I graduated from school this past May. I received my National certification in Surgical Technology. For those of you who don’t know what that is, think back to those medical tv shows where they showed the surgeons and staff operating on a patient. In real life, I would be one of those people at the patient’s side. A surgical technologist is the one that creates the sterile field in the operating room and does everything possible to ensure that sterility is maintained. They are also the individual that give the surgeons what they need: they pass instruments and supplies and quite often assist the surgeon in retracting, suturing, suctioning and whatever else is necessary.
The beginning of this year I was required to complete 600 hours of clinical time in operating rooms at local hospitals. As my first rotation was at the University of Utah, I had lots of time during the commute. Often times I would listen to the radio or music on my ipod but sometimes I would just leave the car silent and just drive and think. It was then that the seeds for this talk were planted and they have been laying dormant in my mind until we were asked to speak. When I learned what the selected topic of our talks was, I suddenly knew why I was given the little seeds of ideas that I was so long ago. Those morsels were the beginnings of my talk. It is my prayer that the spirit be with us today and that the true intent of my message be felt and understood. I know full well that it’s not MY message but my Heavenly Fathers message and that it is something I need to work on in my own small life.
In the surgical setting, there are hundreds of surgical instruments…several for every kind of operation you could imagine. They are all named after the physicians who invented them and some of them are only subtly different from each other. In many cases, it takes a trained eye to notice the differences. There are also different categories of instruments: dissecting, retracting, grasping, suctioning, and occluding. Each category of instruments serves a different purpose. For example a hemostat, or clamp, a kind of occluding instrument. It is used to clamp vessels closed and stop bleeding. A ribbon or malleable retractor is used to retract or to pull or push back tissue so that the surgeon can better visualise what he is doing. While each of the categories has their own purpose, they can also serve other purposes. The hemostat can also be used as a retractor or a grasper, depending on what the surgeons needs are. The ribbon retractor can also be used to protect tissue underneath while the physician is suturing on top. These tools have the uses they were specifically made for and they have also evolved into tools that have many uses.
In reviewing my instruments for my clinical sites, I became aware that we–as humans–are much like surgical instruments. There are many, many kinds of instruments that are all created and intended to be used by their Maker. The differences between instruments can be subtle, but make no mistake, they each have a purpose and a plan and are instruments in the hands of our Father. We can be instruments used for good or ill. Sometimes we are the proper kind of instrument for the job and sometimes we just aren’t–and that’s okay. We don’t have to be every kind of instrument for every kind of task there is….it’s not humanly possible. Our uses change through our lives, depending on what season of life we are in. That is the beauty of being an instrument in the hands of God , His purposes can be brought about by our strengths when we are able to give. He knows each instrument, it’s nuances and it’s limitations. If we live able to be used by Him at any given time, no matter where we are in our life, He will use us for His good and for our benefit.
There are instruments that bring comfort, those who lead, those who teach, those who follow. There are those who serve, those who give and those who command. Some bring laughter, some bring tears, some listen, some fellowship. You have your truth tellers and your ego builders as well as the difficult ones and the obstinate ones. One may bring strength, one tenderness, one turmoil and another–peace.
President James E. Faust once said: “You can be powerful instruments in the hands of God to help bring about this great work.… You can do something for another person that no one else ever born can do.” May I propose that the most powerful instrument we can be in the hands of our God is to be an instrument of peace. It is this kind instrument that brings the spirit of Christ to those who need it. It is the tool that soothes broken hearts and spirits and the means by which Heavenly Father can impart of His goodness and graciousness to those who desire to feel close to Him in these days of turmoil. It brings hearts to Christ and binds us to Him.
We have been told that Satan will stir up the hearts of men to anger in the latter days. Men’s hearts are failing them. Aren’t we witnesses to it? We are made aware, on a daily basis, of the kinds of anger that our brothers and sisters face all over the world and we see it in our own communities as well. We see it. We feel it. We are sorrowful and weary from it. Think of the tragedies that have happened across our nation in the past year. It seems as if we can barely take a breath before there is another one upon us and don’t we wonder “Where is peace? When will there be peace?”
