November 11, 2007, Observation:
Well, I let Jo Anne talk me into it. Last week we went out and bought a new, modified, Toyota Sienna van. We aren't rich -- just stupid, I suppose. Not knowing my life expectancy I told her I would like to go out in style when it was my time which she thought was a very good idea, although I was a tad disappointed she agreed so readily to any plans I had regarding my demise.
The Toyota is light-years better than the Dodge vans we have driven over the years. The Japanese do such a wonderful job -- it makes you wonder who really won World War II. In our new Toyota we seem to float effortlessly, and silently I might add, down the freeway. I can only compare the way our Dodge went down the freeway to a covered wagon traveling over rocks and ruts with those iron rims and no shocks.
Actually we are the proud owners of two vans as we are trying to sell the Dodge at this time -- better be careful what I say about the Dodge until we have made the appropriate deal. A few days ago my VIP (Very Important Philipino) caregiver, Rey, came into the bedroom to begin the process of getting me ready for the day. I asked him if he had seen Jo Anne and he said he thought it was her washing two vans out in our driveway. I told him when she came in I was going to demonstrate what constitutes a beautiful and successful marriage relationship. Sure enough, at the perfect moment she ran into the bedroom to choose the outfit of the day. I asked her where she had been all morning and she said, "Outside washing the vans." I asked her if she thought she had done a good job and she was only slightly offended at the question as she assured me that nobody could have done it better than her. I said, "But what about the windows -- I'll bet they will be streaky when the sun shines in." She responded, "Oh no!" She then told me how she had a special solution and a squeegee that did the windows better than our Mexican brothers at the local car wash. I then said, "But what about the chrome wheels? I'll bet they have hard water spots all over them." She bristled a bit but told me about her special solution for shining up and making them look like new. And then she said, "Don't even ask me about the tires because I have already put "Armour All" on them and they look great!" I could see that Rey was duly impressed with this interchange and I looked at him and said, "When you can have this kind of conversation with your wife you know you have the greatest marriage possible -- at least as a husband!"
Now don't you husbands get after your wives for not taking better care of your automobiles. Many wives never get the rare opportunity of being married to a quadriplegic on life support, and so many "normal" husbands never really come to know all of the hidden talents their wives may possess.
Seriously though, as I think of all that Jo Anne has done for me over the years I cannot help but think she has passed the Savior's litmus test of true discipleship contained in John 13: 34-35. One of my favorite hymns over the years, and probably many of yours as well, is based on these two verses. It is one of those late-night and early morning melodies, accompanied by the challenging words of Jesus, that run through my mind almost constantly when I am unable to sleep. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." [John 13:34-35]
I hope that just because these words are well known and oft repeated they will never become trite or lose their power to influence our behavior. I do believe that if we would learn to love one another as the Savior did -- ultimately giving his life for each one of us -- that most family and world problems would be instantly resolved. I believe the love the Savior described begins at home between husbands and wives and then extends on to their children and grandchildren. Beyond that we all have multiple opportunities each day of our lives to interact with business associates, fellow students, other members of the church, doctors, dentists, mechanics, gardeners, and etc. and etc. And how will we ultimately be known as Christ's true disciples? "... if ye have love one to another!" Is this love given grudgingly and only out of duty? I don't think so if it is the kind of love Christ has for us.
Sometimes Jo Anne expresses the sentiment to me that she feels that somehow, because she has never held hardly any high visibility administrative or teaching positions in the Church, she is somehow not as valiant in her testimony and commitment to the Savior as others may be. How wrong could she be based on the Savior's litmus test of true discipleship? If I understand the Savior's challenge to us to become his true disciples, Jo Anne is the "truest" disciple of Christ I have ever met. I'm afraid that if I were in her shoes I might come up lacking just a bit.