Sunday, November 30, 2008

Linger Longer

I believe that we are all painfully aware of our weaknesses.  I know that is surely the case with me.  I hate to report it, but I also believe Jo Anne is painfully aware of them as well.  She is very kind however, in that she does not broadcast them about.

One of my greatest challenges throughout my life is that I have been very jealous and possessive of my time.  It has always been far easier for me to give money than time.  Paying tithing, etc., has never been a challenge or a perceived sacrifice.  Giving of my time however is another story. 

Don't get me wrong, over my lifetime I have given freely of my time to others, but in my heart of hearts sometimes it has been given far too grudgingly.

My brother Darrel, eight years older than me, had an interesting experience during the BYU/Utah football game this year.  I am a strong BYU fan, but compared to my brother, I pale in passion, intensity, and longevity.  Just as the game was beginning last week the missionaries came to his home thinking they had a dinner appointment at that time. There had been some miscommunication and Darrel and his wife had gone out to eat lunch just before the elders arrived.  Darrel had settled down in front of his TV to watch this epic match between the "good guys" -- BYU, and the "villainous University of Utah Utes."  Shocked and horrified within, he recovered quickly and took the two elders out to dinner at a nearby restaurant missing the entire first half of the "biggest game" of the year.  The elders ate well as usual, but Darrel kind of choked down what little he could eat.  He was gracious, I believe, and was quite uncomplaining, as he explained to me what had happened.  Well, the last half of the game was nothing a true BYU fan would want to watch, so the "big game" was quite a wash for my brother.  I honestly don't believe I would have been so gracious.  I would have probably had the elders dig through the cupboards and refrigerator and fix themselves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Anyhow, I think my brother is on his way to ultimate sanctification and exaltation as evidenced by the way he handled this experience.

For some time now, at the end of certain stake meetings that are cut a little bit short on purpose, the member of the stake presidency who is conducting announces that we will dismiss to the cultural hall for a "Linger Longer" time.  Instead of rushing out and away from the building immediately, time is set aside for us to just visit and renew acquaintances with good friends that we don't see nearly often enough.  Of course, Jo Anne has never needed any one to invite her to "linger longer" in a social setting.  She has been "lingering longer" as long as I can remember. 

I am sure the concept is not necessarily original with our stake, but I personally believe it is a wonderful concept, especially for a time challenged person like me.  It is always a test for me to "linger longer" willingly and cheerfully.  There are so many other "important" things on my agenda that need to be done.

The life of the Savior has always been an inspiration to me as I have tried to learn to "linger longer", visiting with, and hopefully being blessed and blessing others in the process. I believe one of Jesus' most beautiful attributes was his sociability and willingness to "linger longer" with others.  It was not his purpose to give money to those in need, but to give of himself and his time, selflessly and constantly.  I carry many pictures of him in my mind that inspire me when tempted to not "linger longer" happily and willingly. 

For example, John's account of the Savior visiting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well [John 4] has always had a profound impact upon me.  Tired and hot he taught this woman, and a Samaritan at that, with all of his heart, revealing to her who he was and ultimately converting her and many of her friends and family in the adjacent village, because he was willing to "linger longer."
He was not too busy to assist his mother at the wedding feast by changing the water to wine -- his first recorded miracle.  I have often wondered how long he "lingered" there.  Wedding receptions are not my favorite thing I hate to admit and I usually try to "linger" as little as possible. 

After the resurrection he walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."  [Luke 24: 21]
It was not given to them to know who he was at that point and as he was about to part from them, Luke recorded the following:  " But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them."  [Luke 24: 29] It was while he "lingered longer" that he revealed himself to these two men as the resurrected and glorified Savior. 

Example after example of course could be cited of Jesus' willingness and desire to give of his time, not just to the multitudes, but to individuals in obscure settings as well. It seems to me that his entire life was all about "lingering longer" to bless the lives of others with his time and presence.

My favorite picture of his "lingering longer" however, is as he finishes his first day of ministering to the descendants of Lehi here in the Americas as the resurrected Christ, Mormon recorded:  "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.  And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you."  [3 Nephi 17:5-6] And then Jesus said: "Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them..." [3 Nephi 17:7]

I think I love this passage so much because I see myself in many of the categories Christ mentioned.  Just think of the joy that came to those who were paralyzed who could now walk -- I identify with that -- just because Jesus was willing to "linger longer."

I have a long way to go to approach Jesus' willingness and desire to "linger longer" with those who needed his help.  I think I am making progress though, but if we are ever visiting and you notice me looking over your shoulder at one of the three clocks I have hanging on the walls of my bedroom you have my permission to pull the air hose off my trachea!


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