Choose To Be Changed

Jerry Paul Hirst
June 13, 1943 – January 11, 2010

I still can’t believe he’s gone.

I know he is, but when I see photographs, like this one I took of him at our last visit, I imagine that Paul’s dad, my children’s pappa, and my father-in-law still sits at his desk writing, putters around his kitchen, or voices his strong opinions in a colorful conversation. Those are the places I visualize him because those are the places he influenced me.

“He said you had the same mindset as he did,” his sister-in-law told me when she offered a hug and condolences at the viewing. I agree. I’ve often attributed that to the similarities between him and my own dad. They were only a month apart in age and shared similar religious and military service experiences. Now, I also know that his words and actions helped to shape mine into that shared mindset at a pivotal point in my life.

When Paul took me home to meet his parents I was just eighteen years old. Jerry served the first course of our meal, a simple wedge of romaine with blue cheese dressing (yes, he often cooked the Sunday dinners), and I was impressed with his attention to detail, his desire for excellence in the small things. Although I felt a little intimidated, his actions signaled to me that I was important enough that he would give his very best efforts, even in a family meal.

He strived for excellence whether he was serving Sunday dinners or ward dinners, repainting the inside of the family home or painting his own artwork. He had passion for not only understanding the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ but also how those might also apply to our temporal pursuits. His quest for excellence, not mediocrity, motivated him to give his best as an outgrowth of God’s love. That passion felt like the passion of my own father. Their passions shaped mine.

In time, I learned that the excellence we seek ultimately comes through a change of heart, not through our own effort. Jerry discovered that reality earlier than I did.  He suffered from diabetes for many years, which caused temporal setbacks and curtailed his ability to progress in the physically apparent ways of life.

At the funeral Paul shared the most important lesson his dad taught us—believe in the grace of God and that we progress grace for grace. We need a desire to change and improve and expend our best effort, but it is God who changes us through the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We choose to be changed.

His example of this more mature understanding of gospel excellence is now my quest, albeit one that will move forward at a slower pace with a less self-absorbed approach. Despite the sorrow in his death, a change is already with me that holds a greater measure of peace.

Choose To Be Changed

How long shall ye halt between two opinions
If the Lord be thy God, follow Him.
How long will ye waiver between two dominions?
If the Son is thy King, follow Him.

Choose ye this day to be born of the Spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Choose the Light.
Choose the Life.
Let a miracle work in your heart, in your spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Surrender to Christ.

Christ changes men and changed men change the world.
As they follow His steps, follow them.
They set fire in us all as they burn with the Spirit.
Soon the whole world can be born again.

Choose ye this day to be born of the Spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Choose the Light.
Choose the Life.
Let a miracle work in your heart, in your spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Surrender to Christ.

What think ye of Christ?–is our challenge from Jesus.
Have we sung songs of redeeming love?
Will we be born again and receive of His image?
Is the change of our heart from above?

Choose to be one who shall stand as His witness.
Bear ye His name.
Be consumed in His will.
Feast on His words and sit down at His table.
Choose to be changed.
Unto life eternal.

— by Jerry Paul Hirst,
From his collection, My View, at jerryhirst.com
Please do not publish without permission. All rights reserved

How long shall ye halt between two opinions
If the Lord be thy God, follow Him.
How long will ye waiver between two dominions?
If the Son is thy King, follow Him.

Choose ye this day to be born of the Spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Choose the Light.
Choose the Life.
Let a miracle work in your heart, in your spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Surrender to Christ.

Christ changes men and changed men change the world.
As they follow His steps, follow them.
They set fire in us all as they burn with the Spirit.
Soon the whole world can be born again.

Choose ye this day to be born of the Spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Choose the Light.
Choose the Life.
Let a miracle work in your heart, in your spirit.
Choose to be changed.
Surrender to Christ.

What think ye of Christ?–is our challenge from Jesus.
Have we sung songs of redeeming love?
Will we be born again and receive of His image?
Is the change of our heart from above?

Choose to be one who shall stand as His witness.
Bear ye His name.
Be consumed in His will.
Feast on His words and sit down at His table.
Choose to be changed.
Unto life eternal.How long shall ye halt between two opinions

If the Lord be thy God, follow Him.

How long will ye waiver between two dominions?

If the Son is thy King, follow Him.

Choose ye this day to be born of the Spirit.

Choose to be changed.

Choose the Light.

Choose the Life.

Let a miracle work in your heart, in your spirit.

Choose to be changed.

Surrender to Christ.

Christ changes men and changed men change the world.

As they follow His steps, follow them.

They set fire in us all as they burn with the Spirit.

Soon the whole world can be born again.

Choose ye this day to be born of the Spirit.

Choose to be changed.

Choose the Light.

Choose the Life.

Let a miracle work in your heart, in your spirit.

Choose to be changed.

Surrender to Christ.

What think ye of Christ?–is our challenge from Jesus.

Have we sung songs of redeeming love?

Will we be born again and receive of His image?

Is the change of our heart from above?

Choose to be one who shall stand as His witness.

Bear ye His name.

Be consumed in His will.

Feast on His words and sit down at His table.

Choose to be changed.

Unto life eternal.

3 Comments

  1. David
    Jan 21, 2010

    My father passed away March 15, 2003 and I still miss him. As you are aware it gets easier with time and fortunately yours is an eternal family…

    Best wishes,

    David

  2. Minna Dyer
    Jan 21, 2010

    I used that poem in a talk years ago. I still think of the words, and now, I will think of him when I do.

  3. Tina
    Jan 21, 2010

    Teresa, Thanks for this. I have been wanting to start writing down stuff in my head, but I couldn’t. I finally was able to start after reading that. I have lots more in my head, but at least I feel like it can come out now!

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