While some Latter-day Saints show genuine faith and obedience by resisting social pressure to load up on tattoos and body piercing, not one iota of faith is required for me in that department. The temptation to mutilate my body and create new sites for infection is right up there with the craving to fill out IRS forms or to have my teeth drilled with nothing but rap music to ease the pain. If I became a total apostate and atheist looking for ways to rebel, I still don’t think I’d consider tattoos and body piercing. There are much healthier and more attractive ways to be bad. Or to be good.
The trials of my faith revolve around other things. One thing in particular, sometimes almost as unpleasant as being pierced or needled, tends to challenge my faith: meetings, especially Saturday meetings. In the past few years since being released as bishop, Saturday mornings and early Sunday mornings became important times for me to catch up on things like e-mail, updating my Web site, editing photos for my hobby of photography, or putting in a few extra hours for patents and publications for my day job. I really need that time. But when I was asked to serve as High Priest Group Leader a few months ago, I suddenly lost much of my Sunday morning time. And now I’ve been asked to also attend a weekly 7:00 AM meeting for ward missionary correlation, a meeting that typically eats up nearly 2 hours, including travel. Ouch. Now I’ve really got something to murmur about (can you hear the murmuring?), but I have tried to act with some degree of faith and still go. In fact, the meetings have been quite good and are actually valuable and even enjoyable – it’s just the time that hurts. The problem is not the meetings, but my lack of faith, I guess, and my unwillingness to let go of a few things (like blogging, perhaps?).
Last night, after thinking about obedience and sacrifice while writing my previous blog entry on an amazing baptismal service (see “Baptismal Surprise“), I went to sleep too late, thinking about how unfortunate it was that I had another meeting Saturday morning. I didn’t set the alarm since I’ve been getting up naturally pretty early and figured I’d be up in plenty of time for the meeting.
The next thing I remember was having a vivid dream. In the dream, I could see a clock on the wall showing that it was 6:50 AM. I heard the voice of one of my sons saying, “Dad, it’s 6:50. Don’t you think we should be getting in the car to go to the meeting?” It sounded like my third son, Benjamin, but it may have been my second son, Daniel. Soon to go on a mission to Nevada, Daniel has just been called as a ward missionary and is supposed to go to these meetings with me – a big plus as far as the meetings go since it’s extra time to spend with that awesome young man, but tennis would be even better, one might argue. After hearing my son say that, I had these distinct thoughts: “Look, this is just a dream and it’s probably only 5 AM right now. But since my son is asking, I better check just to be sure.” I then woke up and instead of rolling over, decided that I had better check the clock just in case the dream was meaningful – and it was 6:50 AM. YIKES! And WOW!
I took a 60-second shower, got ready as quickly as I could, and rushed out the door with Daniel, who had gotten up just moments before I did. We were a few minutes late, but got there just in time for meaningful discussion after breakfast had been served (yes, our awesome Ward Mission Leader, Gordon Hale, really goes the extra mile by providing Belgian waffles for breakfast at these meetings – who could murmur about that??).
I shared my experience to the group after apologizing for my tardiness. It seems pretty clear to me: the Lord did want me to attend that meeting and intervened with a perfectly timed dream. After all, the request for leadership from High Priest Groups to be represented in weekly ward missionary correlation meetings is not the idea of anybody in Appleton – it’s a request from President Hinckley himself. Here is a matter of counsel from the Prophet that requires just as much faith from me as the counsel to avoid tattoos and excessive body piercing requires for more trendy Latter-day Saints. The sacrifice of one extra meeting a week is a painful one – think I’d rather be pierced (in a low-pain, low-infection-risk place, of course), but I need to wake up and show more obedience and less murmuring. The drama of the dream helped teach me that point.
6:50 AM – I hope I never forget that.