Sunday, December 21, 2008

Great Expectations, Exhortations, Music to the Ears

"Long ago, the renowned author Charles Dickens wrote of opportunities that await. In his classic volume entitled Great Expectations, Dickens described a boy by the name of Philip Pirrip, more commonly known as Pip. Pip was born in unusual circumstances. He was an orphan. He wished with all his heart that he were a scholar and a gentleman. Yet all of his ambitions and all of his hopes seemed doomed to failure. Do you young men sometimes feel that way? Do those of us who are older entertain these same thoughts?

"Then one day a London lawyer by the name of Jaggers approached little Pip and told him that an unknown benefactor had bequeathed to him a fortune. The lawyer put his arm around the shoulder of Pip and said to him, 'My boy, you have great expectations.'

"Tonight, as I look at you young men and realize who you are and what you may become, I declare, 'You have great expectations'--not as the result of an unknown benefactor, but as the result of a known benefactor, even our Heavenly Father, and great things are expected of you."

Thomas S. Monson, "The Call for Courage," Ensign, May 2004, 54

Although I probably should not be, I am impressed with President Monson's practice of citing literature in his talks. I have always looked to General Conference with great anticipation for the opportunity to hear the prophet speak. However, President Monson's use of literary works within his talks tends to peek my interest. It certainly makes it easier for me to listen.

Easier . . .

Should it be easy to listen to the prophet? In a way, the great expectations we all have before us lead to a trail that is not easy to traverse unless we embrace the gospel and the Savior. Decisions we make might lead us to places we'll find to be hard.

The Savior pleaded for us to "come unto [Him], all . . . that labour and are heavy laden. and [He] will give [us] rest."

Is this the easy way? I know that when we consider the true consequences of such choices, it is difficult to suggest any other way is easier. Many times, however, we are faced with decisions and are blinded by our desire for instant gratification, a need to fit in, or our pride telling us we know better. If this were not true, the whole world would be choosing to embrace the Savior and His way.

Should listening to the Prophet be easy? I guess this has been something I've thought about for a while now. Does the ease with which I find listening to his message interfere with my ability to actually hear what he is telling me? Are we really in a position to have the easy given to us?

A discussion in which I involved myself a couple months ago touched on this very subject. In reference to General Conference, it was suggested the world was not in a place to hear the feel good but needed to be told what they were doing wrong. Does the uplifting message always feel good? Could a message from the prophet contend for necessary change yet still be easy to hear?

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