After having spent much of their lives growing a family business, a couple entering their sixties retired. Not about to spend the rest of their days sitting idle, they researched needs in third-world countries and founded a nonprofit organization to help pipe fresh water into towns and villages. Members of many small communities in these countries had to walk miles to rivers or springs and could bring back only what filled vessels they could carry.
Establishing the mission of the nonprofit was the easy part. To take the next step, the couple, as the directors of the organization, selected a country to start with and initiated communication through the embassy with the government. At the same time, they sent representatives into that country to travel, speak with community leaders, and identify needs for piping water.
Strangely, though the directors expected to hear from the representatives shortly after they arrived in the country, they received no communications of any kind. Not a single text message from a single employee. Nor did they respond to calls or messaging.
An individual accounting to the Lord after our mortal lives was depicted by Jesus in His parable of the talents. The landowner spoke with each servant individually and received a report of what each accomplished in his absence. The language in verses 20, 22, and 24 suggests that the landowner didn’t require each servant to report to him in front of the rest or any other type of larger audience.
In the Parable of the Silver Pitcher, we can see another individual trust, the response to that trust over time, and the final accounting. Sandra represents any one of us, and her mother represents the Lord. The pitcher itself could be any of a number of things that He has entrusted us with, such as our physical bodies, our spirits, the earth, each other.
Two young women were among a group of eager teenagers who boarded a raft for an exciting river experience. Before they pushed off from the shore, their guide told them to fasten their life vests securely and gave them a safety speech. Each passenger picked up a paddle, and off they went down the river.
The water at first was quiet and peaceful, the current relaxed and placid. After a mile of pleasantly floating downstream, however, the roar of the first rapids met their ears. The girls’ excitement rose as the raft rounded a bend and the thrashing white water came into view. The guide yelled for everyone to paddle faster.
Despite their best efforts, the raft quickly shot into an eddy and hit a rock. The pressure of the river folded the raft in half. When the craft finally broke loose from the rock, it whipped open with a violent surge, tossing everyone but the guide into the cold, churning water.
Circumstances in life can sometimes cause us to feel imprisoned, trapped—by the consequences of our choices, negative patterns of behavior, harmful relationships, bad health, injustices inflicted upon us, the holding of grudges. Ultimately, the stain of sin would cause our downfall and just transfer us from one prison to another. Said the prophet Jacob: “Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man”—meaning our earthly condition of being estranged from God—”must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. … And our spirits must … be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:7, 9).
Enter the convict Bernhardt and his cellmate, Joshua (a not-so-subtle use of an equivalent name for Jesus).
Isaiah feared for the people of his village. Several months ago, civil war had erupted in their country as a military group tried to wrest control of the government from the president and his supporters. The guerrillas had started ranging through the less populated areas and seizing resources from the villages and small towns. They had taken harsh measures against any who resisted them.
Today, word came to Isaiah that a group of guerrillas was headed their direction.