The Greatest of Endeavors

She was more ready for the gospel than I was to teach it. I have learned that is Heavenly Father’s way to lead us to reach higher than we could alone. I was in my second area on my mission. Hirosaki, Japan. A smaller branch of 45 active and faithful members. We met her through a member, and she became one of my closest friends. She just wanted to hear about christian religions, but from the very first words we spoke to her the Holy Ghost testified they were true. She never doubted, and she never hesitated to faithfully follow the commitments we asked of her. She gained her testimony through the Spirit, and I was blessed with the opportunity of baptizing her only a few weeks later.

Following the baptism I had a chance to sit and speak with her about the ordinance and covenant she just made. I had only been in Japan for 6 months, and my Japanese showed it, but she patiently and humbly listened to every word I spoke. There was a love that she had for me, that become SO strong. It was a respect and reverence that she saw and expected of me, that I didn’t even consider of myself.

I have asked myself, “What was that for? Why did the Lord give me that blessed chance? What is the Lord’s will in that?” It wasn’t until this year, almost 4 years later, that I have come to understand part of why it all happened. He wanted me to grow. He wanted me to change. And He knew I wasn’t going to get there on my own. So he let a woman, who had more faith and worthiness than I had ever known personally, come into my life and demand the best of me. Even better than my best, so that I could extend my calling and become the stronger man for the Lord and for my life.

I now know that that is typically the way the Lord works. He gives us people, and demands, and situations that require us to become something that we are not. Something stronger and more worthy of the blessings of the Spirit that we could not possess before then. And with it comes expectations to live up to that standard. What is the pearl cast before swine worth? Still a pearl of great price, though useless if not valued and used as it should be.

So I have become something more again. I have taken the greatest of endeavors to learn to become more. And that is what life is about. It is for stretching forward more than I am able, more than I can possibly do alone. And as long as I keep stretching forward when the Lord puts another pearl before me then I will end up reaching my potential within the Kingdom of God. I have the power to reach my potential, it only lies within my ability to seek the Lord and do His will. Keep true to the path and you will not fall off, you cannot fall off. I have learned that, and I want others to learn that. So I will try and keep writing on this blog, and inviting others to ponder their own testimony a little more. Hopefully you have felt your testimony as I have written. Hopefully you will decide today is the day you need to reach out and pick up the pearl the Lord has laid before you. Perhaps you can find its value in your life.

That is my prayer for you, my readers, this day. I share that in the name of Jesus Christ.

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Divine Procrastinations

お帰りなさい! Welp, I have made it through my first week of my last Japanese class! The class is a lot of fun, actually! We are reading “Kozo no Kami” (“The Ant God”?) and some other short stories like “Torokko” (“Mining Truck”?).. I’m not sure exactly how you would translate either of those.. guess I still have to work on my Japanese skills .. 🙂 It will be fun, though! It honestly feels like I am stretching and working out a muscle that I have neglected for a while now, so it’s good to get back into the language. I have my first test coming up soon though, so we will see how it all goes! Luckily, I don’t have to write kanji (漢字) but instead just have to translate and do some kanji readings. That’s quite the relief since kanji characters are my weak point, and writing is all the more difficult.

So I have a rant today that I’d love to share! I’m going to try and be short since I want sleep.. I have quite the week ahead, full of work, class, dates, and comedy.

Divine Procrastinations. At church today we spoke about what we really think is important in life, what we are doing to achieve those things, and what keeps us from actually doing them. I like to take these questions seriously and so I thought about what really held me back from being/doing the spiritual things I know are most important to me. I feel that the most important thing in life is serving the Lord and overcoming the temptations that keep me from not wanting to serve Him. D&C 4:2 “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

The weakness that hits is that I rationalize, along with EVERYBODY else, why today is not the day to work my hardest at becoming Christ-like. See, when I was a missionary I knew I had 2 years to work my hardest to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I knew that the stronger and more developed my Christ-like attributes were then the better the tool I would be for the Lord. When I wanted to be more patient and humble, then I had to be patient and humble AS SOON AS POSSIBLE so that I could be a benefit to the Lord. I worked on it hard for weeks at a time! Now that I’m home from my mission when I think, “Oh, I should work on patience..” I then think, “Meh.. I’m sure I’ll learn it before I die.. or, before I have a family. I’m fine for now..” I have no desire to work my hardest to serve God “with all [my] heart, might, mind and strength..” unless I know it is necessary for me. If I knew I was going to die in 2 years I know I would be working A LOT harder on my spiritual self than I am now.

