Sunday, April 6, 2014

Words of Wisdom -- From My Sister

There is a lot of talk about how bad the society and the world we live in is today. Prophets in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon testified about the wickedness that would exist in our time. If you think about it, it can be real depressing as we look forward to even more wickedness coming into the world. But to be honest, when I look forward, I am so excited. I get to go to an amazing college this fall and live on my own. I get to take the first steps in completing a degree. I get to go the football games and make new friends and enjoy tons of new opportunities. Hopefully I will get to meet an amazing guy and get married in the temple and start a family and I am so beyond excited! Despite being surrounded by all this wickedness, why am I so excited and positive about the future?  These same prophets who testified about the wickedness and evil that would come, also talked about how to protect ourselves and how to face the challenges.  The scriptures teach us where to go and what to do.  They are full of hope and knowledge.

President Marion G. Romney said, “I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity will abound in our homes and lives.”

I want to share with you three key components of our lives here on Earth.

The first is that the great test of life is obedience to God.  Being here on Earth at this very moment is our ultimate test and we get one shot to show the Lord that we can do all that He asks us to do.  We know the path we are supposed to be on. When I was a kid in primary, we had this Sharing Time one Sunday.  I remember putting on a safari hat as we went looking for Spiritual Crocodiles and talked about steering clear of danger that could knock us off the path that leads back home to our Heavenly Father.  As I got older, I learned that this game was based on a talk by Boyd K. Packer.  In his talk, he tells a story of how he had the opportunity to go on a safari while he was in Africa dedicating chapels.  While on this safari, they stopped at a very shallow watering hole.  None of the animals would get too close to the water.  When President Packer asked the guide why, and the guide responded with a simple answer, “crocodiles.”  Now President Packer laughed out loud and asked him again.  He got the same answer “crocodiles.”   He didnt believe it.   Anyone could see that there was nothing in that shallow water.  The guide drove to another spot with a better view of the watering hole.   After a couple of minutes of watching the mud, President Packer suddenly saw the large crocodile.  President Packer felt pretty dumb, but he also recognized an important lesson – it is not always that easy to identify and recognize the dangers in this life.  These spiritual crocodiles, even though they may be hard to notice like the crocodile in the watering hole, can be found all around the world today, whether it be drugs, or alcohol, or bad media, there are crocodiles around every corner.  Thankfully, The Lord has filled our lives with guides to help us remain obedient – parents, leaders, siblings, family, and most importantly, the scriptures.  If we listen and follow these guides, we will continue to grow our testimony and progress on the path back to our Father in Heaven, avoiding the spiritual crocodiles of the world.

The second key component is that the great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.  Or, in my interpretation: to do what the Lord would want us to do and then have faith that everything else will work out according to His plan.  So when I first began applying for colleges, I looked at several applications to places like BYU, A&M, Oklahoma State, Boise State, UCLA, Boston University, and places all around the US.  However, being a typical Mormon, I kind of had my heart set on BYU, and that was actually the only school I submitted an application to.  After submitting, I had to wait an excruciating 3 months to hear back from them.  I had done everything right leading up to that.  I was attending seminary, I was the beehive president, Mia Maids 1st counselor, and Laurels president.  I had a really good score on my ACT and maintained a high GPA.  I was active in student council and service oriented clubs.  I felt like I was doing the will of the Lord, however I couldn't help but feel extremely nervous.  I decided to email my sister to really long and pathetic email about how nervous and scared I was to be denied and then be stuck with no backup plan.  Lexi responded to this email with something very simple.  She said “Rach, if there is any one thing I have learned on my mission, it’s that it is better to be filled with faith than filled with fear.  Turn to the scriptures and your Heavenly Father and have faith in not only him but in yourself. Love you buddy.”  There is nothing that brings me more comfort than reading the scriptures and knowing that I have a Father in Heaven that truly loves me.   President Packer said “The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.”

The final key component is that the great commandment of life is to love the Lord.  In Moroni 10:32 it reads, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”  Lehi taught his family that the most desirable above all things was the love of God.  It is our love for our Father in Heaven that drives us to WANT to read our scriptures and WANT to come to church and WANT to help others and WANT return to live with Him someday.  If we truly love the Lord and love His scriptures and love His gospel, we will be protected from the evil and hardships we face.

The world is a rough place. Believe me, I get to hear all the bad and all the ugly as I walk down the halls every day.  We live in a really wicked world and you get to see so much of that as a missionary.  However if we remember that out greatest test is to be obedient, our greatest task is to do the will of the lord, and our greatest commandment is to love, this awfully wicked world can be turned into a beautiful place full of opportunities to do good and make a difference.  Rely on the scriptures to help you to overcome all obstacles.  Read them, study them, ponder them, and pray.  Let the Lord be your source of light in a dark world. 

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