Getting to The End

So you know that feeling once you’ve finished a really good movie and you see the short little phrase, the end? You feel a little bit sad, but you’re glad that everything turned out the way that you wanted it to. Then you think about it for a time, how the story developed, things that you liked and things that you didn’t. Then you think, all good things must come to an end. Well I’m approaching the end of my service as a full time representative for the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s had the most amazing high points, and its had some extreme lows and now that I’m getting to the end, I keep reviewing how. How did I get to this point. How am I different as a result of it. How will my life change because of it. How did I make it. All of these questions that I have.

Since reviewing it though, I’ve been able to recognize many of the things that I’ve learned and they will forever change my life. I want to share this with you.

1. Finding out who I like to be and why. I’ve found that although I enjoy being sarcastic and kind of a pain. I’ve found that I don’t like that person I become when I am. I like enjoying the world around me and laughing until my stomach hurts. I realize that I like enjoying what is going on and enjoying the good qualities of the people around me. Is it easy for me to be this person? Not at all. Do I like it still? Of course.

2. Learning to be like the Savior and getting over my fear to open my mouth and invite others to come closer to Christ. You know those two things that are taboo to talk about, politics and religion? I definitely had to overcome that fear of meeting people for the first time and talking about Christ.  These spiritual experiences that I’ve had and the truths I hold dear, they’re hard to share and watch people reject.

3. I had no idea if I would be able to handle the pain, the rejecting, and the trials that come from representing Jesus Christ. Like Elder Holland says “I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap expereince. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.” then he continues on and says this, it’s slightly more encouraging than the first one. “When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lieved. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is though Him-the Wa,y the Truth, and the Life.” So I comforted myself with the words of the apostles in my times of trial and hardship.

4. Learning from those around me! There are so many wonderfully strong and talented people on this planet and if we just took the time to get to know one another and learn what others have gone through and how they’ve done it with great faith and strength and trust in the Lord-it astounds me!

5. Having the supreme privilege of seeing God’s children, us, seeing us the way that Heavenly Father sees us. He loves us so much and He wants us to experience joy. Part of that is making mistakes and then having the courage to overcome them, to make changes, and to grow. Heavenly Father is so good and kind and merciful! It’s hart to take that step to trust Him and it’s a daily step but once you’ve made it once, it becomes easier and easier to trust.

These are only a few of the many things that I’ve learned and that I want to share. There is so much that I’ve experienced and learned from and have come to know and I’m so grateful to know that Heavenly Father loves me. That Jesus Christ is my Savior.  I’m grateful that God calls men to be His prophets and that we are blessed to have one on the earth today and I guarantee that if everybody would follow the prophet, the world would be a much more beautiful place. I know the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ because that’s the instrument I used to come to know my Savior. And I say these things in His sacred name, Amen.

Just around the river bend….

I look once more. For those of you that don’t know, this is from Pocahontas. Ok so how often do you find yourself singing Disney songs? I know I do it still. I’ll get a random urge and the songs just come bursting forth, I always feel badly for those that have to hear me but I love Disney songs and amazingly enough, there are great lessons to be learned in some of them.

This song is especially one that I loved singing as a child. I really wanted to be Pocahontas so badly but knew that I never could. Now that I’m a little bit older I can see the value of what she was contemplating. Often we’re making life changing decisions that will affect us in ways that we can’t even imagine. Sometimes I seem to make those decisions in a snap but other times I hem and haw my way through until I’m forced to make a decision. Sometimes I don’t feel bad when sitting in a restaurant and I don’t make my mind up until the server arrives and is asking me what I want. Other times I can’t do that.

Today I wanted to compare us to the river. Pocahontas loved the adventurous water and kept bringing surprises around each corner. Her father loved the steady moving water-it wasn’t fast, it wasn’t exciting but it was moving. Of course, if we are to be like that water than we need to be continually moving forward and getting to where we need to be. This is how our progression towards God can be. We either move forward very quickly or we move forward steadily but we can always be moving forward.  Sadly, I know I’ve reached points in my life and especially on my mission where I seem stuck, almost like a dam in a river. Dams stop our progression and keep us from going to where we want to go. Now in real life, dams can be quite useful but spiritually, you don’t want to be dammed.

We want to keep moving forward and we want to continue to learn and move closer to our Father in Heaven. We can overcome those spiritual obstacles that keep us from our Father through prayer, through scripture study, through service, through becoming more and more like our Father in Heaven and then we will no longer be damned and we can experience true joy.

Like a river, always looking towards the next bend, being prepared for anything and witht he Lord on our side, we can take on any white water, any tricky bends, any currents, open water, waterfalls, or whatever nature or life throws our way. Don’t get trapped in the idea that you’re stuck forever when you get stuck because you can change, you can have that joy and you can continue to overcome anything and everything.

Lessons Learned from a pheasant

A couple of weeks ago, my companion and I were driving down a road, trying to figure out where we should go next when off to the side, by a fence, we see a pheasant. We stop the car and begin admiring this beautiful creation of God’s. As we are looking at all of the different colors and designs we notice that it only has one leg. At first we thought that it could just be standing on one leg (I don’t know if pheasants normally do that or not). Then the bird begins hopping forward and we knew for sure at that point that it definitely only had one leg.

