Sunday, June 13, 2010

Becoming a Peaceable Follower

Ever since Mike was called to the High Council, he's fretted over finding speaking companions. It's becoming easier now that he knows more people in the Stake, and has found that a lot of Bishops prefer to have someone--mainly youth--from their own Ward speak along with him. Today was Mike's turn to speak in our ward, and you'll NEVER guess who he "asked" to be his speaking companion.........okay, maybe that was too easy.

I was actually really glad to get to speak. Preparing a talk always gives me direction to my studying, and of course, I always learn more than I am able to relay to any congregation. The difference in preparing this time, was that I got to come up with my own topic. A little daunting at first, but then I realized that I'd already been given my topic as experiences in the last month or so slowly came together like the pieces of a puzzle.

I've always given myself more of an outline to speak from because I like the interaction that I get from the congregation when I can look into their faces, as opposed to looking down at a piece of paper, and reading a talk word-for-word. (This is how I like to teach my lessons, too.) This time, though, was different. I had so many moments throughout the last few weeks where full sentences and even paragraphs came to my mind, that I had to write them down right then and there as I knew from whence they came. When my talk was finally written, I knew that my old style of "winging it" would not do justice to the words which had come so clearly, and so quickly as I studied day after day. I have to admit, it was a little uncomfortable for me to deliver my talk this way, but as I read the words of the talk, I felt the Spirit witness to me for a second time that the words were not my own. I'm so grateful that the Lord has established His Church in such a way that would allow someone as flawed as me, to receive inspiration and truth from Him, and then to share that same truth with others as if it had been Himself delivering it. What a blessing!

So, for the sake of remembering this experience, I'll record my talk here because I know that one day, when my faith is lacking and doubts creep in, I'll read this and I'll remember and I'll feel.

After some heath issues had finally been somewhat resolved, I was able to return to the gym a couple of months ago.While I’m still unable to do some of the things I would like, it feels so good for this former athlete to be moving again! One day in particular, just a couple of weeks ago, I was running on the elliptical machine, my music blasting a fast beat so I could keep my heart rate up. As I came to the last few minutes of my workout, I felt this overwhelming urge to go faster and push harder. While I was already running at a pretty good pace, sweating and panting, I mustered everything in me and forced my legs to move faster than they had in years, literally sprinting for the last three minutes. I didn’t know if I would actually make it to the end, but when the words “Workout Complete” flashed across my monitor, amid my complete exhaustion, I felt an ultimate sense of euphoria, for having pushed myself when that moment came, and for having accomplished something I hadn’t thought I could do.

There are always great lessons to be learned and gospel principles to be reinforced in seemingly ordinary moments. As I thought about what had happened at the gym that morning, my thoughts turned to what Elder Hafen shared with us at the Saturday night session of Stake Conference.

Moroni 7: 3 says: “Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven. 4 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men. 5 For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.”

With this scripture, he illustrated that there is a difference between being an ACTIVE member of the church, as Moroni directed his words to those "that are of the church", and being a CONSECRATED member of the church, or to those whom Moroni further directed his comments, "that are the peaceable followers of Christ". As active members of the church, we get up every morning for our appointment with the treadmill. We walk, or maybe even jog, at a comfortable pace, making sure we’re not sweating too much, or breathing too hard. We show up and as soon as the timer counts down to 0:00, we’re DONE. We gather our things and close the door behind us, as we head off to start our day, having met our obligation.

One of my favorite sayings is, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you get.” As children of our Heavenly Father, we’re blessed with a divine potential to become even as He is, but in order to do so, we must often times, push past our comfort zone and allow Him to shape us into who He knows we can become. As C.S. Lewis put it in his well-known “House” analogy, “You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building up a palace.”

I’m convinced that just like that urge that came out of the blue to sprint the last three minutes of my workout, we’re each blessed with opportunities that present themselves to us, to push harder, to go longer, and to be better than we at that moment thought we could. That impression to stop what were doing, and go visit someone. Getting out of bed an hour earlier to start the day with your scriptures. Saying “Yes” when the Bishop says, “The Lord has called you…” In order for us to be CONSECRATED members of the Church—the peaceable followers of Christ--we must make ourselves aware of those sometimes fleeting moments, where we choose either maintenance or growth.

The importance of inviting the Holy Ghost and having His influence to be with us throughout the day CANNOT be overstated. In order to fill the measure of our creation, we must rely on the unfathomable power of that third member of the Godhead to guide and direct us, and as I’ve more recently discovered, to encourage and uplift as we spend our days trying to complete an often very long list of to do’s and to be’s. As we kneel in humble prayer each morning, we ought to consecrate our day’s performance to the Lord, and in doing so, we will find that our thoughts turn more often to Him. We will more clearly see through the barrage of unimportance to that which is most important—obedience to His commandments, and our relationships with ALL His children.

Because we are mortal and do sin and transgress so easily, we must continually re-invite the Holy Ghost to be with us. Something as seemingly small as losing our temper with a child, or getting angry at the guy who cut us off on the freeway, are enough to drive the Spirit away. Perhaps this is why God so wisely commanded us to pray always. Doing so with a repentant heart will allow having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion be more than just words in a blessing—it will be our reality!

2 Nephi 32:5 states, “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” As we search for direction and light in this darkening world, isn’t it comforting to KNOW that we can ALWAYS have access to that? Imagine what great things the Lord is just waiting to show us that we can and should do and what we can and should be, if only we qualify ourselves for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost!

As CONSECRATED members of the church, we won’t be satisfied with the status quo. We won’t measure our service in 30-minute intervals, closing the door behind us, saying we have done enough. But instead, we’ll stay until the growth comes. And just when we think we’ve given our all, we’ll be shown that we can dig deeper. With the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we will find that we have so much more to give than we ever thought possible, and therefore have “obtained a sufficient hope by which {we} can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until {we} shall rest with him in heaven.” We will BE the peaceable followers of Christ, and will be rewarded with more joy than we ever thought possible.

President Boyd K. Packer has promised that, “To gain and forever hold on to a testimony of gospel truths is worth whatever price in spiritual preparation we may be required to pay.”

I testify that Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and Savior, and the Redeemer of the World; that the Holy Ghost’s influence can and will move us to fulfill our divine potential; and that The Book of Mormon contains these truths. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet on the earth today. These things I know because the Spirit has borne testimony to me of their truth, and that witness I cannot and will not deny!

3 comments:

Marisa said...

Thank you for sharing your talk here. Certain parts of it were really helpful for me to read.

Jeanie Anderson said...

That was a really good talk. Glad I found it to read. Also, glad I found you again through Megan's facebook list. Take Care, Jeanie

Sister Peartree said...

Thank you for this post. I really found it useful today!