Patience brings fruit
Thank you for your prayers across the miles. I have definitely felt them this week. I am sad to hear about David Whitney. My prayers are with them in this difficult time. I know that the hands of the Lord are in all things. It is in the trial that we make needed corrections and become more like the Master.
President Monestel and his wife went to a Mission President’s seminar in Guatemala this week and so we ended up taking care of his kids and running a lot of errands. I spent a lot of time in the car to say the least. AS a result, I had a lot of time to reflect on the mission, on my life, on the blessings the Lord gives me daily. The time continues to fly by and I am beginning to realize that I need to take advantage of every minute.
We were teaching Francisco and his sons this week when I received more light. As the scriptures say, precept upon precept, line upon line. I find myself learning new things every day. That is the most amazing thing! Francisco is a recent convert of about 2 months. Like most senior men in Nicaragua, he has been without work, in his case for over a year. When we taught him about the gospel we promised him that if he only put God first, that he would have food and everything else he needed. The amazing thing is that God blesses us immediately after we have been obedient to a given principle. But that can also be a challenge for some. Just after being baptized, he began to find work. The problem is that most times the jobs that come at first are only on Sunday. Many of the recent converts have trouble turning down a job when they have gone without for months or years. They have opportunities to show their faith. Unfortunately, many fall into Satan’s little trap and stop going to church.
Honestly I have seen this problem in many recent converts and less actives. It is almost as if the very blessing which God gives them becomes their vice. I pondered on and thought about how to teach these people. It was in the moment of teaching these three jobless men this week that the Lord gave me clarity. We used a parable like this one in the very moment that we were in the lesson to answer their question. I was taught myself.
A hungry man prays to God one morning, “Please give me food to feed my family. My wife is weak and my children small.” Upon arising from the prayer, the man exercises his faith and goes to the market to look for his answer. As he searches the small stands for something he might eat, his eyes rest upon a small fruit tree. The woman selling the tree throws out an offer, “20 pesos.” He humbly bargains away all that he has and he receives the tree rejoicing. Upon arriving home, he shares his good fortune with his wife and children, telling them of the marvelous fruit which the Lord will give them in years to come. He plants. He waits. He prays.
The days pass. Rain and sunshine couldn't keep this humble man from waiting for the tree to grow. Days turned to weeks and his excitement grew to be greater than his hunger. When the tree reached his height he thought, “Surely, soon the fruit will come.”
He saw the flowers come but the fruit was nowhere in sight. Would God answer his prayer? Where was the food he had asked for so long ago? As the month mark approached, the hunger became too much and his excitement turned into disappointment. His visits became less frequent and his trips to find quick food more common.
It was after such a trip that he took one final look at the tree upon arriving and he quickly decided to cut the tall, robust trunk. “Surely the Lord has proved true,” he thought. “With this tree I can sell wood in the market and buy food for my family!” He removed his axe from the shed and he made his first swings. Several minutes later the tree fell and he began to cut the branches. He collected them neatly and reviewed their lengths to make them uniform. When he grabbed one particular branch he was surprised to see his hand stained red. There was no pain, no cut, no rash. He realized it was something much smaller. There in his hand were the squishy beginnings of the first small tree fruit. The man looked at the fruit and then he looked at the freshly cut branches. He looked upwards slowly and then he fell to his knees and began to cry. If only he had waited.
How many of us give up God’s greatest blessings for partaking when they aren’t fully ripe. Surely God has answered our prayers and provided the ways, but He tries our patience too. Although all obedience has its answer immediately, the fruits require time to grow. These recent converts in impatience have cut the very tree that will give them future spiritual fruit for a simple monetary recompense. How many years would this family have eaten fresh fruit under the branches of a shady tree? Would healthy young children have swung from the branches or happily climbed its long limbs?
Really, much of the disobedience to the commandments (Sunday worship, Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, etc) takes root in not being able to see the future fruit behind the trunk of the tree. We put our own time table on God’s blessings and we lose the blessing all together.
I am so grateful for the blessings which our Father in Heaven bestows upon us. Let us not take them wrongly and create our own vice. Let us be patient in the difficult times for there is always something better waiting if we can out wait the natural man.
Elder Grant Russell