Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Have You Done with My Name?

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

What Have You Done with My Name?, by Mervyn B. Arnold
Of the Seventy

Each of my children are named after ancestors. While I think I'm super, I doubt I'm named after Superman's alter-ego, Clark Kent; I don't recall why I was named Clark, but I don't think it's after anyone in particular (I called my parents for a reminder, but couldn't find them at home). My children have an advantage that I don't have: they can live up to the good names of those who have gone before.

Regardless of what your first name is, Elder Arnold reminds that you, too, can live up to a great name:

Each week as we partake of the sacrament, we covenant and promise that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. If we are willing to do so, we are promised that most wonderful blessing—that His Spirit will always be with us.

. . . someday each one of us will have to account to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for what we have done with His name.

This reality was captured in a song that I'm very familiar with. From the 1995 Especially for Youth album, Kenneth Cope's "What Have I Done With His Name" outlines a progression of names we could have been named after or called. Take a listen here:

It's one thing to remember those who have gone before and consider them asking what you have done with their name; it's another thing entirely to consider how our own names will be remembered in time. . . say in 600 years! The answer to this consideration may, in large measure, depend on the choices we make and how well we understand that choices have consequences. Elder Arnold shared a story from his wife's life that helped her understand that while we are free to make our own choices, we cannot choose the consequences:

As a 15-year-old, she was a typical teenager, upset to be working at her father's ranch instead of enjoying time with friends in the summertime. One of her tasks was to ensure that the cows didn't press the fence separating their grazing area from the tempting wheat field adjacent. As alluring as the wheat was, she had been taught that if a cow ate wheat—particularly too much wheat—it would bloat, suffocating and killing the cow. Because of this, she would regularly patrol the separating fence, keeping a watchful eye, particularly on one cow that seemed determined to get to the wheat.

The expected happened. The cow pressed through the fence, ate too much wheat, bloated, and ultimately perished because of it all, despite the frantic efforts of all to save the cow in time.

"We had provided her with a beautiful mountain pasture to graze in and a fence to keep her away from the dangerous wheat, yet she foolishly broke through the fence and caused her own death.

“As I thought about the role of the fence, I realized that it was a protection, just as the commandments and my parents’ rules were a protection. The commandments and rules were for my own good. I realized that obedience to the commandments could save me from physical and spiritual death. That enlightenment was a pivotal point in my life.”

While I don't have any experience with wheat fields and their peril to cows, I am grateful for this powerful connective story between choices and consequences. Do I stray from the pasture and sample the forbidden wheat, tarnishing my name(s)? I'm grateful for the reminder that "our Savior invites us on a daily basis to cleanse our names and return to His presence."

Something Elder Arnold said reminded me of another song, this one from my children's involvement in Primary:

Before you act, picture the Savior standing at your side and ask yourself, “Would I think it, would I say it, or would I do it knowing He is there?” For surely He is there. Our beloved President Thomas S. Monson, who I testify is a prophet, often quotes the following verse of scripture when speaking of our Lord and Savior: “For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts.”

The beautiful song this reminds me of is titled, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" (read more about this song here). Here's a video:

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