Monday, May 25, 2015

Review of Yearning for the Living God (Busche, ed. Lamb)

Yearning for the Living God: Reflections from the life of F. Enzio Busche is a collection of the memories and experiences of Elder Busche. This book is an inspiring book of faith. It almost serves the function of being a spiritual journal in highlighting the biographical events of his life that were spiritually significant. It was a pleasure to read about his life and learn of his experiences and perspectives that invoked appreciation for his example of faith, as well as inspiring and bolstering my own faith. It was very interesting to read about Elder Busche's experience as a member of the Hitler Youth in particular, and to better understand his perspective as a German in terms of the cultural perception of Christianity believed to have been tied to the Hitler regime prior to learning of the atrocities committed by the German Nazis. We often hear from modern day historians about the Nazi propaganda sold to Germans, and Elder Busche provided his own interesting insights as one who was brought up, like many, if not most Germans, believing in the Christian appeal of the Nazi rhetoric. He also discusses the shock and abhorrence felt by himself and other Germans when they learned of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the war. 

Elder Busche describes the growth of the Church in Germany and the faith of the members as it grew from branches to wards, and the eventual blessing of having a temple and the circumstances that led to that blessing. He served as a mission president, temple president, area, and general authority. Throughout his life he was able to meet many people who shared their stories of faith with him, and those experiences of faith that resulted because of him. Most of the experiences within the book are events that happened within his own life. Some of the experiences involved others that Elder Busche knew, or was in some way indirectly related to the event. A few passages I'd like to preserve are provided below. Overall, I recommend this book. It is great to read a book about an individual who lived in a way that we should all aspire to - a man who was filled with faith in Christ:
"I have. . . learned that Heavenly Father has His own ways to educate us and lead us toward growth. Everything we do has to come step by step, but it does not come without sacrifice. We may feel serving is a sacrifice. However, when we really submit ourselves to the will of God, we learn that, in serving Him He immediately turns our sacrifices into blessings. When we are on a spiritual plateau, it is necessary for us to understand that we cannot go beyond that plateau until we increase our level of sacrifice and our ability to move one step further" (92).

"I am so grateful that the Holy Ghost helped me to grow and understand. I believe one of the greatest challenges for members of the Church is to ensure that our lives are not led by routine. When we are governed by routine, we tend to become insensitive to the need to walk with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When we are blessed with the companionship of the Holy ghost, we are protected in dangerous situations, and we become capable of making right decisions and overcoming all fear.
All of our teaching and preaching must be geared toward creating an atmosphere in which the Holy ghost can bear witness, be with us, guide us, and protect us. If the Holy Ghost is not present in our teaching, no one is edified, even though everything that is said is technically right and in harmony with the letter of the truth. Unless there is a willingness to extend ourselves and our faith, the Holy Ghost cannot be effective in our lives" (97). 

"It has become easy for me to recognize that the people who have earned love the least need it the most. And that is, in my humble understanding, what the gospel is really about. Sooner or later, we will overcome our shortcomings if, through the love of Christ, we see in one another only the good, even when there are sometimes only small attempts to put that good into action. The gospel of Jesus Christ is in the process of healing the world; members of the Lord's Church, with the help of the Holy Ghost, can learn to see the goodness and wholesomeness within each of our Heavenly Father's children. Under the influence of the Holy Ghost, each member can treat his or her fellow citizens as if they had already achieved the potential that is shining through them, even if it seems very dim at the time" (99). 

"Shortly after our baptism, Jutta [Sister Busche] and I became aware of an elderly sister named Sister Maischt, whose enthusiasm for the gospel and the Church was . . . extraordinary. . . . She was originally from East Prussia, about 1,000 miles east of Dortmund. She had five children who had been killed by the Russians. Her husband was killed. She was raped several times. Her farm was burned down. With a little handcart, she made her way to Dortmund [Germany] to a piece of land she had inherited there. She lived in a shed without plumbing or electricity and lived off the food she grew on her land. She never talked about the details. When anyone asked her about her background, she would immediately change the subject and talk about the goodness of Christ, the support of angels, and her testimony of the Book of Mormon" (166-167). 

