Hello all and Happy Easter! What a beautiful, wonderful day it has been to reflect upon and remember the events that took place nearly two thousand years ago on this day -- events that forever changed the course of human existence and defied the previously insurmountable challenges of sin and death. This past week I have enjoyed watching the Prince of Peace videos the Church released for Easter this year and reading the accompanying scriptures that go with them. The verse correlated with the faith video particularly struck me. Mark 5:36 says, “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe”. What a powerful, moving verse with such a simple yet stirring message. The Savior’s words “Be not afraid, only believe” can be applied to any facet of life. These should be the words that constitute our form of living every day. Life is full of uncertainty, doubt, and even fear at times. The power of believing in something unseen but undoubtedly, irrefutably true -- the power of faith and hope -- dispels these awful feelings and provides the courage necessary to live day by day. Believing in Christ changes one’s perspectives, attitudes, and choices. Heartache turns into hope, water into wine, the ordinary into the extraordinary, and despair into determination. I love my Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. Because of Him we can become better. Because of Him we can see those whom we love again after this life. Because of Him our imperfections, both physical and spiritual, can be made whole and perfect. I know that He conquered death and sin willingly so that we might not have to pay the price if we will turn to Him and believe on His name. It is not meant to be easy, but small daily decisions such as scripture study, prayer, and service strengthen our faith. What once was a belief becomes undeniable knowledge and reassurance. I wish you all a wonderful start to your week and remember that with Christ at your side, all things are possible.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Kindness is an incredibly important, desirable attribute to develop. It heals wounds and binds broken lives, builds trust and strengthens friendships. Unfortunately, kindness is often overlooked, forgotten, and dismissed as something of little importance or value. It can be mistaken as weakness or allowing others to take advantage of us. This is simply not true. This week I was reminded of the power of kindness and the effect it has upon other people. While reading in Alma 20 about Lamoni and Ammon’s encounter with the Lamanite king (Lamoni’s father), I was impressed by the king’s reaction to Ammon’s desire that Lamoni be permitted to retain his kingdom and that his brothers be set free from prison. Verses 26-27 say, “And when he [the king] saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Because this is all that thou hast desired, that I would release thy brethren, and suffer that my son Lamoni should retain his kingdom, behold, I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more -- And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them.” The kindness and love shown by Ammon to both the king and Lamoni softened the Lamanite king’s heart to hearing more and learning about the gospel. It opened his eyes to a new way of life and changed his perspective about an entire group of people- the Nephites. This story is a reminder to all of us that kindness speaks just as loudly as words. It is important that we treat everyone we come in contact with kindly and respectfully. We never know what effect a kind word or deed will have on a person and how it may change their life. I know that as we strive to be kind like the Savior, more of our brothers and sisters will brought to the truth.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
It is that wonderful time of year again -- General Conference. This is a time of reflection, questions, pondering, receiving answers, praying, and sustaining our Church leaders -- men who are called of God and have the divine authority to receive revelation for the entire world and speak on behalf of the Lord. It is a comfort to know that God reveals His gospel in every dispensation. One example of this that I love is found in Alma 19 when King Lamoni’s wife calls upon Ammon for his help and council. The queen was faced with a serious problem but turned in faith to a leader. Verse 4 says, “And she said unto him: The servants of my husband have made it known unto me that thou art a prophet of a holy God, and that thou hast power to do many mighty works in his name”. Later, in verse 9, she says, “I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants; nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou hast said”. The queen’s faith is absolutely incredible in this story. Without personally knowing Ammon, a prophet, or having been exposed to the gospel before, she trusted in what he prophesied and chose to believe. Because of this faith, Ammon’s words came to pass. There will be times when the Lord’s servants give us counsel during General Conference that we may not understand but if we trust in them, things will work out for our good and we will be blessed. These are men called by God to warn and watch out for us. There words will always be fulfilled but it is up to us to heed their messages and act in faith.
