…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Walk Humbly With Thy God

By Rex Goode

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Last Sunday, I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. I tend not to speak from notes. when I have a talk written out, I tend to bow my head to read from the page rather than speaking to the congregation. That leads to droning rather than speaking and I feel my message gets lost. So, my method for preparing is to firt think through an outline, to think of scriptures that fit the outline, and to practice in my head the outline before I get to church. If I know the outline, I can easily fill in the rest.

My assignment was to speak on President Thomas S. Monson’s October 2007 address to the General Relief Society meeting entitled, “Three Goals to Guide You.” Following, as best as I can recall, is the talk I delivered. I will probably be writing things in that I intended to say as well as things I did say, and may be leaving out some things I did say. It may even be out of order. As I said, I’m doing it from memory.

When I was asked to talk about President Monson’s “Three Goals to Guide You” talk, I was reminded of the three requirements given by the ancient prophet, Micah. He said:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6:9)?

As with President Monson’s three goals, none of these three stand on their own. To “do justly” means to keep the commandments. Many people are utterly rigid and unwavering in working hard to keep every single commandment. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were famous for this.

To “love mercy” is to be forgiving and tolerant. Many people are so completely forgiving and tolerant that they come to see nothing as being wrong. Everything is tolerable. To love mercy without being devoted to doing ¬†justly is as wrong as being devoted to righteousness and having no mercy.

It is in the third of the requirements that Micah preaches that the other two are completed. “To walk humbly with [our] God,” we must form a relationship with God without which no amount of strictness and/or tolerance will avail us anything.

I believe that President Monson’s three goals are a perfect formula for walking humbly with our God. The three goals are: study diligently, pray earnestly, and serve willingly. Like Micah’s three requirements, all three must work together. Alone, they are insufficent.

Many people are devoted to studying the scriptures. They can quote chapter and verse for anything you might ask. It is a worthy goal to have, but unless you also live what you memorize, it is useless.

…As a side note from my talk, I was sitting in the foyer while waiting for the meeting to start. My back had been hurting all weekend and the seats out there are comfortable. A couple came in the building. He passes out programs each week. He has had some serious lung issues in the past and was wheezing so much so that I made sure my phone was on in case I needed to call 911.

His wife asked him if brought his medicine. He said that he had. She told him to use it. He fumbled in his pocket and brought out his inhaler. He used it and his breathing seemed to ease.

I commented to him, “It’s kind of like the scriptures. Doesn’t do any good in your pocket.” Back to the talk…

Other people are devoted intensely to prayer and spend day after day in prayer and meditation, cloistered away from life and their fellow man. I think there is no doubt that such find some degree of peace and serenity in life, but I still think it is not sufficient to help us walk humbly with our God.

To complete it, we must have charity. We must serve. If we know the scriptures and engage in prayer, we know that the Lord expects us to serve. As President Monson said, not only to serve, but to do it willingly.

The apostle Paul wrote:

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6–7).

I knew a man once with whom I desired to share the gospel. He was a person who had so thoroughly studied the Bible that he knew chapter and verse about everything. I was ashamed to engage him too much in a discussion because my own knowledge, though fairly good, was not equal to his.

I determined that I was going to learn the Bible and be more ready to engage my friend in a conversation where I didn’t feel like my learning was inferior. So, within a few months, I read all four standard works of the Church and did the Old and New Testaments twice.

My friend was unwilling to change. Though he knew the Bible so well, he didn’t have the strength to live up to his convictions. He couldn’t even keep the standards he himself believed in. He cut off contact with me.

Feeling rejected and depressed, I went walking along the beach with another friend. While we walked, my mind and heart were turned to prayer. To my mind came the words of a scripture, used by the Savior in many places.

…how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not (3 Nephi 10:5).

I thought to myself, “Yes, Heavenly Father, that’s how I feel about him. I so much wanted to share the gospel with him, but he didn’t want it.”

