Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Kid, a Dog Named Tiger, and Some Thoughts About Christmas

This little reminiscence (another word to ask your parents about-if they can remember...) will probably be a short tale  Kind of like Hairy's (BDE).

When I was younger--now, wait, what does that mean?  It wouldn't make any sense to start a story with "When I was older"!  Because I couldn't have been older when I "was", now could I?  "When I was", relating to my age, already means when I was younger-It couldn't mean anything else.  Hmm, how to better start?...  OK, try this: (and ignore all of the preceding paragraph, if you don't mind).

When I was a lad of 5 or 6, or I could have been 7 or 8, I'm sure I wasn't over 9-anyway, it was quite some time ago and I was much younger than I am now (I think you can figure out that I was definitely not older than I am now-that would be quite Merlin-esque of me, don't you think).  OK, now that we have established that this happened when I was a young boy, we can get on with the tale.

 At this time of my life, I was lucky to have a dog named Tiger.  I'm not sure how he became my dog, and not one of my two brothers'.  Maybe it was because I fed him and played with him.  We shared many good things in life.  Including Tiger letting me sample his canned Horsemeat and Gravy (tasty!) that I bought for him at Farrer's market on the corner of 3rd East and 2700 South.
Tiger was good to me, he was able to listen, he would run around with me in the yard and follow me on my trusty Schwinn mega-bicycle.  Yes, this is the same bike that somehow attacked my little brother Steve and almost broke the poor kid.  Yes, I was riding the bike, but I promise-that bike had a mind of its own!  And Steve zigged when he should have zagged.

OK, where was I?  I was younger (OK, we discussed that), I had a dog named Tiger, (now, why do we name dogs after types of cats?), and...hmm-Oh yeah-Tiger was my best friend most of the time.  My brothers were-well, they were my brothers.  All of you with siblings understand what I mean, don't you?  Brothers (or sisters-but we didn't have one of those yet-Tammy comes in years later) are special and wonderful and can be your friends.  But sometimes they aren't.  A good dog can always be your friend.  But the dog can't be your brother.  And I wouldn't have traded either of my brothers for my dog.  Most of the time.  OK-we will return to Tiger and his part of this tale in a couple of minutes.  The next question will seem totally unrelated, but I guarantee this tale will make sense at the tail end.  I hope.  Ready?

Why did Jesus come to Earth?  Why was he born?  Why did he live a perfect life and then carry out the atonement?  I'll wait until you give your answers.  OK, Ready?

I think many of us would say that He came atoned for us so we could be forgiven of our sins and be able to live again after this life.  And that would be correct-but not the full answer.  I know this is an infinite blessing for us-to be cleansed of our sins-and to be able to live after this life, but there is more!

We have been taught the following in the scriptures (this is from Alma Chapter 7)-

10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

Now, if you read all of that above, you can tell your parents you did your scripture reading today.  

As you read these verses, try to find all of the reasons that Jesus came to earth.  I'll list some I see, in the order I see them-

He shall go forth, suffering-
    temptations of every kind
Why?-"that he might know how to succor (look up what this word means-or ask your folks, if you think they are feeling particularly smart tonight) his people according to their infirmities.

Also--"And he will take upon him death..."  Why?  "...that he may loose the bands of death"
Then-"...he will take upon him their infirmities..."  Why?  "..that he might know how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

Now, you might need to talk with your parents about what "infirmities"means.  It means mostly what it sounds like, but feel free to ask them so they can feel good about helping you learn something.  I'll wait.  OK, done?-Good.

What does all that mean?  It means that our Savior experienced life-including, somehow, all the pains, afflictions, temptations (of every kind!), death and infirmities-that we could ever experience in life.  And Why?  .
So that He could "succor his people".  (did you ask your parents what that word means?  If they didn't know, then look it up.)  It was so He could "rush to our aid".  It was so, when we have times when we know no one could possibly understand what we are going through, how bad, difficult, stinky, rotten life is for us, how there is absolutely no hope-if we can remember and lean and trust on Him, we can find relief.  For anything that troubles, hurts, saddens us or strips us of happiness and hope.  We can find in our Savior-that Babe born in Bethlehem-absolute empathy and Hope.  He knows how to succor us!

Now, what does this have to do with Tiger the dog?  There were times in my young life, just like in yours, when I felt abandoned by friends, scorned by brothers (or sisters, if I had had some then), ignored by parents, and basically wronged by the world.  I felt, in those times, that no one could possibly understand what I was feeling or going through, or how rotten my life was.  Except Tiger the dog.  I remember several times when Tiger and I would hide in our room (the room I shared with my 2 brothers-sound familiar Tanners?) or out behind the willows in our back yard and I would cry and tell Tiger all my troubles.  He would lay his head on my lap, watch me with his dark eyes and give me a little lick.  And my 6 year old troubles would start to become manageable.

Now, imagine that you had a Tiger the dog, only infinitely more able to understand and help you when you need it.  Now matter what  help you need.  Remember the list?  Pains, afflictions, temptations, infirmities?  That covers about everything, don't you think?  Tiger the dog could lick my face and help my heart feel a bit better.
The Savior can heal my heart and help me be a better person.  So I can help His other children.  That's when we best feel that our hearts have been healed.  (That's what happened to that old Grinch fellow.) We can talk about that another time.

What wonderful blessing from that Babe in a manger!  Oh, yes, if you look in verse 13 above it also tells us that He came to take upon Him our transgressions so our sins can be blotted out.  But you already knew that.

I hope that all of your hearts are happy and growing this Christmas time.  But I know we will all have times of trouble, despair, sadness and wo.  I really hope when those tough times hit us that we can remember to ask the Savior for relief and let Him rush to our aid.  Maybe some of his aid will come through your Mom or Dad or a sibling.  Or even your dog!

Then we can help others, our hearts will grow and hope will blossom in us and we can find Joy again.  Like Tiny Tim said-"God bless us, every one!"  And He can and does!

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