While serving as temple president, a "priesthood leader inquired as to when I thought the Church would receive revelation giving the priesthood to women, I was at first so shocked that I felt a strong desire to give a stern response and even question his worthiness to be in the temple.
However, as I momentarily withheld my answer and sought guidance from the Spirit, I was witness to something most remarkable. A calmness from someplace else entered my heart, and I heard myself saying things that were somewhat new to me. As I remember, my remarks, in an abbreviated form, were approximately as follows:"
"The priesthood is neither male nor female, although it has a male part and a female part. Through the eternal bond of marriage, built on the divine gift of love, the priesthood becomes complete. The roles of the two parts are, of course, vastly different.
"Heavenly Father has given the female the role of bringing new life to this world. She does so in a physical dimension--by nurturing, tutoring, training, and teaching--and in the wearing of the very eternal virtues of chastity, loyalty, and wholesomeness, which are essential for the very existence of humankind. Our Heavenly Father has given the male the role of providing, protecting, and admiring. Male and female are in many ways mysteriously different and, because of that, there is a natural desire to love one another in harmony with the divine laws as they have been reestablished by the restoration of the gospel.
"The best way to gain an understanding of the male and female part of the priesthood is to be reminded of a tree. As we look at a tree, it appears to be complete with its trunk, branches, leaves, and blossoms; but we know that another, equally important part of the tree is invisible. The roots--which, quite unseen, lie deeply embedded in the soil--are constantly nourishing and strengthening the visible parts of the tree. The roots do not argue with the trunk. They both enjoy oneness.
"The temple is the Lord's essential instrument used to reestablish a true understanding of the male and female parts of the priesthood. In the temple, both men and women wear the robe of the priesthood and are given the garments of the priesthood. Righteous men and women learn that although women are not physically involved in conducting the affairs of the priesthood, no man can excel in his priesthood callings for long without the blessing and care and guidance of a righteous woman. When we listen very carefully in the temple and learn to understand and accept our male and female roles, we will soon see ourselves in our own limitations. Those who concentrate their efforts in developing the purposes and virtues of their own gender will build tender, bonding bridges between men and women on the basis of mutual respect and admiration, inspired by the divine, miraculous power of love. A society that fails to accept the eternal concept of this godly design must pay an unbearable price of confusion of the individual, which can, potentially, lead to chaos, destruction, and the unhappiness of the soul. 
"As I spoke, I felt a warm, comforting spirit come over me--a stimulating vibrancy that filled my whole being with light and joy. I witnessed how that same spirit came over the listeners. Their hearts became enlightened and their attitudes became mild and receptive" (214-216). 

At a Christmas social once, I was sitting next to a woman from a recently opened country in Eastern Europe who was in the West for the first time and who was helping with the translation work [translating temple ordinances into various languages]. She was a convert of a little over a year.
I asked her how she liked America, and she was very enthusiastic and positive and had many good things to say. She told me that she was living with a family in Salt Lake City. She went to Church with them every Sunday and enjoyed the meetings and admired the members of the ward. Suddenly she stopped and said, "One of these days, I wish I could invite all the members of my Salt Lake ward to come to my home branch." I asked her about her branch.
She told me about the poor circumstances they were all living in and about how difficult it was for the members to get to their Sunday meetings and the many sacrifices that they joyfully made. She said the most inspiring time for the members in her branch was testimony meeting that was held on the Sunday of fasting. They all looked forward to hearing their fellow members report about the Lord's working in their lives. They, of course, would not part until everyone had given a testimony because they were all anxious to share the many miracles happening around them. They could not say enough about the love and most gracious care of the Lord. Then she said, "Once in a while, we have holy angels visit and comfort and strengthen us." She added with a smile, "Can you imagine? I have found people in Salt Lake City who have never seen an angel." She laughed as if that were the strangest thing she had ever heard" (233-234).

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