Last week we spent a wonderful 10 days in St. George, Utah. We love our family and friends who live in that beautiful area, but as the daily temperature hovered between 105° and 110°, we could understand why J. Golden Kimball at an August stake conference held in the old St. George tabernacle many years ago, said to the saints, "If I owned a home in St. George and one in Hell I would sell the one in St. George and move!"
On this trip, and of course at other times in our lives, we came to experience first-hand the truthfulness of some time-tested adages ("an adage is a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation" -- Merriam-Webster dictionary) like: "If it isn't one thing, it's your mother!" And, "It is always darkest just before it gets totally black!" We also saw and experienced for the umpteenth time in our lives Murphy's Law in action: "Murphy's law is an adage in Western culture that broadly states that if anything can go wrong, it will... It is most often cited as "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" (or, alternately, "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way." [Wikipedia]
I had been nursing a pressure sore on an unmentionable part of my anatomy for some time. All I can say about it is that it has been a real "bummer." In St. George, I was sitting in my wheelchair too many hours at a time, and that, coupled with the hot, dry, St. George air began to get the best of me. The sore begin to get worse and the last couple of days of our trip I spent most of the time in bed.
I was scheduled to speak at a fireside on Sunday evening, June 22, at the Sunriver Chapel. My good friend, John Nelson, had spent the better part of a month advertising the event and was expecting a large audience. I spent all that Sunday in bed and planned on getting up at about 5 p.m. to be able to speak at 7 p.m. Jo Anne and Doug Holladay, a longtime friend in whose home we were staying, got me already to be hoisted out of bed and placed in the chair and that is the exact moment when Murphy's Law manifested itself. The tilt and recline mechanism in the chair went totally dead. The back of the chair was at such an angle that I couldn't sit in it. Jo Anne and Doug and my brother-in-law, Rod Stuart did everything imaginable to solve the problem but there was no way. We tried to call a number of medical supply stores in St. George to see if we could find a wheelchair repair man but on a Sunday evening it was impossible. Jo Anne finally stood up, wiped the sweat from her brow, and said, "I'm going to go speak at that fireside!" She went! I stayed in bed! She did a great job as I knew she would, and I was very proud of her and her courage to not panic or give up as we were walloped with the bitter reality of Murphy's Law.
Monday morning our wheelchair people in Southern California were able to instruct a St. George repairman by phone how to Jerry-rig the tilt and recline on my chair so we could get me in it, into the van, and seven hours later limp into Orange County. I have been in bed ever since but I'm happy to report that the sore is much improved and I should be back to "normal" in the near future.
We all experience Murphy's Law in our lives. The unexpected always seems to happen at the most undesirable and inopportune time. I believe our challenge is to learn how to deal with these bumps in the road of life and not let them get the best of us, because they are inevitable.
Some of you have heard me talk about these kinds of events as the "broken bows" of life. I, of course, am referring to Lehi's family and their experience with Nephi's broken bow as they waded through the wilderness.
When Nephi broke his bow, the family felt this was just too much and so unfair. Even Lehi, a great prophet of God, could see no way out of this horrible predicament. Nephi recorded: "And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord." [1 Nephi 16:20]
Whenever I am subjected to Murphy's Law, I think of this incident from the Book of Mormon. I believe the "natural man" in us reacts far too often the way even great Lehi did when confronted with our "broken bows." We are tempted to become "exceedingly sorrowful", and at times, when we feel life has pushed us too far, we may even "murmur against the Lord."
I am able to live each day only because of electrical and mechanical devices. Over the years anything that can go wrong with these things has gone wrong. I have had more near death experiences than I can even count. In the beginning, when my equipment would fail, I would start to hyperventilate, have a panic attack, and I hate to admit it, become "exceedingly sorrowful." With the passage of time however, and as my faith has increased, I have tried to adopt Nephi's attitude and simply go make another bow, get on with the hunt, and realize this is not the end of the world. I have discovered that really everything in life that seems so challenging at the moment is simply a "broken bow." I suppose that even a terminal disease is only a "broken Bow" because, knowing the end is near, we can plan for our entrance into the spirit world and hopefully be better prepared than we would be otherwise.
I really am unable to put into words what Nephi's example has meant to me in my paralyzed state. He truly is one of my heroes because of his attitude of gratitude and faith.
After a particularly difficult experience with his brothers who had just tried to kill him, he said: "Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions." [1 Nephi 18:16]
Can we be like Nephi? I don't know, but I think we must try. And yes, it is true, "If it isn't one thing it's your mother!"