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I dedicate this post to the dedication of the dedicated…

22 Sep

A couple of weeks ago, we New York missionaries were asked to ponder the question “How can I be a successful missionary?”. In the midst of my pondering, I came across a story told by President Thomas S. Monson:

Elder Thomas Michael Wilson entered the mission field already having battled cancer in his 23 years of life. His companions described his faith as ” unquestioning, undeviating, and unyielding”. 11 months into his 2 years of service, cancer returned, but Elder Wilson persisted in his missionary efforts. He underwent surgery and the amputation of his arm, but stayed in the mission field. President Monson relates how “Elder Wilson continued month after month his precious but painful service as a missionary. Blessings were given; prayers were offered. Because of his example of dedication, his fellow missionaries lived closer to God.” As the end of his mission drew near, so did the end of his short life, but he asked, and was allowed, to serve one additional month. Elder Wilson died shortly after returning home, and was buried with his missionary nametag in place.

As I read this story, I recognized it as a success story. Elder Wilson’s life was short. He didn’t make a lot of money. He didn’t raise a beautiful family. He didn’t set any records or break any barriers. But he dedicated himself completely to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’ve also seen this same quality over and over in the mormon.org videos. These are quick glimpses into the lives of members of the LDS church and each one seems to be a glimpse into a life of success and joy. The common thread that I’ve seen is that each person featured talks about their dedication to worthy causes — family, talents, interests, life.

One of my favorite quotes comes from George Bernard Shaw, who said:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

Dedication is success. In the last few weeks I have formed the opinion that to be successful in life, all one has to do is find something worthy to be passionate about, and be dedicated. For my part, I choose to be dedicated to my family, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and, for the next week and a half, my mission as a representative of the Lord.

What are we bearing?

21 Jul

A few weeks ago, as I sat in church, I heard a talk about testimonies. The speaker read the definition of “bearing”, since we often say within the church that when we state what we know to be true we are “bearing a testimony“. He listed off some of the different uses of “bearing”

1. bearing arms

2. bearing a burden

3. bearing a cross

As he read these, it struck me that we are really bearing only one thing at a time in this life. Perhaps we are bearing arms–holding a grudge against the world and hoping to get back at someone, or fight for what we think is ours. Or, maybe we’re bearing a burden–suffering through some trial or affliction. Maybe that burden has become a cross that we bear–something that is literally or figuratively killing us.

But we don’t have to bear any of these things if we are bearing a testimony. A testimony is a knowledge of God, gained by the power of the Holy Ghost. When we read from the scriptures, attend church, or pray to our Heavenly Father, He answers us by sending the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to lift us up and to teach us what is true.

So if we turn to God with trust and if we continue to draw closer to Him, no matter what we have been bearing in the past, we can set aside that load and take up the lighter yoke of a testimony, something that will help us through this life and keep us close to our Savior and our Father.

Healed, but not Cured

8 Jul

I was so touched by this story that I read on mormon.org:

When I was seventeen, I started my senior year of high school running varsity cross country. One clear Saturday morning, we went to a meet a couple cities away. I didn’t feel poorly before the race began, and I ran my best ever for a while. Then I began to feel like I was going to faint. I pushed that feeling aside with all my might, while praying that if I had to go down that I would not faint somewhere I might be seriously hurt. As I reached my coaches part way through the course, I collapsed on the black top.

This was my first faint, and the first indication that I had a chronic, incurable disorder called neurocardiogenic syncope, a part of dysautonomia. It changed my life dramatically, forcing me to finish high school from home and delay college. I lost my identity, my independence, and my friends. But I did not lose my faith in Christ.

My greatest comfort during that time was reading and talking of Christ. I particularly loved the stories of the New Testament where he healed the lame, the blind, the woman with the issue of blood. I remember praying earnestly that I too had sufficient faith to be healed. I pleaded for my life back. I desired to be taken up in His arms and made whole.

As much time passed, I realized that He had healed me, not cured me. I accepted that though He had the power to cure me, He had chosen not to at this time. As my mother taught when she cried with me at my bedside, Christ is the only one who understands what I go through. If He knows that I need this ever present governor to develop me into who He needs me to be, then I accept. And that has made all the difference.

In the Book of Mormon is the story of a people who were in bondage, and they suffered a lot. They were threatened with death just for praying, but they didn’t stop calling upon God. They prayed in their hearts night and day for release. God didn’t free this people right away, but He did “ease the burdens which [were] put upon [their] backs,” and He “did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease” (Mosiah 24: 14-15)

I know that God hears our prayers. Even when we can’t see the answer right away, we can trust that He is working for our good. And that trust may not cure us, but it can heal us.

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

16 Jun

The Touch Of The Master’s Hand
Myra B. Welch

‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar, then, two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three . . .”
But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low, said:
“What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
“Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
“Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;
And going and gone.”said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand, what changed its worth?”
Swift came the reply:
“The Touch Of The Master’s Hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A ‘mess of potage,’ a glass of wine;
A game – and he travels on.
He is ‘going’ once, and ‘going’ twice,
He’s ‘going’ and almost ‘gone’.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s Hand.

by Myra B. Welch  (1877-1959)

Why won’t the Mormons leave me alone?

4 Jan

I know you’re asking yourself this. I know you’re wondering why they’re at your door, why they stop you in the street, why they insist on talking to you about their book.

Well, I’m the Mormon missionary who’s knocking on your door. I know you’re hiding behind your couch to avoid me, but I still want to talk to you. Let me tell you why:

I was raised reading the Book of Mormon. I was taught from my early childhood the story of Joseph Smith seeing God and being given the record to translate into English.

As I got older, I began to critically think about this story, and what I realized was that it sounded ridiculous! At that point of indecision, I had to know if my parents were right or crazy. Thanks to their teachings, I knew what to do to find out. I prayed to my Heavenly Father to tell me if it was true, and I began again to read the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is the only book ever published, of which I know, that carries in it a promise that one who reads it prayerfully and asks concerning it in prayer will have revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost a knowledge that it is true.

I asked God if the Book of Mormon was true, and He answered me. I know that it is. I asked God if this was His Church, and He answered me. That’s why I follow it.

Mormons aren’t out to tear you away from your religious beliefs. We aren’t coming to brainwash you or confuse you with circular logic until you’re convinced. (Blech, I would hate trying to do that.) We are simply providing copies of the Book of Mormon and asking you to pray. We do so with confidence that you will be answered.

Being a Mormon means that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ — the same church that he established when he was on the earth, placing it in the charge of his twelve chosen Apostles — which was restored in its true form through a prophet in the latter days. Hence, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I love being Mormon.

And I don’t put carrots in jell-o. That’s gross.

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