I Shall Not Live In Vain

kenneth cope - FaceToFace-cover
“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; if I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting Robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.” (Emily Dickinson)

Being somewhat of a public figure can afford a life the possibility of doing good on a potentially grand scale. And for these many years, doing much grand-scale good has been my desire and the motive behind my work. I’ve wanted to reach as many people as possible through my music, and offer hope to those lacking in hope, as well as encourage greater confidence in our Father and Savior’s love for them. However, even though ministering to the masses may be honorable, it is not sufficient to bring about the soul-growth that God desires in both the one who ministers and the one who is ministered to. For, if we look at God, we see that while He often works in sweeping ways and brings about events that impact such an enormous number of people, He does His most lasting work heart to heart, face to face, one person at a time. And I am grateful that He has so mercifully reemphasized this truth to me over the last few years.

In the middle of 2009, I began to feel spiritually impressed that I was to stop all travel at the end of that year. I was to pull back, stay home, stop doing firesides or performances, and work on my “Son of Man” musical. At least I believed that was the main reason for this hiatus. But the following couple of years, as I began to feel my potential reach to the outside world diminishing greatly, I also began to feel less and less useful. This took me on a roller coaster of emotions and personal doubts…until God opened my eyes.

Looking back over the last decade or more, I have noticed that I have had, at any given time, a handful of dear friends who were in great turmoil. Each of their hearts have been breaking from such unrelenting pain, caused by a variety of terrors: spousal infidelity and betrayal, unwanted divorce, wayward children, chronic illness, life-threatening disease, addiction, loss of work, abuse, mental illness, and even demonic possession. Their eternal spirits have been aching…near to fainting…and the thought came to me with great impact…If I can just be useful to them…not ministering to thousands…but individually loving and giving encouragement to these few precious friends…if I can specifically pray for them, by name…if I can call them on the phone, or send emails, or lovingly place their treasured names upon a temple altar…and in some way, help them along their journey…so they can keep going, and not lose faith, or hope, or trust in the promises of God, then truly my life will have meant something. Certainly doing this for them will end up meaning everything to God who is their yearning, loving Father.

Bessie Anderson Stanley’s description of life-success is as follows: “…to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

It’s really that simple. And true life-success waits for anyone who wants it! It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale in order to be eternally significant to God, or to be significant to one…or two…or three precious souls. Perhaps you will have an opportunity to affect many by some public act or creation…but more profoundly, you will have at your fingertips the chance to affect a few in a very lasting way…and it will be those who are closest to you in your circle of influence. For they have been put there by God for you to minister to. And who can measure the eternal significance and impact that your love and friendship will have as you “help one fainting Robin unto his nest again”?

Has one life breathed easier because you have lived?

Well, what about today? Is someone waiting to breathe easier now?

For…we are alive today, and now is what we have. Therefore, let us not live in vain!


17 Responses to I Shall Not Live In Vain

  1. Kim Coslett

    In all honesty I needed this today, for so many different reasons. Right now as I type this I can think of two people I know who need me right now. I have even heard that little small voice tell me “Kim you need to go help that mother who is single and is very sick today” or “Kim Sister Ragsdale needs a visit from you she is feeling lonely” In vain I have put those promptings aside, thinking maybe I will get around to it. I cannot wait to get ahold of these sisters!!!! I NEEDED this today! No way will I live in vain for one more second!! What in the world was I thinking! Thanks for calling me to the carpet in the most loving way!! Sometimes I get so caught up with myself! I am repenting! : ) Love you sweet brother! I SO needed this post today!! THANK YOU!

    • Oh, Kim…I bet those sweet women you talked about will be so happy to have your visit, love, and sweet friendship as you so capably give your kindness and support to them. You are glorious, Kim. Thanks for your enthusiastic example! Love you much! :)

    • Sean Borzea

      It’s great that we can connect and help each other out, even over the internet. Not quite “face to face,” but still real people with real lives. By small and simple acts of kindness are great things brought to pass.

