The tithe-payer establishes communion with the Lord. This is the happiest reward. Obedience to the law of tithing, as to any other law, brings a deep, inward joy, a satisfaction and understanding that can be won in no other way. Man becomes in a real sense a partner, albeit a humble one, with the Lord in the tremendous, eternal program laid out for human salvation. The principles of truth become clearer of comprehension; the living of them easier of accomplishment. A new nearness is established between man and his Maker. Prayer becomes easier. Doubt retreats; faith advances; certainty and courage buoy up the soul. The spiritual sense is sharpened; the eternal voice is heard more clearly. Man becomes more like his Father in Heaven.
I remember a time when I was desperate for guidance on a crucial decision. I had fasted and prayed and been to the temple, but the answer wasn't clear. In frustration I told a friend that I just couldn't get an answer. He responded, simply: "Have you asked the Lord to teach you how He communicates with you?" I hadn't, so I began to pray daily that He would.
Not long thereafter, while reading about Nephi building the ship, I couldn't help but notice how clearly he understood the Lord's instructions. With that, I began to hunt for scriptural evidences of direct communication between God and man. At each one I made a little red x in the margin of my scriptures. Now, many years later, my scriptures are littered with little red x's, each an indication that the Lord does communicate with His people--and often. The scriptures are the handbook for the language of revelation. They are our personal Liahona. If you will regularly immerse yourself in the scriptures, you'll get clearer, more frequent answers to your prayers.
I've never forgotten the sacrament talk of an Englishman who had spent four years in a Japanese prison camp. Two missionaries had found and baptized him just before the capture of Singapore. He lost all his possessions save a photograph of the two missionaries. And that he kept hidden from his captors. He survived, he said, largely by finding moments, sometimes hidden under a blanket, when he could look at the picture and imagine himself talking to the elders again. So vivid is that evening sacrament meeting to me that I remember now, thirty-five years later, that he finished his testimony and sang "The Holy City."
You rarely can have a photograph of that future for which you now sacrifice, but you can get pictures. Years ago, near the time of that sacrament meeting, it occurred to me that I would sometime perhaps have a family. I even joked about them, calling them "the red heads." My mother's hair had been red when she was young. I certainly didn't think the idea of red heads was inspiration, just an idea. But more than once that picture was enough to make me work, and wait.
If all my four sons were here tonight, you would see two blond heads and two red ones. In a kitchen chat one evening, one of them said to me he'd not mind exchanging red hair for beach-boy blond. I just smiled. All dads may think their sons are handsome, but I would not exchange his red hair, nor my early vision of it, for spun gold.
It's not wise to daydream, and I'm not recommending it. If you girls dream too much about a house or a car, some poor man will someday have to get it for you. But I recommend a little thought, not about things or places, but about people. All the late crops, all the assignments God will reward in the long run that I can think of, involve serving someone else.
For example, now and then I try to think of my children as parents, perhaps older than I am now, perhaps at the end of life.
I learned something about the end of life from watching my father at the end of his. He talked a lot about his father. His father was kind. His father believed in him. His father liked to be with him so much that he got him a horse to ride the range with him before my dad could walk. That's what he talked about at the end, when priorities got very clear. Perhaps much of what he did, in science, in serving God, was possible because of what his father did.
Just that little vision of the future makes me eager when the younger boys ask, "Dad, can we go to the Deseret Gym tonight?" and the older ones say, "Let's hit a few tennis balls." It's not quite the same as riding with your son on the Piedras Verdes, the way Grandpa did. But I hope it has just half the results.
I suppose those pictures are really visions. And you'd have to pray for them, or take them as gifts. But at least watch for them. You may catch glimmers. I have had a few. And they help.
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