew it was his time to go and did not place blame on anyone.
On three nights following my father’s death I was allowed to review some of my favorite memories and experiences with my Dad. It became very clear to me on the third night the divine guided influence my father had in my life.
My parents encouraged me to start taking piano at the age of five. I would get up at 5:30 and practice a half hour and then ride my bicycle around the small little town of Blackfoot Idaho. Some six years later I was having a personality conflict with my piano teacher and was not enjoying practicing. I expressed my displeasure of continuing lessons. My Dad had told me that the most important thing was learning to play the hymns. Our Bishop in fact pulled me into Priesthood Meeting to start playing the piano at the age of 11 1/2. He said they were tired of singing “acapella”.
A few weeks after I started playing in Priesthood my Dad took me into my parents room for a talk. He shared with me that my grandmother and grandpa had purchased a piano when he was about ten years of age and asked him to take lessons. He didn’t want to but they made an agreement with him that if he would take lessons and religiously practice for six months and didn’t want to continue, he could quit which he did. He continued explaining to me that not a day has gone by, within several years that he quit, that he regretted not continuing to take piano lessons. He said he would never let me quit and I would never forgive him or myself if he let me do so. Not only was I not going to stop piano lessons but I would now start taking organ and piano lessons from a new teacher. For six years I would go to the local chapel to practice the piano and organ for 45 minutes each.
My senior year at one point I remember thinking I would love working for the Church someday and I know I am not very accomplished but would love working with Church music program somehow. Skip ahead some 30 years and I am working at Church Headquarters in Purchasing. My boss pulls me into his office and asks me to take over all the piano and organ contracts for the Church and also be on the Church’s Musical Instrument Selection Committee.
I didn’t remember the thought/vision I had my senior year until three years later when writing a birthday card to my father expressing my appreciation for him and his influence in my life especially about not letting me quit piano but having me start organ also. At that point the thought I had my senior year flooded into my mind and a calm reassurance came over me that the Lord is in the details and that my Dad had been His instrument years before in directing me the way I should go. I then shared this with my father in the birthday wish and later in person.
Along the way I was privileged to play organ at a 12 stake fireside in front of some 18000 people in attendance in the Marriott Center at BYU and thousands watching on TV. I was able to play the Tabernacle Organ and Conference Center Organ, a couple of Cathedral Organs in Germany and a for a non members funeral in a Catholic Cathedral in Berlin Germany.
I didn’t have any music so I played hymns from memory including “Oh My Father”. The catholic priest came up to me after the service and thanked me the prelude and postlude and asked about the music/hymns he had never heard before. I shared the text to ‘Oh My Father’ and my testimony of the truthfulness of that text. He smiled and said, “You know, that makes sense.”
Shortly after becoming acquainted with you some 15 years ago and reading the Jackrabbit Factor I wrote down a long term vision. One part of the vision was, I would like to be retired at age 62 with enough funds coming in monthly so we wouldn’t have to worry about money and have enough for our needs.
Years later, the summer of 2016, I receive a distinct impression that I should retire the end of the year. I questioned the impression and researched the viability. I found that after 33 years of service at the Church, which I had, the retirement benefits do not increase. I also found that my wife and I could start receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits. Adding the two together it came to a sum that I knew we could live off of. I made it a matter of prayer and fasting. I went to the Lord with two different options. Once I made the decision to retire I received the most warm calm peaceful feeling I have ever had in my life. As you can imagine that reinforcing experience made the preparation, planning and eventual retirement a lot easier.
A few months after retirement the main reason I was to retire became very clear.
We were taking care of our two year old grandson for our pregnant daughter who was restricted to bed rest and another one year old granddaughter with cerebral palsy with a feeding tube for food and medication, and helping with five other grandchildren when needed when my wife fell and broke her right dominant elbow.
All of a sudden I was babysitter for two young children sometimes more, chief cook and bottle washer, clothes washer, housecleaner and tried to be a doting husband and I even learned to curl her hair. (what a blessing to see a little of what mothers go through and experience everyday) Our daughter that who was restricted to bed rest delivered a baby boy Jude at 23 weeks old and was given an 8% chance of living. He spent over five months at Primary Children’s Hospital having 4 or more surgeries finally coming home 5 ½ months after his birth on morphine and other medications along with the oxygen 100% of the time.
I learned how to administer the medications and food at the proper time and the nuances of care of a super preemie to give the parents a break once and awhile. Jude is now three years old and truly is a growing miracle. Shortly before Jude came home our daughter in law and son with the 1 ½ year old cerebral palsy daughter delivered a little girl with spinal bifida. Again another baby on feeding tube and oxygen.
I can’t tell you how many times I was driven to my knees asking for strength and guidance. Looking back now I am in awe how much the Lord helped lift me up and let me understand how I was the one being blessed. Not many grandparents have the opportunity to help raise and see their grandchildren on almost a daily basis.
Without me being retired I wouldn’t have had these marvelous experiences and close relationships with my grandchildren.
Thank you Lawrence for sharing. It is a testament to the reality of God’s hand in each of our lives. Once in a while we get a glimpse that our walk through life is not as empty, lonely, or as meaningless as we sometimes think. Each experience is designed for our highest good, and the sooner we begin to recognize that, the sooner we get to discover and sit in awe at His plan for each of us.
Related: My beliefs about God and His Plan
Related: Hidden Treasures (free download)
Do you have a story to share? Let me know!