Monday, March 27, 2017
This past week a very exciting event occurred in my family -- my younger brother received his mission call! He has been assigned to labor as a full-time missionary in the Argentina Buenos Aires West Mission and will report to the Argentina Missionary Training Center on July. It was a beautiful experience watching my brother open something so precious and significant that has come to him through divine authority and revelation. Watching him open his call took me back to a day a little over two years ago when I opened my mission call to serve in Mexico City. At that time I had no idea just what I would experience and encounter during those eighteen months. My brother has no clue of what the next two years of his life have in store for him. The mission is an exciting but somewhat daunting task, bringing with it much uncertainty and nervousness. A few scriptures I read this past week brought me much peace and understanding that I was able to convey to my brother. I was reading in Alma 16 and 17 about Alma, Amulek, and the sons of Mosiah. Each of these valiant men left their homelands to enter strange places and share the gospel of Christ with hard-hearted, ferocious people (Alma 17:14). Indeed, “great was the work which they had undertaken” (Alma 17:13); however, because of their fasts, prayers, diligent study, and faith, they served as “instrument[s] in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth” (Alma 17:9). I love the following verse which says, “And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted” (Alma 17:10). I know that the Lord protects and blesses His servants who are on His errand. He gives them far more capacity to accomplish His work than what they would be able to do alone. He prepares His people to receive and accept the word. Alma 16:16 says, “the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming”. I know that the Lord is preparing people in Argentina whose lives will touched by my brother’s consecrated service and who will forever change my brother’s life for good because of their love and faithfulness. This is the greatest work upon the earth. It is a wonderful time to be a disciple of Christ and to share His restored gospel. I know that as we put our trust in the Lord and live His gospel that He will guide and protect us as well, using us as His instruments.
Monday, March 20, 2017
This past week I was reminded of a simple truth- that of having a consistent attitude of finding joy in the journey. One particular story I read during my personal scripture study throughout the week served to bring this to my mind and heart. Ammon’s experience of separating from his brethren and going into unknown territory to teach the Lamanites, found in Alma 17, is a perfect example of this. Ammon had every reason to be stressed, scared, uncertain, and nervous. He was about to face a bloodthirsty people who had been an enemy to the Nephites for years. He was a convert to Christ’s gospel himself. He was alone and knew no one in this land, and yet through it all, Ammon was faithful and relied on the Spirit’s guidance. After being captured and thrown before King Lamoni, faced with the possibility of death, Ammon simply stated in verse 23, “Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die”. This response pleased the king and provided Ammon with the opportunity to serve him and be an example to the king’s other servants. When faced by an onslaught of robbers in the fields, Ammon’s “heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words” (Alma 17:29). Rather than losing hope and being overcome with fear about the dangerous future, Alma took courage and exercised faith in the Savior. He saw an opportunity to turn a trial into a blessing and took it. This is a wonderful reminder to me that life is to be enjoyed and that faith should always be greater than fear. The two cannot dwell within the same heart. Though life may bring trials and uncertainties, having a positive attitude and a deep, abiding love for the Savior can transform these situations into blessings.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The miracle of the gospel is the power of the Atonement to complete, amplify, and polish our daily efforts. I was reminded of this while reading in Matthew 14 from the New Testament in class this past week. A huge multitude of people was gathered together to hear the Savior speak. Upon finishing the sermon, the apostles were ready to send the people away to eat (verse 15). Verse 16 says, “But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat”. This is a beautiful passage of scripture. The Good Shephard will never turn anyone away. He invites all to come unto Him and to be filled. Such is the case in this chapter. After the apostles informed Him that there were only five loaves and two fishes available, Jesus simply told them to bring the food to Him. He then “commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full” (Matthew 14: 19-20). More than five thousand people were filled that day through the power of the Savior. It is important to first acknowledge that one person- a young lad amongst the crowd -- was willing to give up the only food he had in order to feed thousands of people. This act required significant faith. This faith and consecrated sacrifice was sufficient for the Lord to magnify the food offered that day and stretch it beyond its normal capacity. When we act in faith and place an offering on the altar of God, we will always walk away better than when we arrived. Our actions and efforts to live the gospel may not always seem adequate, but when coupled with the Atonement these efforts turn into faith-infused strength and heaven-sent power. I know that as we strive to keep the commandments, live the gospel teachings, and exercise faith in doing what the Lord asks of us, then He will amplify and perfect our lives, so much so that they overflow with blessings.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Over the past two years, I have grown to truly love and treasure the Atonement of Christ. I have come to better understand what it means to me and what it does for me personally, as well as for the people in my life. There are infinite blessings that come from this infinite offering of love made possible by the Savior. Two scriptural accounts in particular have taught me about the enabling power of the Atonement this past week.
