Saturday, October 25, 2008

Acts 9

Saul was without sight for three days after he beheld the Lord in a vision (see Acts 9). During this time he did not eat or drink. After Ananias came and restored his sight to him, Saul "received meat" and was strengthened.

Maybe the mention of people eating after such spiritual experiences is just to remind us that we need to look after the physical needs as well as the spiritual. We cannot always be feeding one and starving the other. We have to balance them both.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Favorite Thing About A Mission

Whenever anyone asked me (either during my mission or since) what my favorite part about being a missionary was, I always said it was having a companion. This generally surprised people, but it's true.

I loved having someone there to talk to all the time. I loved having someone there to always try to help me and serve me, and I loved having someone there to always try to help and serve. I loved that we both struggled and rejoiced together. I loved having someone to hug every night before bed and to say goodnight to, like I used to do when I shared a room with my sister.

I had really great companions. I never got sick of having a companion. I never felt like I didn't get enough alone time. I never felt like I wanted to "get away" because I needed space*.

Now I'm off a mission and companionless and back to my old cantankerous self, but that was my favorite part of being a missionary (or at least, one of my favorite parts).

*With one notable exception one day, but I was switching medications and it was in the MTC, and things get a little touchy in the MTC because you're still trying to figure out what you're supposed to be doing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Note: There are exceptions to everything I say, and I believe that every person and situation is different.

I once had a remarkable friend who, during a talk, mentioned a certain line in her Patriarchal blessing, which indicated that many of the trials in her life would actually be blessings in disguise.

The more I think about blessings, the more I realize they are much like challenges, in that they are specific and individual to each person. We all hear about how everyone has their own set of problems in this life, but we rarely think the same way of blessings, and this is dangerous. There is no magic formula to explain why certain people receive certain blessings in this life, just as there is no magic formula to determine why certain people receive certain trials.

Blessings come from God. Beyond that, I cannot say what causes them: while we are promised blessings for certain actions, we are not promised specific blessings for specific actions. For example, I could not say that because I never missed a day of church in my life, all my kids would always be faithful in the gospel. Or, if I've always done my visiting teaching, there is no guarantee that I will have a visiting teacher who regularly teaches me.

I can truthfully say that I've always tried to be faithful, and I've always tried to keep the commandments. I can also truthfully say that I've always had my basic needs met. Those two are somehow tied together, but it is impossible to define how.

Temporal blessings cannot be used as an indication of one's spirituality or standing before God either, just as trials cannot be used to judge one's spirituality. This is, in fact, because they are temporal. Anything temporal cannot measure or quantify one's relationship to God.

In the end, I must conclude that it is good to recognize all good things as from God. It is good to thank Him for our blessings. It is good to remember that no one is promised certain blessings if they do certain things. It is good to remember that blessings, like challenges, are given to each of us individually.

It's also good to remember that sometimes, our greatest blessings and our greatest challenges are actually the same thing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Way

When Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge began his talk on Saturday afternoon, my mind started to hurt from trying to make sense of so many short powerful statements. However, the further in he got, the easier it was for me to listen. Now, as I read his talk over again, I find that I like it immensely, and I like it better in print than I do in voice.

You can read the full text to Elder Corbridge's talk "The Way" here, but I'll include the parts that spoke to me the most:

"There is only one way to happiness and fulfillment. He is the Way. Every other way, any other way, whatever other way, is foolishness."

"Only God can bless us. Only He can ... give us strength to bear up the burdens of life. Only He can give us power, knowledge, peace, and joy. Only He can ... heal us. Only He can change us and forge a godly soul."

"Every good thing depends on getting and keeping the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives. Everything depends on that."

"One of the most popular and attractive philosophies of men is to live life your own way, do your own thing, be yourself, don’t let others tell you what to do. But the Lord said, 'I am the way.' He said, 'Follow me.' He said, 'What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.'

"Don’t think you can’t. We might think we can’t really follow Him because the standard of His life is so astonishingly high as to seem unreachable. We might think it is too hard, too high, too much, beyond our capacity, at least for now. Don’t ever believe that. While the standard of the Lord is the highest, don’t ever think it is only reachable by a select few who are most able...

"...this is not a human endeavor. It is, rather, the work of God...

"...while the Lord’s invitation to follow Him is the highest of all, it is also achievable by everyone, not because we are able, but because He is, and because He can make us able too."

"The Lord’s way is not hard. Life is hard, not the gospel."

"Life is hard, but life is simple. Get on the path and never, ever give up. You never give up. You just keep on going. You don’t quit, and you will make it."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Voice By Which Ye Shall Be Called

Sometimes I get random words or phrases stuck in my head, and the other night it happened to be, "How knoweth a man..." I couldn't remember the rest, but I knew it was a scripture. Then yesterday I remembered that it says, "How knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?"

Today I looked up the scripture, which is Mosiah 5: 13:

For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

I was sitting there pondering what in my life had caused this scripture to bubble into my consciousness, when I read the previous verse, verse 12:

I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

That verse reminded me of a moment I had in the MTC, which I am about to relate to you.

I was in one of the large group meetings, and was, well, falling asleep. Yes, I sometimes fell asleep in the MTC when I wasn't supposed to. I think this is normal if you're used to going to bed at 2am and then suddenly try to switch to 10:30pm. But that is beside the point. I was falling asleep, when my district leader (who was sitting a few rows behind me) took the microphone to make a comment.

When I heard Elder S.'s voice, I immediately sat up and became alert. I wondered why his voice had such an impact on me, then realized that it was because I knew his voice, and I knew him, and I wanted to know what he had to say.

This is why I need to be familiar with the Savior and His voice. For me, I can't say that I've ever heard the Savior literally speak from His own mouth, but I have heard Him speak through prophets, through the scriptures, through other people, and through the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

If I'm familiar with His voice, and know Him, and want to hear what He has to say, I'm going to be more likely to wake up and listen when He speaks. I could also try going to bed earlier, but I don't think that'd work quite as well. :o)