Then, another thought came to my mind. “I will call you to be my Scoutmaster.”

…Rather than retell the whole story here, I’m going to paste something from another blog post from several years back where I told the same story. I didn’t tell the whole story in my talk. It would have made the talk too long, but I include the whole story here…

Being Scoutmaster had been a frightening thought, not because of anything but my intense dislike for teenage boys. I had been serving as the ward Sunday School president and all of my experiences trying to get the youth of the ward into class had left me with a bad taste for teenagers. The last thing in the world I wanted to be was a Scoutmaster.

I had to admit that the call came from God, because as I walked along a beach with another friend, I heard the Spirit whisper to me that I would be called to be the Scoutmaster. I argued with that voice, and even though it clearly and unmistakeably said, “I will call you to be my Scoutmaster,” I didn’t want any part of that responsibility.

When the call from the bishop did happen, I accepted as I always had, but I had a plan. My plan was to be such a terrible Scoutmaster that the parents would call for my replacement. I knew of at least one man in the ward who wanted the job, and for all I cared, he could have it.

At my first summer camp, within a couple of weeks after being called to the position, was a young man named Job. Job and I had a rocky start. It was his father who, as a member of the bishopric, had pushed for me to be the Scoutmaster, and part of me thought that since Job already didn’t like me, I could get a good start on my plan by feeding our incompatibility by being extra demanding of him.

He rebelled as hoped, but somehow his father didn’t flinch in his support of me being the Scoutmaster. I had to work harder to be more unpalatable to the rest of the boys.

Job was actually only 11 at the time, so not part of the main troop.

For the older boys, we had planned a fifty-mile hike, starting at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and going north along the Pacific Crest Trail to Wahtum Lake, and down the Eagle Creek Trail to the Columbia River.

I had begun to warm up to the idea of being Scoutmaster and was really looking forward to this trip, especially since Job wasn’t going to be there. At another campout, I had a major dispute with Job over free time and him disappearing for a while to go fishing.

One thing that had really helped me start to get comfortable with being Scoutmaster, and even being Job’s Scoutmaster, was that Job’s father never lost faith in me. Even though it was his son I seemed to be having the most trouble getting along with, when other parents and leaders became frustrated with some of my methods, Job’s father always came to my defense.

As punishment for Job’s disappearance, I banned him from the next campout. His father mildly expressed his displeasure at this tactic and then immediately followed up by saying that he and his son would support me and accept this discipline. The man had true integrity and I admired him for it.

The fifty mile hike began at historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and descended through some beautiful country. We passed through rocky canyons and high vistas of the landscape beneath the white-capped peak. After descending along a small stream, we crossed one fork of the Sandy River as it flowed from beneath a glacier. On the other side was a wide shelf guarded by an old Forest Service cabin. We went past Ramona Falls, up over another hill, and across the other fork of the Sandy River. The ascent up Bald Mountain and then down to Lolo pass seemed to go on forever.

The trip that far took three or four days, and my muscles ached. I stopped trying to feel clean as I would wash up in the mornings and within ten minutes be drenched with sweat.

The trail winds through trees and spotty sunlight.At Lolo Pass, a paved road passed by our campsite for the night. One of the fathers appeared with milk and brownies. More than half of the boys begged him to take them home, while four of them decided to stay with me–Stephen Dixon, Chris Willoughby, Ben Henwood, and Troy Kerth. Part of me was disappointed, because if they had all decided to abandon the trek, I could have too. Still, I was enjoying being a mountain man. Barbara had always dreamed of being married to a rustic sort of guy and I was becoming the man of her dreams.

The next part of the journey for the stout ones who remained took us up into the Bull Run Watershed, where strict adherence to the trail was required by law. Portland’s drinking water comes from the resevoir and it is jealously protected from any influence that might foul it.