The first is found in Matthew 14 of the New Testament when Peter walked on water during a fierce storm towards Jesus. At first he was able to maintain balance upon the waves because he kept his sight on Christ; as soon as he allowed the potential danger of his situation surrounding him to fill him with fear, he began to drown. It was in this moment that “immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (verse 31). Then Jesus uttered these unexpected words, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” When reading this at first, it is easy to jump to conclusions and think that maybe Christ was being a little harsh in saying this to Peter; however, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. Our growth and progression as children of God in a difficult, imperfect world is much more important to the Savior than living a pain-free, blissful existence all our lives. He requires us to rely on faith and leave our comfort zones from time to time in order to become more like Him.
This was the case for Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 of the Book of Mormon when teaching in the land of Ammonihah. They witnessed the death of hundreds of innocent people and were cast into prison for the things they had preached. During their time in prison, they were mercilessly beaten, hit, spit upon, starved, mocked, and questioned. They suffered all these things in silence. Verse 25 says that the lawyers and priests “all went forth and smote them [Alma and Amulek], saying the same words, even until the last; and when the last had spoken unto them the power of God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet”. I love the symbolism found in this verse. They had suffered all these things even down to the last hit from the last person; that was when they found the strength within themselves placed there by the Lord to rise up from the ground. The Savior, while suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, took upon Himself every last sin, every last pain imaginable, for every last person who ever lived, before rising again to face the next challenge. Alma and Amulek were able to call upon God and “[break] the cords with which they were bound” because of their faith in Christ. This faith had waxed stronger through personally experiencing the enabling power of the Savior over a long period of time.
I would venture to say that we may be asked to suffer very difficult, trying experiences for extended periods of time- even until the last moment when we feel completely spent and hopeless- in order to fully appreciate the wonders and miracles made possible through the Atonement. Christ will always extend His hand to us in the storm, help us rise to our feet and break the cords which bind us, and save us from destruction when we call on His name and exercise faith in His infinite power. Such times are opportunities for us to become pure vessels of unshaking faith and trust in the One who loves us unconditionally and sees our potential to become great.
Monday, February 27, 2017
This past week I was reminded of one of my favorite Bible stories. It is recorded in Matthew 8 of the New Testament. This is the account of a man who was plagued, both physically and emotionally, by the disease of leprosy. He was cast out and rejected by his own people for a disease that was beyond his control. This did not, however, keep the leper from coming unto Christ when He passed through that area of the city. Verse two says, “And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”. Breaking this verse down reveals some insightful doctrine. Rather than demanding to be healed, the leper said these humble words: if thou wilt. This implies that the leper, instead of thinking about only his desires, was prepared to accept the will of the Lord and be healed only if that was the plan. As Elder Bednar would say, he had the faith not to be healed. He also knew that the healing power of Christ was sufficient for him and his particular ailment; it could be used specifically for him. Verse three reads, “And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”. It did not matter how contagious or sickly or beyond hope and repair that this man was- the Redeemer took no hesitation in coming unto one who had faith to be healed and touching that person. He stooped down to the level of a man doomed to death and loneliness and gave him a second chance at life. Brothers and sisters, family and friends, I know that the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ is for everyone. It is infinite and it is individual. All that is required is faith, humility, and a willingness to change and to act. The Lord’s will is always revealed in His own time but it is never too late to come unto Christ. As the Savior says in Moroni 7:33-34, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me… Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved”. The refining touch of the Master is available to all who believe in the words “if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”.
Monday, February 20, 2017
One of the easiest traps to fall into as a typical human being is that of inadequacy and loneliness. This life is full of hard times coupled with incredibly high expectations; it is more common than not to feel that sincere efforts are wasted and simply do not measure up or matter enough. As Exodus 18:18 says, “…for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.” The key word in this verse is “alone.” It is not possible to do most things alone, but with the help of the Savior and the enabling power of His infinite atonement, the weight need not be “too heavy.” God-given potential is, in reality, attainable when faith and trust in the Lord are part of the process.
