In connection to the 90-Day Remnant Rebirth I thought I would share an interesting lesson I learned this week while I was at work. My current job is what they call ICP (inmate construction program). It’s how the state can build so much for relatively nothing at all. Which in a way I can see is pretty good, because it saves tax money for other things important to the state. But when you’re the one on the short end of the stick it’s hard to see it in a good light.
The state can outbids any construction company because they can front big percentages instantly, due to the fact that they pay their workers (us inmates) less than slave wages. We have many a seasoned tradesmen and professionals that really know their stuff, and even have their own businesses out in the real world. But in here the state will only pay a maximum of three dollars a day, no matter how hard you work. And boy do they work us! 10 hour days for five days a week… So yeah, when you’re doing a job for the prison for only $15 a week, compared to outside for exact same job on the other side of the fence, it can really wear on you. But that’s the price we get to pay for being in here in the first place.
In spite of all these factors, though, I am actually extremely thankful to be a part of it. The least amount of reason is because it actually is the highest paying job in prison, so in essence, among those who are locked up, ICP can be a badge of honor. We are revered and respected in here. So for me being so young it’s a nice feeling to once again be credible and distinguished among peers.
I get it, it’s a façade, though, and I realize that. So for the most part, I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to learn a trade, and to learn how to work hard, even when you don’t have an incentive dangling in front of your face. Hard work is in my genetic makeup and I am thankful.
This job is also teaching me bountiful amounts of lessons. Yes about different trades, but more so about human psychology and just life lessons in general. The world is my classroom and I’ve been blessed to know how to utilize it.
Right now they have our crew putting in a cement sidewalk around the whole perimeter of the prison. We are into our second month of it. So we have gotten into a pretty good rhythm. The other day, though I learned something about cement that I never knew, nor still can’t really explain.
Our crew had just done a stretch of work and stopped to take our 15 minute break. It was a particularly cold day so we ironically weren’t too keen on taking a break, since the only way to stay warm is to keep working. They force our breaks, though, because one of our crew had a heart attack on the jobsite a while back.
While we were all corralling around trying to stay warm from the wind and the sleet, a Redshirt, one of our bosses, the contractors who wear red shirts (hence why we call them Redshirts, haha, so original!), spoke up to one of my crew members and offered him a challenge, “I bet you can’t take that sledgehammer right there and break that chunk of concrete.”
The chunk of concrete was a piece of runoff and wasn’t that big. The guy he offered the challenge to saw his opportunity and seized it. “Sure, okay! If I break it, then you let me take the rest of the day off.”
Obviously, he was dreaming about the comforts of the warm insides of our dorm just as much as I was. In fact, I was a bit jealous this challenge wasn’t offered to me. The guy that got the challenge was much bigger than I, but even I felt confident I could break that piece of concrete. The Redshirt then asked what he would get out of the bet if he did not break it. “Then for the rest of the day you get to work me like a mule!” was his reply. The Redshirt accepted and said he’d give him three tries.
The guy said he didn’t even need that many, but that he could do it in one blow. So he picked up the sledgehammer and squared up to the chunk of concrete and took a huge swing at it, and came down with all the force he could muster and hit it perfectly in the center of that chunk of concrete. Despite the loud bang there was absolutely no damage done to it.
The look on the guy’s face, and even everyone else’s for that matter, was of flabbergast! What!? Then in rapid succession he took his other two tries, which I’m sure was out of pure frustration. I don’t know how, but even more force was applied. BANG! BANG! Still, nothing!!! Not a single crack, just a minor indentation.
The guy was breathing hard and clearly devastated. Surely it should have broken. I could probably imagine the thoughts running through his mind, since those same thoughts were going through mine: somehow it’s got to be hit even harder and quicker – more power and more force will obliterate it for sure!
But then the Redshirt stood up from where he was sitting, walked over to the guy holding the sledgehammer, took it out of his hand, then knelt down gently next to the chunk of concrete and ever so slightly tapped the middle of it with the bulkhead of the sledge, once, twice, three times. To all of our utter amazement, the chunk of concrete parted right down the middle and the sides fell to either side. My mind was blown!!
I didn’t know if that occurred because the previous three hard whacks had weakening it for him, or what, but it seemed to me that the Redshirt just parted the Red Sea!
He then got back up and tried to explain to us why concrete acts like that, which I barely understood. It still seems like a miracle in my mind. I mean, you just had to be there… The guy was motivated by getting the rest of the day off. So I had never seen so much force being applied behind the sledgehammer. But then, in contrast, those three tiny taps were exactly that – three tiny taps.
Let the rest of the story, go to say that my fellow inmate came back from work at the end of that day looking like he’d been through an earthquake. I could tell the Redshirt got his end of the bet out of him. He went straight to bed. Me on the other hand, was in the midst of learning a profound lesson.