This leg of the journey was to be the most in miles and our desire for a longer rest got the better of us when we discovered that a steep trail would lead us down to the Lost Lake Resort. When the five of us arrived at the resort and sought the use of a group adirondack cabin, I found that my muscles had all hardened into immoveable steel. I could only walk with tiny, slow and excruciating footsteps. As difficult as it was, my desire to wash my hair overpowered the discomfort of movement. I laid down to rest and didn’t get up until morning.

The next morning, my backpack seemed forty pounds heavier. I thought I maybe should have inspected it to see if the boys had pulled one of those legendary pranks where they put rocks in the Scoutmaster’s pack. There were no rocks, though. My pack was only full of my own belongings.

The prospect of returning up that steep trail to the Pacific Crest Trail in the Bull Run Watershed was more than any of us could bear. Our evening’s destination was Wahtum Lake atop Eagle Creek. One could either climb the trail or one could follow a paved road that we believed to be more gradual a climb.

If we had been prone to delay gratification, we would have climbed the steep trail and then enjoyed the mostly level Pacific Crest Trail, but we thought that if we took the mostly level road and then climbed the last bit of road up to Wahtum Lake near the end of the day, we would have arrived unscathed at Wahtum Lake.

Such is the problem with doing the easy part first. It usually isn’t easy, and the hard part is always there waiting.

The road from Lost Lake to Wahtum Lake seemed easy enough at first, but then we realized that we were drinking more water being out under the sun and walking on blacktop than we would have been under the verdant shade of the forest above us. By the time we reached the turnoff for Wahtum Lake, we were out of water and our feet had the beginnings of blisters, caused by the hot sun on the blacktop soaking up into our soles.

There was nothing else to do, but walk. The boys had begun to complain. The road was even steeper than we had imagined, and though we reasoned it was only a mile and a half when we did our computations earlier, we had no idea how a mile and a half of walking on blacktop at a steep grade would feel. I wanted desperately to drop my pack and somehow live without it, but to remove it would have called for stopping and moving muscles other than my warmed up legs.

I believe it to have been a miracle that we made it hours later to the Wahtum Lake campground and descended the long staircase to the lakeside campsite there. Years later, to allow vegetation to regrow, those lakeside campsites were closed.

Our little blisters had grown ten times their size and had burst open. The searing pain of removing my socks made me nearly pass out.

I did my best to take care of my wounded feet and then crumpled onto a log. After a long rest, I slowly set up my tent and got inside. The boys were more resilient than me and they got some playing in before we slept for the last night on the trail.

In the morning, I was rather excited to have reached familiar ground–my old beloved Eagle Creek Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail splits off at that point and travelers can choose one or the other. Most choose Eagle Creek because it is more scenic at that point.

Our rides would be waiting for us late that afternoon at the bottom and we were in a hurry.

Somehow, the joy of being back home (on Eagle Creek Trail) allowed my mind to ascend beyond the now routinely mindless moving of my legs and think about my strange lot as a reluctant Scoutmaster who had begun with disdain for adolescent men. The adversities the five of us had faced seemed to cement us together and I felt a growing realization that I was indeed called of God as Scoutmaster to those boys.

As I walked along, my bleeding feet still hurting, I felt oddly peaceful and turned my mind back to the miraculous day the Spirit warned me I would be Scoutmaster. I had been praying to know how to win over the boys I had originally pushed away and the same voice that whispered to me those months before returned. It’s message was not new, but the emphasis on one word flooded my heart and mind with light. “I will call you to be my Scoutmaster.”

I pondered over that profound thought. When I was called to be the Lord’s Scoutmaster, I was not called to be a Scoutmaster in the Lord’s Church, thus making me his. I was called to be Scoutmaster to the Lord, to conduct myself as if I was a Scoutmaster in the Nazareth First Ward in the first century, given the care and training of a young carpenter’s son. That morning, beneath the trees, with the babbling stream in my ears, I recommitted myself to always ask myself, before dealing with any boy in my troop, “What would I do if this boy was Jesus?”

Though I had to stop a couple of times to repack gauze around my bleeding blisters, my pack was light and my feet seemed to float.