The Savior gave the perfect instruction manual to becoming perfect like Him in two sections of scripture: Matthew 5 of The New Testament and 3 Nephi 12 of The Book of Mormon. Here he laid out a continuous stair-step pattern for all of God’s children to follow with the end goal of becoming a true disciple of Christ. One of the steps that Jesus asks all people to take is found in verse 6 of Matthew 5, which reads: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” This hunger and thirst after righteousness is fueled by a constant effort to become better, correct everyday mistakes, and do the little things that invite the Spirit, such as prayer and scripture study. This is a lifelong process that leads to incredible blessings, such as “being filled.” The diligent efforts to be good and do good create a filling- the Lord’s love and light fills in the cracks of doubt and inadequacy. His perfection, or wholeness, is mirrored in daily attempts to be like Him. He is there every step of the way and His strength makes up for mortal weakness.
Alma’s prayer in Alma 31 is an inspired example of relying on His merits; verses 30, 31, and 32 say: “…O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm… O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me… O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success…” I know that Jesus Christ will provide strength where there is weakness, hope where there is doubt, comfort where there is affliction, and success where there is failure. His love is complete and perfect; His desire is that each of us might become a finished and polished work of art after the molding and creation of His hands. All that is required is faith and consistent change.
Monday, February 13, 2017
The more I read and study the scriptures, the more convinced I am of the importance of the truth and understanding that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. He is not some abstract being. He is our father who desires all the best for us. He LOVES us. He KNOWS us. He UNDERSTANDS us. He FORGIVES us. It is incredibly important that we remember this; such a knowledge protects us from evil and gives us the strength to withstand temptation. One example is found in Alma 11. In this chapter, Amulek is offered a considerably large sum of money by Zeezrom on the condition that he will deny the existence of such a being. Part of Amulek’s incredible response is found in verse 25, which reads: “and it was only thy desire that I should deny the true and living God, that thou mightest have cause to destroy me”. This verse is truly impactful. Denying the existence of the Father of us all is ultimately and definitely destructive. One of the enemy’s strongest tools is to confuse us concerning the relationship we have with God. If he can successfully do that, then he has begun the process of our destruction in every sense of the word -- temporally, emotionally, spiritually. The wonderful reality is that we are in control of whether or not we allow this to happen to us. Like Amulek, we can choose to believe and even know without a doubt that we are children of God. This is very empowering. It is as simple as kneeling down and offering a prayer -- I love knowing that the distance between us and the heavens is only a prayer. He speaks to us in the still and quiet moments; we just have to be willing to listen. As Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible”. He is on our side. I encourage all of you to take time to reflect this week on your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Remember who you are and where you come from. As Brother Griffin says, “Know that you are loved”. It is a saving truth.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
This past week in class we began learning a bit more about the Four Gospels in “The New Testament”- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John- in regards to their writing styles, the audiences to whom they were writing and teaching at the time, their varying relationships with the Savior Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, and other such factors that influenced the records they left behind which we read today in the Bible. While learning about these four different men, Mark especially captured my attention. He begins writing a little later (twenty years after the departure of Christ) and starts his account of the Lord’s ministry with His baptism, continuing from there. He serves to give a quickly-paced overview of the life of Jesus, hardly stopping to take pauses and give more explanation. His records were originally meant to be delivered orally, giving further reason to the running, fluid cadence of his speech. Brother Griffin, my religion professor, invited the class to experiment a little by first reading Mark’s account and then speaking it aloud in order to more fully appreciate this unique style of writing. This invitation, coupled with a recent invitation and promise given by President Russell M. Nelson in a Worldwide Young Single Adult Devotional in January that if we were to study the life and words and character of the Savior that we would have a decreased desire to disobey and an increased desire to keep the commandments, motivated me to learn more about Christ by reading the book of Mark. I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have learned so far and wish to share a small insight with you that had a great impact on me this week.