We have been taught in Matthew 24 “…for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows…” I believe that more now, than in any other time of the world, there is a need for us to be instruments of peace–giving gifts of mercy and grace as our Father would do Himself. I also believe that this need will continue to grow until our Savior returns again.
President John Taylor taught that peace is not only desirable but “it is the gift of God.” How can we do it? How can we become the tools in God’s hands to bring peace unto others? How can we give this gift? Simply said, we cannot bring peace to others until we have some semblance of it ourselves. We need to make ourselves familiar and close to the sources of peace in order to be used as an instrument of peace in other’s lives.
In April 2013 General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook succinctly taught:
“… Many search for peace in worldly ways, which never have and never will succeed. Peace is not found by attaining great wealth, power, or prominence. Peace is not found in the pursuit of pleasure, entertainment or leisure. None of these can, even when attained in abundance, create any lasting happiness or peace…the answer is the Savior, who is the source and author of peace. He is the Prince of Peace.”
Elder Cook then goes on to explain that it is by staying close to the Savior we can have abiding peace:
“Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins, entering the waters of baptism with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace…repentance and living righteously allow for peace of conscience which is essential for contentment. Perhaps there is nothing to compare with the peace that comes from a sin-wracked soul unloading his or her burdens on the Lord and claiming the blessings of the Atonement.”
When I thought of how I could become a peacegiver, I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the “sunday school” answers we have come to know over the years: Read scriptures, say prayers, attend church, have regular family home evenings and all of the other answers that so easily flow off of the tips of our tongues. Why do these things matter? Because they are courses through which the goodness and the influence of our Savior can flow unto us. Even just a drop at a time, they introduce peace into our daily lives and we, in turn can pass that “gift of God” on to others. Knowing full well that every day can’t be a perfect day and that sweetness doesn’t flow through my veins, I realize that sometimes I am the giver of peace and sometimes I am the glad receiver. I have to face this fact as well: sometimes I am just a thorn in the side of those around me. I can be difficult and I can be demanding. My struggle with the “natural man” is great at times. I can do my best, because my best is all I can do, to live my life in a way that I can be used as an instrument in the hands of someone who is indeed so much greater than I.
May I share just a sampling of what I believe an instrument of peace can offer to others:
they give love even when it is difficult to give
they speak words of encouragement and hope
they understand that diversity is what it is and that everyone chooses their own path
they speak truth, even when it is hard to do so
gentleness is their way
they withhold judgement, knowing it is not theirs to make
they give thanks and help others to recognize their blessings
they comfort those that mourn
they seek goodness in themselves and from others
they forgive and ask for forgiveness when necessary
they look past the exterior and into what really matters
they are the ones who bring the spirit of hope and peace of Christ to those who may not even know His spirit when they feel it.
…they do all of these things and more…so much more. They are an instrument of many uses, bringing peace to those who need it in all of the different ways it can be so graciously given. Just like Jesus Christ does for each of us.
There is a Catholic prayer, called St. Francis’ Prayer, that has been widely used and turned into many lyrics for both sacred and secular music. It is the basis for the following lyrics:
Where there is hatred, let me bring love
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith
Where there is falsehood, let me bring truth
Where there is pain, I’ll comfort you
Where there is silence, let me sing praise
Where there’s despair, let me bring hope
Where there is blindness, let me bring sight
Where there is darkness, let me bring light
And with these words I speak, grant that I may not seek
To be heard; but to hear
To be consoled; but to console
Not to be seen; but to seek
To be loved; but to love
For when we give love, we will receive
When we forgive, love, we find reprieve
It is in dying, we’ll be released
Make me an instrument of peace.
Please, make all of us instruments of peace.