Looking out from Inspiration Point, I saw hills and forests stretch out before me like a future filled with joy and I had hope for myself that I would cease to offend the Lord by neglecting my duty to him and his sons.

Over the following months, I did my utmost to fulfill the commission I received on Eagle Creek Trail at Inspiration Point. I often reminded myself of who it was I was serving, and I even found a heart to love young Job.

These were days before the Boy Scouts of America wisely adopted a two-deep leadership rule, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to take a minimum of two boys on outings. Up until then, almost all of my disputes with Job had been about fishing. I didn’t like fishing and he liked little else.

So, I called one day and invited Job to come with me and one other boy on a hike. Job, to my dismay, said, “Only if I can bring my fishing pole.”

I let go of my stubbornness and said he could.

We hiked first and enjoyed the trail up Wahkeenah Falls and down past Multnomah Falls. After that, Job fished in the stream near the road while the other boy played energetically nearby.

The local seminary teacher had a tradition of giving out points for things like being on time for class and participating. Near the end of each year, she asked the ward members to give items and services for an auction that the youth could bid for.

At the top of a waterfall, a wide rock bench is the perfect place to stop for lunch.I donated an overnight backpacking trip up Eagle Creek trail and was surprised when Job mustered every point he had to win that trip. He and his friend Tim accompanied me up the trail about a mile beyond High Bridge. Job, of course, brought his fishing pole.

There came a time when I needed a new Senior Patrol Leader to go to camp a week early and participate in their excellent training program. I selected Job.

His week there was somewhat traumatic for him. He loved his family and suffered from homesickness. With the prospect of a second week at camp, this time being leader instead of being led, Job was waning in his desire to stay. The newer, younger boys were not too easy on him.

I will always remember, standing in the Blue Spruce campsite at Camp Baldwin, and hearing Job say to me, “Brother Goode, I just want to apologize to you for how I behaved my first year here. Now that I’m in your place, I know how it feels, and I’m so sorry.”

I don’t remember how I answered him, but he did a magnificent job that week.

Not long after that, I was released from my calling as Scoutmaster to be the Elders Quorum President in that ward. Job’s family moved to a neighboring ward, and it became some other Scoutmaster’s task to finish up with Job’s work at receiving his Eagle Scout award.

One night, I got a phone call from Job. He had earned his award and was inviting me to present it to him at a Court of Honor for him.

I stood there, proud and humble at the same time as I handed the award to his father in front of a large gathering of family and friends.

After the ceremony, Job was socializing with the young women in his ward as I passed by and smiled.

Job called after me and came to me. He threw his arms around my neck and pulled me to him.

“Thanks for letting me fish, Brother Goode. I love you.”

Somehow, that embrace seemed like the embrace of a carpenter’s son, and the words pierced my heart.

I got a taste that day of what it might feel like when the Savior will hopefully say to me, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).”

The Savior said:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26).

This is an important link regarding President Monson’s three goals. The Holy Ghost, in teaching us, brings to our remembrance things the Lord has said to us in the scriptures. It doesn’t come from an empty bucket. We have to fill that bucket through a study of the scriptures so that we can get answers. Many times, when I’ve been in prayer, answers have come to me in the form of scriptures I have read before.

If we do as President Monson urged, study diligently and pray earnestly, the Lord can work those two things together to teach us many things and shows us the way to go. To complete Micah’s requirement that we walk humbly with our God, we must add the third of President Monson’s goals. We must serve willingly.

I resolved the day I walked down from Wahtum Lake that no matter what kind of Scoutmaster I was otherwise, every Scout would know that I cared about him. I think I did pretty well on the Scouting part, but I strove very much to let them all know I cared.

When we walk humbly with any child of God, we walk humbly with him. We are assured in the 25th chapter of Matthew that, “Inasmuch as [we] have done it unto one of the least…we have done it unto him.”

May we all be willing servants and serve cheerfully.

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