My marvelous mission adventure promises to be full of learning experiences, spiritual growth, humbling moments, and progress for me and for those I teach. Come along for the ride as I email home about my discoveries.
Yesterday we shared a
conference talk by our prophet, President Monson. It moved me to remember that
we can't look backward at ourselves or anyone else. We are more than our past.
We are eternal beings with infinite potential and to look at any person
(including myself) and say that they are incapable of change is to deny
Christ's power to save. We can't focus on where we have been. We have to focus
on where we are going.
This morning I was reading about the Prodigal Son. The young
man knows that he's done wrong. He says "Father, I have sinned against
heaven, and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son." He
isn't wrong. He has royally messed up. He has wasted his inheritance in riotous
living that has scarred him. He feels unclean. He has insulted his family. The
road ahead won't necessarily be easy, but his father is watching for him. He is
so overjoyed to see him!! That father saw the boy not for his past, but for his
future. That father saw his son for what he could become.
The young man's brother is a little bit miffed. He thinks he's been unfairly
dealt with. He was good, right? Why did his wicked little brother get all of
the special treatment for wasting his living? This young man sees his brother's
past. Not his future. He may be thinking "He's never going to change!
Especially not if you reward him like this. Where is the justice?" Well,
we should all be glad to know that Christ overcame justice. Christ paid the
price of justice for both of these sons in all of their shortcomings. I
recommend we don't ask for justice. Justice serves all of us poorly - since each
of us has fallen and each falls short of the glory of God. Christ knows our
fallen state and rescues us. He says in Doctrine and Covenants 18:
"10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the
sight of God;
11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer
suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that
all men might repent and come unto him.
12 And he hath risen again from the dead,
that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
13 And how great is his joy in the soul
14 Wherefore, you are called to cry
repentance unto this people.
15 And if it so be that you should labor
all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one
soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my
sees our potential and He is able to help us overcome all things.
week I have been thinking a lot about the people that we are teaching and where
they may be in 10 years. I see one as a temple worker, another sealed to a
worthy man for time and all eternity, one teaching a sunbeams class, and
another feeling clean and forgiven with purity in his attitude. I love these
people because the Lord has given me the eyes to see a little bit of their
potential. He sees us for our potential. I am grateful for the change He can bring
to each of us. My challenge to all of you this week is to see others for their
future. Not their past. Then look at yourself with that same attitude.
A returning missionary sang this song Sunday with her Sister:
sang "Come Unto Christ" with the Young Women in Sacrament this Sunday and
almost made one of our investigators cry. I love that song.
Sometimes we think that we have to wait for just the right
moment when the kids are quiet and the house is clean and our mind is free of
distractions. Then we will read our scriptures, sesk the spirit, come to
church, give up smoking, serve someone else, or mend a quarrel. I have a
message for you. It isn't going to get any easier than it is right now.
So let us ask ourselves the question "What is keeping
me from feeling the Spirit today? What can I change in my life to open myself
more to God's guidance and to keep Satan's influence out of my home, my life
and my mind?"
Another thing that we have to understand is that the
scriptures take the Spirit to us. We don't take the Spirit to the scriptures.
That's not to say that we shouldn't spiritually prepare ourselves to be open to
what God needs to tell us in the scriptures, at church, at the temple, at
General Conference, or at any other opportunity to receive revelation. What I
mean is that these things will be beneficial to you even when you are in your
dark and distracted moments. If you are beset by temptation that is a great
time to listen to a conference talk. If your testimony is struggling you should
be going to church. You don't have to be perfect to go to church - otherwise no one
would be allowed in. As Jesus Said "They that are whole have no need ofthe physician, but they that are sick". You can go to God
at any time. You can open up the scriptures and He will give you help if you
are truly seeking help and if you have real intent to follow Him.
Today I was reading 1 Nephi 17
and I learned a little bit about doing things in God's way (not mine).
So Lehi and his family have
been traveling eight years in the wilderness. They've received a lot of
guidance from God that has kept them in the more fertile parts of the
wilderness. They've seen a lot of affliction but they have also been blessed in
miraculous ways. They come to the seashore and called the place
Bountiful. They name the ocean Irreantum (many waters). No joke - lots of water.
They rejoiced. If I were them I would have thought "Well, here we are.
It's been a nice trip. I'm glad it's over. We can't go any further so we must
be done." But that would have been building my life my way. It seems that
building a boat my way is not building a boat at all.
But one night Nephi is sleeping
and the voice of the Lord comes to him saying "Arise,and get thee into the
mountain." So the first step in building your boat the Lord's way is to
get up out of bed and put your feet to the pavement. By the way mountains
in the scriptures are usually symbolic of the temple. So Nephi goes to the
mountain and prays. Obviously the Lord needs him there so there must be a reason.
Nephi is going to find out what that reason is. The Lord says "Thou
shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may
carry thy people across here waters."
I am not as cool as Nephi - and
I would probably still be thinking "But, Lord, we're done! Remember? We
called it 'many waters' for a reason. Too many to cross. Plus - I
can't build a boat. What if I mess up and we all drown? You've seen Gilligan's
Island, if the skipper couldn't build a raft to get off of the island I can't
build a boat. Even if I did build a boat that could hold us for a while - those
waters do not appear to end. We will eventually fail."
Nephi didn't even have the
metal to make tools. But he had the faith to move mountains. He said "Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools
to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?" In
order to get the guidance, we need to build our boat the Lord's way. We need to
get moving, go to a place where we can be alone with the Lord, ask for
direction and have the faith to follow through. The Lord told Nephi where to
find metal and he went to work. He practiced using his own ingenuity and
experience to do whatever he could to make it work. He wasn't slothful. He showed
initiative. He built a bellows out of animal skins, he made a fire, and started
melting rocks. By his hard work Nephi had to show faith and exert his
best effort. He knew he couldn't do it alone - but He also knew that the Lord
wouldn't just hand him the answer because that would rob Nephi of a valuable
learning experience. The Lord lets us try things out and do our best to think
it through. He provides the miracle that gets us through.
Now Nephi's brothers have seen
many of the same miracles and divine manifestations that Nephi has witnessed.
The difference lies mostly in attitude. Laman and Lemuel don't trust God
because they haven't tried to trust Him yet. Nephi knows firsthand that the
Lord will make it possible because he has put his trust in the Lord before and
it's worked out just fine. He took steps in faith, was obedient in hard times, and watched the Lord deliver him. Laman and Lemuel also don't pray for answers -
which we've been watching Nephi do from chapter 2.
17 And when my brethren saw
that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our
brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also
thinketh that he can cross these great waters.
18 And thus my brethren did complain
against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not
believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was
instructed of the Lord.
If they don't yet know that the Lord has commanded Nephi to do this the best
way to find out is to ask God about it. The way we learn pretty much everything
is by asking questions. But asking questions is scary because it takes a lot of
humility. You have to be willing to do what the Lord tells you to do. You have
to accept the possibility that God might tell you that you were wrong. This is
Laman and Lemuel's dilemma.
Laman and Lemuel did end up helping with the ship. To their credit they even
had enough faith to get on the boat. But they didn't ask God to know for
themselves if that was the right thing to do. They kind of just went with what
everyone else was doing. We can't do that. We have to be active participants in
our own lives. We have to make hard choices and take steps in faith to follow
God or the obedience won't last and we won't really change.
Spoilers: They made it across the ocean. The Lord made it possible. Nephi
never forgot the miracle that the Lord had done for his family.
Let's build our lives the Lord's way by seeking His direction and then
actively participating in the miracles.