This life is a journey. It is for a purpose. God put us here so that we could gain bodies and so that we could learn and grow. He is our Father and He wants us to become like Him. He wants us to have the joy that He has. This life is no accident. It is a journey back home. As we repent and learn and become like Him, we prepare for Heaven, as Brad Wilcox says we "learn" Heaven. We prepare ourselves to feel comfortable in God's presence so that when we meet Him again we will feel comfortable enough to stay there. We are all homeward bound. That is what we set out to do when we chose to come here.
There is a movie called Homeward Bound that I loved as a child. It is about two dogs and a cat who travel across the Sierra's to make it home, and I've been thinking about it a lot this week. My favorite scene happens towards the end when the oldest dog, Shadow falls into a pit and he can't get out. The younger dog, Chance, jumps in and tells him "You pushed me this far, now I'm pushing you the rest of the way. Now try again!" I won't spoil the movie for you, but often I want to be like Chance and tell people. "I know it's hard, but it's worth it. You do not have my permission to give up now. 'Not now, not when we're this close'" But I can't. People make their own choices. I know what the Atonement of Jesus Christ can do for people. I've seen it work in my own life- but they get to choose.
One of the people we are teaching almost dropped us this week. We were devastated. We knew that she knew the truth. She's been going through a lot, but that's why we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what the Atonement is for. I know that the blessings for obedience, though the sacrifice may be steep, are always greater than anything we give up to follow. We had a couple hard days, but she came to us again and told us that she knows the truth, that she will do what she knows to be right, and that she still wants to move forward and be baptized, though she knows it will not take her problems away, she knows that the covenants that she will be making will give her the strength to endure.
I'm learning a lot out here about the Spirit and about acting in Faith. Today I read a quote from L. Tom Perry. He said "The discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living and wholesome lives builds an armor around you of protection and safety from the temptations that beset you as you proceed through mortality"
I thought as I read that about the Army of Helaman and how they developed habits of obedience in their childhood that enabled them to have courage even when the Lamanites were winning and they could have been killed. They knew that obedience brings blessings and they were willing to make any sacrifice to do what the Lord wanted them to do. (And they all received many wounds. There was sacrifice involved even though the Lord preserved their lives.)
As we teach, we invite people to start testing the waters of obedience. We invite them to learn about the blessings that come with obedience so that they are prepared to make covenants with God. As they do, they develop that personal armor of moral courage and internal security even when persecutions rage and mobs combine. I thought about how that experience that they gain enables them to recognize the Holy Spirit and the mercy of the Lord so that when they ask in faith if what they have read is true they have some help in understanding the answer that they get and so they have the courage to ask in sincerity.
We invited a family to be baptized this last week. They agreed and we are so excited for them. We have already seen the things that they have been learning bring peace to their lives despite the difficult circumstances that they are in now. I think that Lord leads us to people in tough times because they can see the changes more easily when they apply the principles we teach. I know that He is aware of our needs and that He loves us.
I know He is aware of my needs. I have received so much support this week from people at home that was supposed to come at Christmas, that I needed more this week than I did at Christmas.
I keep your cards. I also got some packages from my Mom that did not make it into this picture, but I got enough food that I don't think I'll buy much for groceries this week.
I keep your letters, I love you all. The Lord loves you as well. Keep the Faith