Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My talk

I’m heading out for 2-years to the Adriatic North Mission, a beautiful area between Greece and Italy. Some days I feel I can do anything, and am thinking along the lines of, “challenge accepted” and “bring it on” in regards to my mission. Other days I wonder, “Whose idea was this? To send me, a scrawny goof from Idaho there?”, until I remember that this is a call from the Lord. I don’t know why Heavenly Father chose me to serve there, but I know that He has many reasons, and I can’t wait to find out why. I know that any assignment that comes from the Lord is inspired, and that he has a plan for me. Furthermore, whatever happens, I know that God will provide a way for me to do what he has commanded.

I want to begin by sharing a letter I received many years ago from a dear friend. It reads:

I just had to write to tell you how much I love you and care for you. Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends; I hoped that soon you'd want Me to walk along with you, too.
So, I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited and you never called. I just kept on loving you.
As I watched you fall asleep last night, I wanted so much to touch you. I spilled moonlight onto your face- trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. You didn't even think of me; I wanted so much to comfort you.
The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into a glorious morning for you. But you woke up late and rushed off to work- you didn't even notice. My sky became cloudy and My tears were the rain.
I love you. Oh, if you'd only listen. I really love you. I try to say it in the quiet of the green meadow and in the blue sky.
The wind whispers My love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colors of the flowers. I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls and compose love songs for birds to sing for you.
I warm you with the clothing of My sunshine and perfume the air with nature's sweet scent. My love for you is deeper than the ocean and greater than any need in your heart. If you'd only realize how I care. I died just for you.
My Dad sends His love. I want you to meet Him. He cares, too. Fathers are just that way. So please call Me soon. No matter how long it takes, I'll wait because I love you.

Your Friend,
Jesus Christ

I love the Savior, and I know that he loves each and every one of us. Because of Him, we are never alone. This beautiful way the Savior’s love is portrayed here makes me feel the words of the primary songs, “I Feel my Savior’s Love”, “Beautiful Savior”, and “How Great Thou Art” so much more deeply. Such feelings, I feel, can only be truly expressed fully through music. Many times, when I was feeling worthless or beaten or just not good enough, the words “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?” these words came to my mind, almost so subtly that I didn’t notice. And then, time and time again, I felt my Savior’s love, in all the world around me, and his spirit warmed my heart. Having the Savior in my life means everything to me, and I hope that He means everything to you. In Moses 1:39, it reads, for behold this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. To me, Christ is everything. To Christ, we are everything.

As a missionary, our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. And since “every member a missionary”, that is really the purpose for all of us. Essentially, this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. First, faith in Jesus Christ, which is the basis for any testimony we have. By believing in him, we find that we want to follow his teachings, which leads us to repentance. We then repent so that we can follow Christ. In order to fully follow Christ, we must be baptized, as he was, and then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, to guide us to follow his example as closely as we can. Finally, we must endure to the end. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t include some sort of running analogy, and I feel it fits very well here. When in a long-distance race, I spend most of my time in that race in a state where my body is on the edges of how fast I can run, without it hurting. Towards the end of a race, when going for a final sprint, all pretenses of staying in that zone, and try and push through the pain for my final “kick.” For me, I feel this final sprint is not a part of “enduring” however. In the gospel, we must endure to the end. Heavenly Father knows exactly where our edges are, and what we need to do to become the best that we can be. But this ‘pace’ that Heavenly Father asks of us is not a slow walk that does not challenge us, nor is it a sprint that will leave us collapsed and unable to stand, but a solid run, at the edge of our limits, where we will learn and grow the most. Enduring to the end is not easy, but with our Heavenly Father’s guidance, we can all make it back to him.

Brothers and sisters, I know this church is true. To echo the words of Paul in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” I know that this is God’s church on this earth, and that through this gospel, we can return to live with our father in heaven again. Time and time again, I have put this gospel to the test. And I testify, as Joseph Smith did, “after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that through Him, the priesthood was restored, and that Jesus Christ lives, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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