Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Path We Walk

When I published my first novel, Cutting Edge, I was the vice president of a high tech company that made cool little creatures that flapped, crawled, or swung around your computer screen, waiting for you to play a game with them, ask them for information, or give them a task to perform. If you’ve read my book, you’ll see lots of inside peeks at the wonderful world of the high-tech boom. I had a lot of fun working there and putting it down on paper.

Roughly a year later, I was the CEO of a 200 person Internet company and was writing my second book, Into the Fire . This time I was experiencing what people since have called the bursting of the Internet bubble. People lost millions of dollars. Companies worth billions on paper disappeared. I won’t bore you with all the details of fighting to keep a company alive and having to fire people right and left, but suffice it to say that I often woke in the morning with my fists balled so tightly I could barely uncurl them in the morning.

In addition to the stress of trying to explain to investors why the company which I had been asked to run was drowning in red ink, I was almost never home. My job was demanding hours that left no time for my family, and I felt like I wasn’t doing an adequate job at work or home. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that I spent a lot of time considering the book of Job.

In my opinion, most people misunderstand the story of Job. If you ask them, they’ll tell you that God and Satan made a bet and Job was the pawn. Satan made bad things happen to Job, but he was faithful, and eventually got everything back. It seems to me that Job is actually a much different story.

Job was a man who had everything going for him. He was one of the wealthiest men in one of the wealthiest areas of the world at that time. Kings and princes asked his advice and always took it. He was a good father and husband, devout in his religion, kind to others, and well liked by all.

He was also, in my opinion, a man who liked to be in control of his life. He not only did his own sacrifices, he did them for his children just in case they forgot. Nothing wrong with that at all. I think if you talked to most people, you would find they are want to feel in control of things.

Then, in an instant, he lost control of everything. Think about it. He lost control of his business, his family, his health, his reputation, his friends. Even his wife asked him why he didn’t just curse god and die.

Obviously my trials weren’t as bad as Job’s. Whose are? But I was fascinated by how Job spent so much time trying to understand WHY these were happening to him. Regardless of our trials in life, don’t we all try to figure why they happen? If only I had done this instead. Maybe I didn’t listen. I guess we just weren’t obedient enough. Why is God punishing us?

But the truth of the matter is that—like Job—Heavenly Father doesn’t tell us why we are facing a particular trial. Only that we must endure to the end. He has set a path for us. We don’t know when the path will suddenly head uphill, when the smooth forest floor will change to sharp stones and thorns. We don’t know when we will unexpectedly come upon a shimmering blue lake or a breathtaking vista. Often the most amazing opportunities hide behind a seemingly unscalable climb. All we know for sure is that Heavenly Father loves us, and if we do our best to follow the path, it will eventually lead us home.

I don’t know if there is a divine purpose for everything that happens to us. At a senior FHE I taught, a man told him of how a group of bombers he was a part of took a last flight over North Korea after the day after the war had ended. Entering a fog bank, they flew too low and most of the planes crashed into the side of a mountain, killing the crews. He asked me if I could tell him why that happened. Much as I would liked to have, I couldn’t.

All I could tell him was what Heavenly Father told Job. As mortals it is not for us to understand why it rains one day and shines another. We don't know why trouble befalls some and not others. But we can be grateful for the moisture and enjoy the rainbow. And even when the skies are dark and the lightning strikes, we can know that the path we are walking was walked by another before us. He suffered every bruise and fall that we will suffer on our journey and He is waiting to take us into his arms and comfort us if we will let him.

A couple of my good friends have suffered very difficult days today. Pains that I would never wish upon them. I want them to know that I love them and they are in my prayers.


At 5/01/2007 3:03 AM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

Your blog had a big impact on me today, Jeff. Thank you so much for sharing. After a couple of years where I had seriously begun to wonder what I'd done wrong to deserve being punished, I've finally come into the sunshine and can see where I've grown. Our job is but to face the walls and pound upon them. How rare it is to finally see the strength we gain for our efforts. Beautifully done, Jeff. Bravo.

At 5/01/2007 9:17 AM, Anonymous kerry said...

Bravo, indeed. I've never been much of a wall-pounder; I realize now perhaps that is why I'm such a woose. Lovely, lyrical post, Jeff. Definitely one I'll save to read again and again.

I'd never heard the story behind "Into the Fire" but it does help to explain how you so aptly and incredibly nailed Everyman and Life -- capitalized, of course. I've said it elsewhere (and maybe even here earlier this week) but that work is proof that whoever prophesied that the LDS people will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares among us was inspired. Truly, it should have made my top five last Friday because it is the first (only?) LDS work that touched me so profoundly that after I laid it down I was never the same.

I have two copies. Perhaps if I ever think of a contest challenging enough (like submitting the first chapter of the Great American Novel) I will offer one of the two as a prize.

Nope. I just decided I'd better keep them both in case I foolishly loan one out (again) and don't get it back. You're on your own. Try Amazon.

At 5/01/2007 1:15 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm paraphrasing because I can't find where I wrote it down. "Every trial we pass through is necessary for our own exaltation." Brigham Young.

I don't think God runs around engineering all of our trials, but I do believe that the things we learn from them are necessary for us to be able to return to live with Him.

The problem is, so much of the time, when a trial hits us, we turn away from God, wondering, "Why is He doing this to me?" when what He wants is for us to turn toward Him and say, "Will you be with me during this?"

I've had a lot of experiences with this in the last year, and I can say, when you turn toward the Lord in times of trial, it actually becomes a beautiful experience. Much better than the way I used to handle it.

At 5/01/2007 6:15 PM, Blogger John Ferguson said...


Your post today reminded me of a great devotional I heard at BYU given by Rex & Janet Lee.

It's long, but it is very powerful.

Click here to listen.



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