Monday, April 15, 2013

Seeking the Christ

Recently, there's been some things I've been a little discouraged about.  I just have no way of knowing if it'll work out the way I would like!  And I'm definitely a planner and I like having at least a 2 1/2 year plan or so.  That gives me a sense of security.  So having that uncertainty just plain bugs me...
But this week I've been learning the power and importance of hope.  "And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak concerning hope.  How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?  Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope." (Moroni 7:40, 42).  Faith and hope must go hand in hand.  They build each other up.
But remember, "And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart."  (Moroni 7:43).  But that's often easier said than done, right?  I've noticed that the harder I try to be good and follow Christ, the more I realize how far I still have to go.
How do we become like Christ?  Well, I know that charity if the pure love of Christ.  So what's charity then?  "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."  (Moroni 7:45).  For me, charity was a difficult concept to truly understand.  Now I want to connect two things for you.
Read the past scripture again, but replace the word "charity" with "Christ."
Isn't it amazing how much more powerful that is?  It's easier for me to wrap my simple mind around an abstract concept like charity when I can give it a form of embodiment.  Christ really did suffer long.  He was kind to all, even to those who didn't return it.  He spent His time among the poorest people, and as He hung on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive the people responsible for His crucifixion.  He is the ultimate example for us to follow.
If you're anything like me, that will seem a little intimidating.  The Savior was perfect, but I am far from it.  "And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written..."  (Ether 12:41).  Remember, seek and ye shall find, ask and it will be given to you, knock and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Storms of Life

Sometimes, it rains.  Maybe it will sprinkle.  Occasionally it pours.  But I don't mean like what happens to be going on outside right now, but on the inside.  In the parts of your life that you can't physically see.  
The Book of Mormon tells us the story of the Brother of Jared.  He and his people had to cross the ocean in barges to get to a land that God had promised to them.  "And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind... And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven before the wind" (Ether 6:5,8).  The Brother of Jared probably expected some wind, but a storm that never stopped?  Winds and waves that lasted for almost a year??
The Lord has been known to do this with us.  Sometimes, all we can see is the storm.  Our lives are being bashed by the waves of the sea.  We don't know if we're going to make it.  Yet, we must trust that God has a "promised land" for us.  He takes opportunities to push us toward something better.  And it will hardly ever be a gentle push.  I'm learning that the harder life gets, the more spiritual progress we can make, even though we can't see it.  
Trust me, it's not an easy lesson to learn.  The hardest part for me is my attitude about a problem.  "And they did sing praise unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord" (Ether 6:9).  These people were stuck on a boat in torrential rains for almost a year, and they were thanking the Lord!  In my opinion, I think it's ok to mourn.  It's ok to be sad or disappointed.  But keep your head up.  Don't give up on that promised land you're heading for just yet.  Trials are a time of learning and growing.  You can either turn to the Lord and grow closer to Him, or turn away, shaking your fist at Him in anger.  
For me, I would rather deal with short term storms than eternal punishment.  Of course, your options won't always be put so simply, but never forget that it's the little things that will make a big difference.  Scripture study, prayer, going to church.  Simple, yet they can be the difference between the straight and narrow path or starting to wander in spiritual darkness.  Hold on to those little things, that little bit of faith you have.  These little things are what will help you draw closer to Him during your storms and stress.
Finally, remember to hope.  Hope for that promised land to come.  Because God is your loving Heavenly Father, He will push you.  He will push you in a direction that will lead to such great happiness.  He doesn't want you to give up on the wonderful things He has in mind for you.  
"...wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which [He] hast prepared" (Ether 12:32).