  2. Helen Wells

    My dear friend, Kenneth,
    Your writings are so profound and inspired! They all need to be combined into a book. You have lived what you have written, and that’s why each thought is so God-given.
    We love you and send our love as well as our prayers daily for you and your darling family.

  3. Kathy felice

    Brother Cope. I love you. THANKYOU

  4. Christie Allred

    Dear friend Kenneth…tonight was the first time I have read your blog… It truly touched my heart… My husband and I have reached out to my ailing sister. She now lives with us! As we serve her, I feel we are serving Him. Even as we appproach retirement, and remember the dreams of us traveling… We are still directed to be in her service. What a humble servant of God you are…and your words of reaching out to those in our circle surrendered the very peace I have been praying for!!! Thank you for being in my circle. Love you dear brother. Christie in Texas

    • Dear Christie…the Lord tells us how much one soul means to Him, and how much joy the association with one soul in His Kingdom will bring to us. You are doing such important work taking care of your beloved sister…It is this kind of love and attention that the Savior said will define who His real sheep are and who will be found on His right hand when He comes. Blessings to you and your husband, as well as to your struggling sister! :)

  5. Bonnie Wood

    Kenneth…thanks again for such tender thoughts. Working with the public on a daily basis, I have discovered that there is no substitute for personal, one on one, heart to heart contact. Having been on both the giving and receiving end of this type of ministry, I believe personal validation is a human need we all desire at one time or another. Perhaps that is why it is so very important for us to each experience our own personal, one on one, heart to heart relationship with our Savior…for only He can truly understand and feel our pain. Thank you for reaching out to our family in our time of need. You are a true friend!

    • Thanks for your magnificent heart, Bonnie. I will always love you and Tom. You are both such sterling examples to me of humility, submissiveness, and endurance. Love you! :)

  6. Sean Borzea

    Kenneth, do not listen to any voice that claims that you are not reaching others. It is not true. Your albums are like your kids (well, Michael McClean claims anyhow). They go off into the world, and you may even lose track of their day-to-day lives, but you hope they’ve been raised right and are out doing good, somewhere. Well, you have some really good ‘kids’ out there brinigng honor to your name and blessing our lives. I told you about how “broken” brought me to tears while listening to it on our way to stake priesthood meeting with a guy in a wheelchair, an unemployed brother, and another friend who wants to be baptized but can’t quit smoking. It was so fitting, like it was written for that moment. …maybe in some way, it was.

    • Thanks, Sean! You are truly kind. Yes…the little creations are out there…and who knows what they’re up to…but one of the many great things about God…He seeks and finds a need, and then finds a tool, a small and simple thing to use to take care of that need. And someone is blessed because God found a way to connect the need and the tool…the aching, or questioning, or lonely heart with a song, or idea, or smile. He’s done that for me dozens of times! And I have to believe He does it all over the world! :)

  7. Fran Booker

    Dear Kenneth,
    I echo the comments of everyone who has posted here. At times I have felt overwhelmed and useless…which in reality kept me from doing anything at all. Then I would remind myself of the being-without-a-body whose only desire was to depress me. I have shared with you one specific time that my life was blessed by you and because of that sweet gift, you will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for being you and thank you for the sweet reminders of what really matters. I love you my brother!

    • Great insight, Fran! Our adversary deals with many of us in subtlety…but then, so does our Father…though both have been known to deal in great openness. No wonder it can get confusing. This veil of forgetfulness along with these needy and insistent bodies put us in quite a predicament. Down here, we are “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” So we really do need each other to remind each other who we really are, and encourage each other to snap out of our “overwhelmed and useless” feelings…so we can daily be the simple tool God wishes to use to help someone else snap out of it too. Every time I hear from you, you bless me. Love you, dear Fran! :)

  8. Lynda

    Beautifully said. Much love to you and your sweet family!!! <3

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