In Mark 1, we read about one particular experience in which the Lord visits the mother-in-law of Simon (Peter- one of the newly called Twelve Apostles) who lays in sick in bed. Verses 30 through 31 read, “But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon [immediately] they tell him of her. And he [Jesus] came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.” I absolutely loved these two verses for the powerful, symbolic lesson taught in so few words. First, the Savior took no hesitation in going to rescue some struggling soul. This has always been and will always be the case. The Savior comes running to us when we are in trouble and extends His saving hand to all. In verse 31, it says that He “took her by the hand, and lifted her up”. This is very symbolic of the Atonement- the act of love that Christ performed for us by suffering for our sins and heartaches in Gethsemane, suffering death on the cross at Calvary, and resurrecting from the tomb on the third day. The Atonement has the power to lift us in many different ways- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. The Atonement has given mankind the gift of resurrection, meaning that every single person in the history of the whole world will be lifted physically from death and the grave and be lifted to God’s presence to be judged. The Atonement also lifts us from the dark places of our lives, whether that be a trial we are passing through or a mistake that ways us down. When we accept the outstretched hand He extends to us by deciding to repent, pray, fast, change, and start over, we are lifted.
What follows in this verse is absolutely miraculous; it reads that “immediately the fever left her”, meaning that she experienced immediate and complete relief of what she had been going through. Then “she ministered unto them”, meaning that she was able to impart of the change that had occurred within her to others around her. The Atonement of Jesus Christ brings immediate relief. I do not mean to say that all will be resolved the first time we ask for forgiveness or that a magical wand will suddenly make all our life’s problems disappear, but every time we choose to follow the Savior and draw closer to Him, an immediate relief will flow into our lives and there will be a peace that was not there before. We will feel a difference and be able to minister unto others, just as the woman in this account did. When we allow the Atonement to heal us, we are more able to serve those around us and help them to find the same comfort and saving grace in their lives. We can symbolically become the hands of the Lord by serving those around us and helping them to apply the healing power of the Atonement personally. I know that as we strive to come closer to Him, He will always draw near unto us, heal us, and enable us to rescue others in need.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Agency, or the ability to choose given to each of us by our Father in Heaven, is an incredible blessing and gift. It has also become one of my very most favorite gospel principles to study and learn more about over the last two years. This past week while studying more about the creation and our first parents, Adam and Eve, in class at BYU I have been struck yet again by the importance of this fundamental doctrine of the gospel and how our Heavenly Father understands its importance as well. Agency has been a part of God’s plan from the beginning and played a huge role in the Garden of Eden. In Moses 3:17-18 we read, “And I, the Lord God, commanded the man [Adam], saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”. God laid out the commandment and the consequences exactly and explicitly and clearly so that there would be no misunderstanding; NEVERTHELESS, God also explained very clearly that it would be their choice whether or not to partake of the fruit. They were given their agency. That is what put the whole plan into motion. Our Heavenly Father had enough trust in Adam and Eve to let them make that choice. He loves all of us as His children to allow us to do the same thing.
Oftentimes, that is incredibly difficult for us to do- allow those we love to make decisions out of a desire to protect them rather than give them those opportunities of growth and personal progression. Elder Richard G. Scott gives wonderful counsel in a General Conference session of April 2014, “The children of Father in Heaven can do amazing things when they feel trusted. Every child of God chose the Savior’s plan. Trust that given the opportunity, they will do so again.” When speaking of his wife, he said, “She loved me enough to share her conviction and then give me the opportunity to work out the direction of my own life”. Part of showing our love for others is protecting their agency. Exercising faith through exercising agency is what sets forth the path of progression to becoming more like Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
One of the greatest commandments of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the commandment to love one another. There is no better example of this than Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They love each one of us with a love so infinite and so perfect that it goes beyond our comprehension. This love is manifested in many ways -- through guidance given to us by ancient and modern revelations of the prophets, the creation of the earth upon which we live, the everlasting sacrifice offered by the Savior to save the world from sin. There are countless ways in which we experience the effects of that great commandment to love one another.
