December 15, 2008, Observation:
I love this holiday time of the year for many reasons. One thing I enjoy is going to Church and seeing the astonishing array of holiday neckties worn by the men and boys. I have always been intrigued by neckties, who invented them, why do we wear them, what purpose do they serve, and etc. I used to have quite a collection myself that I enjoyed wearing, but 20 years ago I traded them all in for just one "breathtaking necktie" I wear daily.
This "breathtaking necktie" connects me to my ventilator which pumps 12 breaths of air into my lungs each minute -- I love every one of them. Without this "necktie" which connects me to my life support I wouldn't be here writing this observation.
Over the last 20 years my life support system has failed me four different times. On three of the occasions, Jo Anne has been able to bring me back from a state of unconsciousness without getting the medical world involved. The last time we were not so fortunate and I was in a coma for eight hours requiring the assistance of police, paramedics, and hard-working ER/ICU professionals, accompanied by priesthood blessings and much prayer. The first three experiences I can remember in vivid detail, but have no recollection of the last. Finally awakening in the hospital, the last thing I could recall doing was eating a hot dog at Costco. Was it the Costco hot dog that almost "done me in?" I don't seem to enjoy them nearly as much as I used to, but Costco will be relieved to know it wasn't a tainted hot dog that was the cause of my brush with death, but rather a malfunction in my life support system.
It is a rather humbling experience to absolutely know -- not in theory but in actual fact -- that if you are disconnected from your life support that death will quickly follow within a few short minutes. I am no medical doctor and have not researched the subject but I would imagine that most people die because they quit breathing.
My rather unique situation has helped me to understand and appreciate the truthfulness of what Jesus taught his apostles just before going into the Garden of Gethsemane that night of nights as recorded by John. "I AM the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me... I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." [John 15: 1-5, emphasis added]
I believe John recorded very accurately what the Lord said to the apostles on that occasion. Jesus didn't just say he was "the vine" but that he was the "true vine." The implication is that there are other vines we can attach ourselves to -- false philosophies, precepts, organizations, etc. -- but unless we attach ourselves to the "true vine" we will not be able to bring forth "much fruit." As the Savior said "... the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine." Unless we are attached to our life support -- Christ -- we can do nothing!"
I am convinced that, in a spiritual sense, we are as dependent on Christ each minute and hour of the day for our spiritual life support as I am totally dependent upon my electrical and mechanical life support system to keep me alive physically.
I have seen people in the midst of life's most challenging problems and trials sever themselves from the true vine and have watched them die spiritually almost as quickly as I would physically if my life support system were to fail me. Truthfully, unless we are attached to Christ we can do nothing!
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the 70 in the October, 2008, General Conference beautifully and truthfully said:
"... Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love, and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier... There is only one way to happiness and fulfillment. Jesus Christ is the Way. Every other way, any other way, whatever other way is foolishness."
I know with a sure knowledge that if I detach myself from my life support I will die almost immediately. I also have a sure knowledge that if I detach myself from the "true vine" that unhappiness, depression, and despair will surely follow.
"There is only one way to happiness and fulfillment. Jesus Christ is the Way. Every other way, any other way, whatever other way, is foolishness."