This is part three of excerpts from John H. Groberg's inspirational autobiography, "The Other Side of Heaven", which was originally titled "In the Eye of the Storm". A wonderful film was made based on this book, starring Christopher Gorham and Anne Hathaway, recounting Groberg's missionary experiences in Tonga.
After watching a rich man in a yacht stop at the island to trade for provisions and to pick up some girls for his pleasure, and then leave, an islander said this to John Groberg:
"I feel sorry for him. He will never be happy, for he seeks only his own pleasure, not to help others. Yet we know that happiness comes from helping others. All he will do is sail around the world seeking happiness, hoping others will bring it to him, but they cannot. He will never find it, for he has not learned to help others. He has too much money, too many luxuries, too much power. Oh, I feel sorry for him."
Reflecting on modern society, John wrote:
Most of what we buy isn't necessary
Most of what we eat is not very good for us
Most of what we do is not very important
Most of what we store should be given or thrown away
Most of what we talk about is trite
Why don't we spend out time and means better?
Why don't we concentrate more on loving and helping others?
One of the problems with all of the safety consciousness we have today is that it tends to cause us to hesitate to do things that we might otherwise do....I sometimes wonder if we don't get so filled with facts and figures and possible dangers that we do less than we should. I suppose we could all find legitimate reasons to hardly do anything because of the potential dangers involved...
As I see it, all of life is a risk, which is where faith comes in. We do what is right, and let the chips fall where they may.
Even in troubled waters we make more progress if we are trying than if we wait until the dangers and discomforts are removed.
John spent much time at sea in small boats, traveling between the Tongan islands. Much time was spent in reflecting upon and being inspired by God:
As I watched the prow slice through the water, felt the wind power us forward, and sensed the undulating motion of the mast, I felt very close to God. I doubt anyone could deny Him and His power under those circumstances.
Once I asked the Lord to bless us with a good tail wind so we could get to Foa quickly. As we got under way, one of the older men said, "Elder Groberg, you need to modify your prayers a little."
"How's that?" I replied.
"You asked the Lord for a tail wind to take us rapidly to Foa. If you pray for a tail wind to Foa, what about the people who are trying to come from Foa to Pangai? They are good people, and you are praying against them. Just pray for a good wind, not a tail wind."
Sometimes we pray for things that will benefit us but may hurt others.
Sometimes the sea is fairly calm with a good wind, and it thrills me inside to stand on the bow of the ship, raise the sails, and watch the wind fill the white canvas and see the keel begin to cut the water. Man moving under the power of nature. It thrills me as our big sails billow with the power of nature, and we literally glide through the ocean.
Sometimes a good wind and a good sea will take us quickly to our destination. Then with a disagreeable wind and a contrary sea, it could take hours, even days...It fills you with pride as you feel the power of the elements under your control, but you soon realize it isn't our power when the wind decides to stop.
How often do we not do more because we pray for wind and none comes? We pray for good things and they don't seem to happen, so we sit and wait and do no more. We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impressions to proceed in different ways from those we may have thought of.
No matter what our trials, we should never say, "It is enough." Only God is entitled to say that. Our responsibility, if we are faithful, is to ask, "What more can I do?" then listen for the answer and do it!
His Thoughts on Serving Others:
When life is through, I am sure those who have worn out their lives in the service of others, which is serving God, will have a feeling...of total love. Those who have not sacrificed for others simply cannot experience it...because they haven't don what is necessary to experience it.
Being totally exhausted in the Lord's cause isn't all that bad.
The basis of all spirituality and the means of exaltation is to just forget about oneself and help others.
When we come into closer contact with the Lord, the importance of true love and service comes to the front.
Deeds of sacrifice, deeds of selflessness and honesty, deeds of effort in sincerely trying to help others, especially at the expense of one's own comfort, never go unnoticed by the powers of heaven.
Friendship or loyalty can only be measured by what we do for others, or what they do for us, not by what is offered only.
The key to happiness is to serve others.
Love, trust, and sacrifice for others are the greatest forces in the world. Love is shown by how much we are willing to deny ourselves for the good of others, how much we are willing to go through that others might benefit.
Other thoughts include:
How grateful I am for inspired leaders who listen to the promptings of the Spirit and are willing to make changes when that is the right thing to do, rather than pay attention only to logic or predetermined reason.
When we do things according to the Spirit, the Spirit and power of God take over. The Spirit justifies what we have done. The Lord then orchestrates future events so that what was started spiritually is brought to fruition downstream in a marvelous way.
I am convinced that all we have to do is try our hardest by putting forth effort and having great faith in God, and He indeed will cause the increase.
Unless we feel the way others feel, we cannot be too effective in meeting their needs. To feel how others feel is a great blessing and is accomplished as we hurt with them, laugh with them, mourn with them, rejoice with them, cry with them, suffer with them wonder with them, pray with them, experience miracles with them, and become reconciled to die with them if necessary.
I wonder if some of our so-called trials with wayward children, poor health, or financial reverses may be to help us feel things we otherwise might not be able to feel. I am confident that we can best understand and help people when we have felt the way they have felt.
If you follow the direction of the Spirit and do what is right, you turn the responsibility over to the Spirit - and it gives life.
Unity is peace and lack of unity is pain. If you have experienced the peace that comes from unity, it is always a goal you seek to achieve. You cannot compromise principle and achieve unity. Peace and unity only come from living God's principles. There is no other way.
Substance is much more important than form, and the Spirit always measures substance and justifies action... Substance is still the essence of all true progress.
There is a principle of moral agency that must be kept intact. Some learn faster or better than others, but all learn. Eventually the realities of eternity become apparent. Truth eventually prevails. Light always overcomes darkness.
You develop love by loving, and you develop patience by being patient.
Only unity, obedience, love, helpfulness, hard work, patience, humility, and willingness to allow agency its full play, and then developing deep faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, make any real difference.
We must obey, endure faithfully in Christ, and always remember that for us the last chapter has not yet been written.
We tend to fuss so much for our lives, maybe because it's natural, or because we haven't fully repented, or because our lives are not yet full of love and compassion and charity, or maybe because we haven't unselfishly helped others sufficiently. It may be that our faith in God is not as full as it should be, so we don't yet realize that when our lives are filled with these and other Christlike qualities, it doesn't really matter whether life continues here or there.
I have a feeling that everyone must endure testing or "persecution" sometime, someway in their life...and I guess it doesn't matter a lot when that persecution or test comes. What does matter is that we remain faithful.
Anyone can be happy under any set of conditions, if he only makes up his mind to be.
If we could all keep our spiritual health and our physical health up to top peak by constant exercise, we would indeed be much happier.
The language of love is the most important language of all. If one learns that language, he can speak to every heart.
It is interesting to me that Jesus was talking about how to love as the prelude to His greatest command or request to be perfect (see Matthew 5:48).
See also my first two postings of excerpts from this book at:
John Groberg's "The Other Side of Heaven": Excerpts, Part 1.
John Groberg's "The Other Side of Heaven": Excerpts, Part 2
See also excerpts from John Groberg's sequel to this book, titled "The Fire of Faith":
Excerpts from John Groberg's "The Fire of Faith"