I Don’t

“I Don’t” from Goldendate [Washington] Sentinel, Oct. 24 1918
My parents told me not to smoke—
I don’t;
Nor listen to a naughty joke—
I don’t.
They made it plain I must not wink
At pretty girls, or even think
About intoxicating drink—
I don’t.

To dance and flirt is very wrong—
I don’t.
Wild youths chase women, wine and song—
I don’t.
I kiss no girls, not even one—
I do not know how it is done—
You wouldn’t think I had much fun—
I DON’T.

Author Unknown

From “I Don’t,” Goldendale [Washington] Sentinel, October 24, 1918, page 1. (Cited here.)

Nephi’s Formula for Spiritual Success

Courtesy Gospel Media Library © By Intellectual Reserve, Inc.There was a critical event in the Book of Mormon that doesn’t get headlined very often. It was when Nephi was dealing with the bitterness, doubts, and scorn of his older brothers, Laman and Lemuel.

Instead of allowing his brothers to dissuade and discourage him, he took his questions to the Lord independently. And he got a crystal clear answer. It’s one of my favorite verses in the whole book. Here it is:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. (1 Nephi 2:16.)

Hinge Points

We all have hinge points. Sometimes those points open doors, other times they close them. To me, this was Nephi’s hinge point. Maybe it was hinge point of the whole Book of Mormon epic. I mean, if Nephi had followed his brothers’ examples and become a Mr. Grumble Grump, would we even have a Book of Mormon?

Well, I suppose the Lord would call and install another, as his works cannot be frustrated (see Doctrine and Covenants 3:1,3), but Nephi would not have been in the picture. Well, maybe he would have been another bad example. The Book of Mormon has a herd of goats and Nephi could have been numbered among them.

Nephi’s Formula

Here’s my take on Nephi’s formula.

  1. He had a great desire to know and understand the mysteries and will of God.
  2. He prayed to the Lord, at the right time, for the right reasons. It seems he didn’t just say his prayers, but cried out to God in some pain and great earnestness.
  3. The Lord visited him and softened his heart so that he believed all the words of his father.

This formula works for me and you if we have the faith to apply it. That’s my experience. We don’t have to wait for someone else’s explanation. We can get an answer directly from the Lord. It takes time, patience, and repentance.

“I Will Go and Do . . .”

It was after his prayer that Nephi returned to his father’s tent and uttered these now famous words:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7).

Nephi must have had a remarkable experience to declare his faith and commitment like this. From what we can gather from the pages of 1 and 2 Nephi, that experience never left him.

Put Your Trust in Him

I have had a both good life and a difficult one. I have had lots of personal troubles—I still have plenty of them—but I’ve also had my own spiritual experiences, my own quiet triumphs. I make mistakes every day that I regret, but with all my heart, I believe these words from Alma the Younger:

I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 38:5.)

The Lord has led me out of my trials because when I take them to Him, He can help me—and He can help you. He can help everyone, no matter where they are on the trail. It takes patience and a humble heart, but God always delivers those who don’t give up on their faith in Him.

But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:33.)

Wow! Now that’s a promise. I like to think he will deliver us for any and all kinds of bondage: pride, deception, bad habits, bad attitudes, intellectualism, judgment, perfectionism, lust, addictions, sins new and old—He will deliver us from any and all of them, if we can manage to trust Him and act on that trust.

Scorner

Snake Courtesy Gospel Media Library
I remember the
bright, sullen days,
when, familiar as blood,
he slipped effortlessly
through razor thin
blades of deceit.

They warned us,
young keepers
of the garden, but
as you might remember,
we refused their
preternatural gambit.

By summoning hiss
he conjured fears and
hot, sulfuric tears,
turning our
pyre of passion into
a smoldering disaster.

Then feigning injury
and taking sudden,
terrified leave,
the slithering seraph
fled beyond,
without us.

Until we meet again,
foe-friend,
may searing
eternal light
chase you far,
far away.

Michael James Fitzgerald

Late Summer Blues

Empty baseball diamondWell, I woke up this morning
about a quarter past yawn,
when I crawled outta bed
it was way before dawn.

Oh, I got them blues, yeah,
them late summer blues.
Let me tell you all about ’em,
the late summer blues.

I drove down to the store
and couldn’t believe my eyes.
From wall to wall there’s nuthin’
but back-to-school supplies.

Oh, I got them blues, yeah,
them late summer blues.
Let me tell you all about it,
my late summer blues.

No more picnics or parades,
we’re done with county fairs,
no more campfires or s’mores
or front porch rockin’ chairs.

Oh, do you got them blues,
them late summer blues?
I want to cry all about it,
them late summer blues.

All ya see is yellow buses
and geese flying south,
if someone says Halloween
gonna punch ’em in the mouth.

Yeah, I got them blues,
Yeah, them late summer blues.
I think they’re here to stay,
The late summer blues.

Michael James Fitzgerald

Present

Photo of a rainbow

The present is
no slave to
the past.
It is the past.
This moment
does not invent
the future.
It is the future.

Preparing for the future
brings the future
into this very moment.
Reparations for the past
invites the past
into this moment.

The past need not
remain a disappointment
nor the future
a terror
when we gracefully
welcome as dear friends
the future and past
into this
ever-present,
miraculous
moment.

Michael James Fitzgerald