Oftentimes, I feel the love of my Father and my Savior through the acts of others. As children of God, we have the opportunity to show His love through service and be the answer to someone else’s prayer. This is a sure outcome when we follow promptings from the Spirit. One of my favorite examples of this is found in the Book of Mormon in Alma 8 when Alma is commanded to return to the city of Ammonihah after being rejected and cast out by the people there. Alma was faithful and obedient to this commandment and returned speedily to the city by another way, as it says in verse 18. Because of this, he was met by an equally faithful and obedient man -- Amulek -- who had followed promptings from the Holy Ghost. This account can be found in Alma 8:18-27. After Alma asks Amulek to receive him into his house, Amulek gives this reply, “…I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house”. Amulek had been prepared to answer the prayer of his fellow man, Alma. Later, Alma blesses Amulek and his household twice (verses 22 and 26). These two were some of the greatest missionaries found in the Book of Mormon because of their ability to love others, bring to pass miracles, and touch lives.
I was reminded of this concept last Friday while visiting Temple Square in Salt Lake City. There, I met two sister missionaries from Mexico serving in the Visitors’ Center. It was wonderful speaking with them and hearing about their experiences. They helped me to remember that the small, daily acts we do for others, especially when we cannot see the outcome or “fruits” of those acts, really do mean something and make a difference. Simply loving others allows us to feel a small part of what our Heavenly Father and Savior feel for us. This is essential in developing the pure love of Christ and becoming more like Him. Today is an excellent day to set goals of serving others and answering the prayer of someone in need. I know that as we put forth an effort to do so, “God [will provide] a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore [we become] a great benefit to [our] fellow beings” (Mosiah 8:18).
Sunday, January 15, 2017
It has now been 5 weeks since the return home from serving the people of Mexico City. What an extraordinary experience full of blessings, miracles, and (of course) adventures! My heart longs to be with the family and friends I now have in Mexico -- people who taught me more than I could ever teach them -- but it is so wonderful to be home with you all! We have just enjoyed “the most wonderful time of the year” celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, with those we love, as well as ringing in a new year. Now, after having enjoyed the festivities that come with Christmas and New Year’s Day, we are left to move forward into the unknown. Beginning a new year is always a daunting task and can leave us with a feeling of longing to go back to the joys of the Christmas Season. I have had similar feelings since returning home from a mission. Let me share a few thoughts that I have had over the course of this last week during my personal scripture study and the religion course I am currently taking.
In the “Christ and the Everlasting Gospel” class I am enrolled in this semester we read parts of Moses 1 found in “The Pearl of Great Price” during the week. Something interesting that was discussed was the fact that Moses, after having been in God’s presence and literally speaking with Him face to face (verses 1-8) was then left to himself (verses 9-11). Almost immediately after, the Adversary came to tempt him (verse 12). How difficult that must have been to be in the presence of the Supreme Creator for a time and then to be attacked by the enemy of all righteousness! Moses was hit with tribulation so soon after a marvelous, faith promoting experience. Each one of us has experienced something similar- returning to the “real world” after serving a full time mission or going back to the daily routine of school and work after a wonderful Christmas vacation. It may even be facing what lies ahead after a particularly rich scripture study, temple visit, church meeting, or General Conference session. When we feel that we are at our peak, something comes that rocks us to the core and challenges us in such a way we have never before experienced. I am grateful to know and understand (thanks to the incredible lecture from my professor Brother G) that these trials are meant for our good. This “equal and opposite reaction” of a difficulty following an incredible experience is meant to teach and underscore the contrast of such experiences; cultivate humility; and provide necessary growth and progression. Moses experienced the power of the Savior when he called upon His name to cast out Satan in Moses 1: 21 and recognized the grand difference between these two beings. So it is with us if we will choose to call upon the powers of heaven during difficult times.
It is a comfort to know that we will never be abandoned if we hold true to what we know. One particular verse that captured my attention this past week is found in Alma 4: 15 of “The Book of Mormon”. Alma experienced great sorrow due to the sinful state of his people and the persecution of the faithful; however, the last line of this verse reads, “nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him”. My dear friends, I know that as we strive to do our best to remain steadfast and true to the Lord, His spirit will never abandon us and we will be able to grow during the trials that come our way. They are learning opportunities that bring us closer to our beloved Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ.
I desire for each of you a wonderful week full of peace and personal growth.