Viewpoint: Take Time to Appreciate Things of God
Contributed By the Church News
- Be vigilant to not be distracted by the things of the world.
- Retain a spiritual focus by taking the time to concentrate on spiritual matters.
- Recognize the hand of God in your life.
"I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not." —President Thomas S. Monson
A story from the Washington Post explains that on the morning of January 12, 2007, in the middle of rush-hour traffic, a 39-year-old white male in jeans, a T-shirt, and a baseball cap opened his violin case at L’enfant Plaza Metro Station in Washington, D.C., and began to play for the next 43 minutes. With his violin case open for tips, the man played six classical pieces while over a thousand people walked by. Only seven people stopped to listen, with most spending only about one minute. He made just over $30.
What the busy crowds didn’t realize was that this street performer was world-renowned violin virtuoso Joshua Bell, who just days earlier performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall with good seats costing around $100. The violin he used to play the classical ensemble was handcrafted in 1713 by Italian master Antonio Stradivari and is rumored to have been purchased for about $3.5 million (see Gene Weingarten, “Pearls Before Breakfast,” Washington Post, Apr. 8, 2007).
The purpose of the performance that cold winter morning was to see if busy, distracted people would recognize something of great value right under their noses. It was concluded that most, if not all, the passersby did not. Most people didn’t have the time or didn’t take the time to enjoy something truly spectacular.
Elder Kevin W. Pearson in the April 2009 general conference said, “Distraction eliminates the very focus the eye of faith requires. Discouragement and distraction are two of Satan’s most effective tools, but they are also bad habits” (“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”).
Getting distracted by the things of the world can lead to spiritual death. It can canker the soul, numb the heart, and lead us down vain and forbidden paths. The ancient prophet Moroni was allowed to see our day by the power of Jesus Christ and warned us of the results of losing our spiritual focus:
“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
“And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
“For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:35–37).
Taking time to recognize, ponder, and be grateful for the hand of God in our lives can build faith, deepen gratitude, and bring peace to the troubled heart. “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me” (Moses 6:63).
In a talk given during general conference in April 1988, Elder M. Russell Ballard shared a letter from a friend that underlines the faith-building power of observing God’s hand in individuals' lives. Elder Ballard said: “Astronauts viewing the earth from space have stated how incredibly beautiful it is and how alive it appears. United States Senator Jake Garn wrote of his experience in space:
“‘It is impossible for me to describe the beauty of the earth. It is a breathtaking, awe-inspiring, spiritual experience to view the earth from space while traveling at twenty-five times the speed of sound. I could also look into the blackness of the vacuum of space and see billions of stars and galaxies millions of light-years away. The universe is so vast as to be impossible to comprehend. But I did comprehend the hand of God in all things. I felt his presence throughout my seven days in space. I know that God created this earth and the universe. I know that we are his children wherever we live on the earth, without regard to our nationality or the color of our skin. Most important, I know that God lives and is the Creator of us all’” (“God's Love for His Children”).
The desire to have a relationship with God is not a passive thing. We must stop and take the time to focus on spiritual matters and be constantly reminded of our duty. That is why we are frequently reminded to pray, read the scriptures, attend church, and visit the temple. We must learn to appreciate the gifts of God and understand their importance.
Speaking of those who will not inherit a kingdom of glory, the Lord said, “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33).
Seeing the true value of those things around us is a gift. In the above story about the violin virtuoso, there was one person in the crowded subway who recognized Joshua Bell that cold day in January. She had seen him perform at a previous concert. She stopped and relished the moment. She was the only one.
In learning to take time to appreciate the things of God, let us follow the counsel of the living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson: “This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” Oct. 2008 general conference).