As a pre-mission teenager studying at Brigham Young University, I took an interesting writing class. It has been satisfying to look over some of the papers I wrote for that class and to see how my understanding and writing style have progressed. While this text certainly doesn’t represent my best work, I thought I’d include it here just for fun.
October 7, 1998
I sure love the song “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” I’ve never picked a favorite hymn before, but I think that’s the one. Nearer, my God, to thee, Nearer to thee! What plea could please God more? What supplication could more fully satisfy his divine favor? We, His children, have left His presence and now dwell here on the earth, yet He has not left us! We can still cry unto Him “Nearer, my God, to thee” and we can still have faith that He will hear our plea!
It’s hard to draw close to God sometimes. The world speaks so loudly, and the Lord uses only a still small voice. Yet how much sweeter is that voice than the cacophony of the world! It may be hushed, but it can penetrate to the very soul. I sure wish I could more fully align my will with His. I constantly struggle to improve, yet I’m so far from what He would have me be! The world and all its troubles seem to beckon, and so often life’s difficulties get in the way of my relationship with God.
“E’en though it be a cross That raiseth me.” Christ atoned in Gethsemene and again on the cross. He understands the world’s troubles better than I will ever know. I ought to recognize the world’s problems, but I oughtn’t to let the world’s voice speak louder that my God’s. Despite the difficulties I face, I ought to look to God to live.
“Still all my song shall be Nearer, my God, to thee!” How ironic that our trials and tribulations draw us away from God, for it is in times of difficulty that we need Him most. Despite the world’s voice, I must learn to cry unto my Lord “Nearer, my God, to thee!” I must learn to harken to His council rather than the world’s wisdom and, yes, at times, even what my own intellect tells me. What must I do to trust in the Lord forever?
Nearer, my God, to thee, Nearer to thee!
December 8, 1998
We pass them in the halls of BYU; they look just like we do. Some are skinny, and others are a little over-weight. Some have ruddy complexions while others have skin that looks like freshly fallen snow. Some can speak with eloquence, and others can hardly utter an unawkward word. When we walk by them, sometimes we smile. Other times we don’t. Sometimes we say hello, and other times we just stroll by, not even seeing them, not even realizing what they are. They have a quiet sort of power that goes unnoticed by most. Every once and a while a few of us are privileged to get to know them a little better, and then their once quiet power shines before us in celestial brilliance. These are the true Christians, the few who really understand what it means to follow the Savior with complete devotion. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of them, and I am all the better for having known them. They are examples. They are types of The True Christian.
Jesus Christ must have been like one of these. Many, not realizing what He was, passed Him on the streets of Jerusalem. Perhaps they smiled at Him and said hello, or perhaps they, like we, walked by, never realizing what He was, never realizing that He was the very Son of God. It was by His quiet power, a power then and even now largely unknown to men, that the worlds were created. It was by His quiet power that the human race first set foot of one of those worlds. It was by His quiet power that the great atonement was wrought, which rescued men from their own sins and offered them exaltation and eternal life. Yet most did not realize this as they passed him on the streets. Many did not see his true celestial brilliance because they could see no more than a man. Just a carpenter’s son. Perhaps we, too, would not have seen Him as He really was. After all, how often do we fail to see His continence in the true Christians that walk among us? Or maybe we would have seen the sparkle in His eye. Maybe we would have looked into his soul through those eyes and seen Him, really seen Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the First-born of the Father, the Savior of the World.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have recognized Him in the flesh. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been righteous enough to see the spark of the Father, His Father, in His eyes. But He would have recognized me. Like so many of the true Christians who walk among us, The True Christian would have seen the weaknesses in my soul and would have said, “How are you, Jacob?” He would have talked to me and comforted me. And that is why I love Him now just as I would have loved Him on the streets of Jerusalem, had I passed Him on some dark night two millennia ago. He talks and comforts me when I need Him the most.