Now, I don’t know why many of you may engage yourselves with us in a 90-Day Remnant Rebirth, but it is my belief that such an audacious goal need to be driven by a righteous vision. That vision can take many forms. Whether it is to just feel more spiritual, to comprehend the closer proximity to your Savior, to cease a certain behavior, or to even start one, is completely up to you and the spirit. Honestly, all of those reasons are why I’m excited about it. However, I think I can speak for Dad and myself when I say that the true essence and vision for the 90-Day Remnant Rebirth is phenomenally more than one English word can describe.
Depending on whether or not you understand the doctrines behind what the remnant and what a rebirth is, it might be a bit confusing. Growing up in the church, I for one had never heard mention of either of those words except for maybe rebirth being used in the sense of being “born again” through the ordinance of baptism.
Both words carry meaning beyond natural comprehension; they are very spiritually heavy words. Yet we use them together and together they enhance one another to degrees and statuses known only by God, and those that He has chosen. In a nutshell, though, that is what a Remnant Rebirth is: For a son or daughter of God to rise unto their destiny as a chosen vessel of the Lord and receive all that He has for us while IN THIS LIFE! Which is why Dad and I are so gung-ho about this.
We have taught intensely that this is the most “BEST” important thing for a true Christian to do. This 90-Day Remnant Rebirth is HUGE, not because of what it is, but because of what it will do. And now I attest that HOW it will do it is just as important. And this is where I apply the lesson I learned about concrete.
I suppose most Latter-Day Saints are like me in that they measure their righteousness by their willingness. I’m willing to do “this,” therefore, God loves me, or, I’m one step closer to perfection because I’m willing to do without “that” and always I take this willingness to the extreme. For example, personally speaking, I could die a martyr for what I believe, like Joseph Smith, no problem. I could probably even kill like Nephi. I could be sacrificed like Isaac. I could easily leave everything I own and trek to some far away land like the first pioneers, or Lehi’s family. I could build a boat in the Lord’s manner, if He showed me how like Noah, or Nephi. I can even share the “view” of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s as a testimony to God, “that rather than shed the blood of [my] brothers and [I] would give up [my] own life.” I don’t say this to boast, but I share it to emphasize the error of my ways.
Yes, I could honestly do all that with little to no hesitancy and because I could do it, I categorize myself with the counterfeit façade that I am a very righteous person.
So if that’s true, then why do I struggle so much? Why am I in prison”? And so on, and on, and on… Why am I not a translated being right now!?
My righteous progression is frustrated. I believe this has to do with some misconceptions we have among members of our church. I know that I have quoted many a time the types of quotes (and there are many) that state that a prerequisite for exaltation is to be able to endure all that the Father would have us go through (Mosiah 3:19). I think we too often launch these quotes and Scriptures up as high as they will go to buy ourselves vain placement among each other.
As for me, though, I know if I but dial the intensity down a few notches, I can see my issue more clearly: I focus way too much on the extremes of my willingness that I lose focus on the small but significant choices before me, in my everyday life.
To further explain, in my mind’s eye I see my goals and my desires as a rock-solid chamber, which if I could only break the shell away than the treasure inside would be mine. So in essence, I’m like my friend with the sledgehammer taking giant and powerful swings to obtain the prize I seek. My prize might be to be able to perform miracles through the fullness of the Priesthood, and with my giant and powerful swings to obtain it, I prove to myself, and God that I could in fact die for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have you done that before?
Yet no matter how true that is, I’ll never be able to crack the shell around the fullness of the Priesthood, by big HUGE personal whacks that I apply – never. This is why the 90-Day Remnant Rebirth is so excellent and vital to one’s spiritual growth, especially for a Zion bound, Church of the Firstborn investigator, a noble and great one, and chosen vessel of the Lord. It is all in the HOW. The 90-Day Remnant Rebirth is the slight, gentle taps at the shells of the biggest goals of our life – to get everything we’ve ever desired. It is designed to counter and hone all the small and simple details of our daily lives. And the great secret is that you may never be asked to die for what you believe in, or what you’re working towards, but every single moment of every minute detail in your life you are being asked to act as Jesus Christ would act. It is in these seemingly insignificant decisions of our life that righteousness can be ours and we can become whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,
11 And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.
12 For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.
13 And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal. (D&C 98:11- 13)
Understand also that for the faithful it is required to in fact, “lay down” their lives for the cause of Christ. Notice however that as major an act as that is, whether taken literally or not, can only be done through the trying and proving of the Lord’s, “line upon line,” and “precept upon precept.” This is the pattern for this program, to be “proven” in all things.”
14 Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. (D&C 98:14)
I invite you to look at the 90-Day Remnant Rebirth in a new light, as we do, it is fundamentally essential. And for sure, it is the quickest way to get from point A to point B, from where you are right now to the richest blessings of eternity. I pray for you and offer my assistance in any way I can. Just take it easy on the ground and pound and focus a little more on what is in front of you. I promise you that if you do, you will begin to see cracks form in your goals. Tap your way to eternity. Nice and easy.