I’ve given this pheasant a lot of thought and in many ways, we are similar to that pheasant. We all possess qualities that are beautiful on the inside and on the out; on the other hand, we all struggle with trials that can be quite debilitating. These struggles may not be apparent at first glance, or they might be. But I know that our struggles that we have are tailored to what we can handle. I know at times it really doesn’t feel like we can but with the Lord’s help, all things are possible and so is overcoming each of our trials.

Now I know when I have trials, I’m a whiner! If I don’t say anything at all (which is rally rather rare) then I wish and think and hope and pray that other people will notice and take pity, or help me out of anything at all. Thankfully Heavenly Father is kind and doesn’t give me extremely hard trials because He knows that I don’t handle them well at all. What I always seem to forget is that, other people are doing the exact same thing! They are hoping that somebody will notice them and help them out. And because we are all God’s children, that is what He would have us do.

In a recent talk given by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf “Pride and the Priesthood” President Uchtdorf is speaking on overcoming price and he says this about becoming humble. “Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing  ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of seving God and our fellowman.” I love this quote because we can feel powerful in the knowledge that we are children of God and we can continue forward and rely solely on our Father in Heaven as we go about serving God’s children and helping them through the individual trials that they are having.

What President Uchtorf is saying is an echo of what Christ says when in Luke 9:24 it says “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” If we give up our own desires and serve God’s children, our brothers and sisters, we will all be able to realize who each of us is and treat one another accordingly. We can make a difference in this dark and scary world and share the light that we already possess.

Nothing Left Untouched

We were speaking with a family the other day and they brought up that as a family they’ve decided to go to the “Most Magical Place on Earth” otherwise known as Disneyland. The more that we talked about this family’s upcoming trip and how much fun they were going to have, the more I wanted to go their with my family.

Honestly Disneyland and Disney World are great places because it’s a place that you can strengthen your family and have some amazing, good, clean fun with your family. Disney does it right. They work hard to make sure that everybody that goes there has a ‘magical’ experience and they leave wanting to come back. They work so hard to keep it a clean environment where people come to feel welcome and special. I know when I was younger, it’s always fun to go up to the character that you admire and they learn your name and you get to talk to Belle or Cinderella and  everything just makes you feel so wonderful. Well Disney does this for a reason. They want you to have a wonderful experience so when you go home, you can tell all of your friends about it and especially that children leave feeling special. It really is amazing everything that they do.

The woman was saying that Disney doesn’t leave anything untouched. Even the door handles are etched with little Disney characters and they do everything right. Because Disney goes into such great detail-no wonder it can be a hefty price to get in. My missionary mind started moving. If Disney works so hard to make it a great experience for us to go there and want to go back, how much more does our Heavenly Father do to help us get to his kingdom? He gives us many great things to help us along our way. He gives us prophets as is stated in Amos 3:7. Heavenly Father is the same, He’s dependable and so if He’s manifested himself through prophets in the past, He will do it again-and He has.

He also automatically puts us with people that their job is to help us grow and be happy and come closer to Him. It’s called families. Though our families aren’t perfect, it’s a great way to foster growth in the Gospel especially because this world is loosely patterned after that of heaven. So our Heavenly Father gives us Prophets, He gives us families, and He gives us friends. When speaking of God, a previous prophet said “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” Spencer W Kimball “Small Acts of Service”

Heavenly Father leaves nothing untouched and there is a price that we pay in order to “gain admission” into the kingdom of God. We do that by following the example of Jesus Christ. We follow in His foot steps into the waters of baptism, into serving those around us, into helping others gain access to the kingdom of God: by being like Him. When we do gain admission into that kingdom, it will be so much better than meeting a Disney Prince or Princess because we’ll be going up to our Heavenly Father that already knows our name. He already knows how special we are. For that, I am so grateful that God loves us and cares for us and wants us to be happy.

Life is a treadmill

 Have you ever just looked at a treadmill? Just look at one and notice that the only way to move on it is forward. When you’re on one, it takes work to stay on it. It takes some effort to stay on the thing and sometimes we control the intensity of the work out and sometimes we choose one of the workouts and it will push us. The purpose is to push us to new levels and to help us improve in some aspect of our lives. It just depends on the goals that you have. If you want to lose weight, than you pick a cardio work out, if you want to push yourself to the extreme of how fast you can go, then you do that.

Life is a treadmill. You choose to get on it and once you do, you choose the intensity of the pace that you want, you choose if you want to have an incline or not, if your treadmill gives you that option, and you move forward.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same way. Getting into the gospel of Jesus Christ is like stepping on a treadmill. We’re meant to move forward and be pushed to our limits. Sometimes we choose the pace at which we are going to progress and other times, Heavenly Father pushes us to levels that we never thought we could reach. I think of the examples in the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon, the first prophet’s name is Lehi. He chooses to follow God and when he does that, he sees a vision, is given the revelation to leave Jerusalem and come to ‘the promised land’ on the American continent. I’m sure that when Lehi chose to follow God that he never thought that he would take his family and leave the land that he was raised in. Then he was brought to the American continent and his family became two great nations. They also knew about our Savior Jesus Christ and they also had their times of good and bad and it culminated in Christ coming to visit Lehi’s descendants. I’m sure he never realized how much the Lord would push him but I’m sure glad that Lehi stayed on his treadmill for it has changed my life and so many other lives. It has brought me so much closer to my Heavenly Father with more knowledge of our Savior.

Do you know what your limits are? Are you ready to blow past those limits with God on your side? I know I sure am. I don’t know how strong the Lord wants me to be but I know that He is going to take me places that I never thought possible.