And that’s what Divine Procrastinations are; Divine not because they are given by God, but because they are procrastinations given with a divine perspective in mind. God wants us to repent TODAY. And He wants us GOOD and BETTER than ever before! He wants the best for us because He loves us SO much! We are only limiting ourselves by our own stupid lack of discipline! I hate my lack of discipline and lack of motivation! That’s the whole point! To overcome those weaknesses of the flesh and to consciously decide, That’s it! I am going to work at my sins! I am going to work at my shortcomings and work out my salvation, “with fear before God..” (Alma 34:37) knowing that if I DON’T then YES I will be eternally ruined!

So NO, I don’t want to procrastinate my salvation! I DON’T want to procrastinate my repentance! I’m here to SERVE the Lord! I’m here to be HIS servant to those around me! Listen to what Nephi says about his own sins at first, and then the language he has upon committing his heart to this change; 2 Ne. 4:17 “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.” Have you ever heard such personal pains in the scriptures? The only other is Christ, it seems. Then Nephi lists all the miracles and blessings that God has given him through his life and culminates in his famous Psalm of Nephi in verse 28, “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.”

Alma 34:33, “…do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then commeth the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”

Let us all go forward with faith and strength to fight off the temptations that beset us, and to become the pure testimony of Christ in word, action and thought. As we do we will truly work out our own salvation.


Taking It Back to Japan

 

We taught a kid english class and these were some of the people who came.

We taught a kid english class and these were some of the people who came.

I decided today that I wanted to share a journal entry from my last month as a missionary in Japan. I was reading through this journal the other day and thought this would be uplifting to share.

 

Sunday, July 15, 2007 – Yamagata-shi, Yamagata-ken

“Today was a weak day. It started out with Tanaka San calling and saying he couldn’t go to church. Which instantly means his baptism is off for July 28th. So that’s a bummer. Then all day it rained since a typhoon is hitting south Japan and so that makes work slower.  But, nonetheless church was great. It’s always uplifting and fun to play with the primary kids. They drew us pictures today! I also got some food presents for my birthday tomorrow, so that’s cool too!

There was a cool thing that happened today too. Yesterday as we walked to English Class we were contacting people. Brother Sonehara pulled up in his car and offered a ride but we said we were proselyting on the way up to class and we would be fine. Then today in church we were learning from President Kimball’s teachings about not putting other gods before Heavenly Father. I felt like I should mention that sometimes we put ourselves as a “higher God” when we decide to rest instead of fulfill our callings in the chuch. My most important possession is my calling as a missionary and my name tag, and a missionary’s biggest temptation is to rest instead of work.

The members also asked and so I explained the best way to defeat that temptation is to decide beforehand that when it’s time to do your calling you will just do it. The prompting to do right sometimes only comes once so we must decide, or have already chosen by then to do our calling. Well, all this was said in class and I didn’t think anything of it.

After church I ran into Brother Sonehara again and he asked if he could say what he was feeling. He explained again how we declined his offer for a ride yesterday and how he figured we would think it lucky to get a ride up to the church. He then reviewed how I said my name tag and calling are most important, along with how we must put God first over everything else. He told me he was deeply impressed with my words and also my actions showing  my words. He said it really got to him and he knows he needs to do better in his own calling. He again thanked me many times for my help and then left. That’s wonderful to see the members realize their duty and responsibilities in the church. I think that chance to speak in class, though only a handful of brethren, was one of the reasons I was called to Yamagata for my final two transfers in Japan.”

I really like that memory. It brings back fond feelings of hope and faith that the members will do what is right, remember their calling, and move the Lord’s work forward. Alma shares a story about the strength of members doing their duty in Alma 4:1-5. I’ll share a section of it, “3. And so great were their afflictions that every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their wickedness and their abominations; therefore they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty. 4. And they began to establish the church more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church of God […] there were about three thousand five hundred souls that united themselves to the church of God and were baptized.” All of them member referrals!

We all have a duty as followers of Christ to humbly move the Lord’s work forward and be missionaries to our neighbors and friends. Then we can all rejoice as the Lord does when He says, “And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” (Matt. 18:13). For that reason, to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the reason why I started this blog. And I hope it isn’t in vain. I’m always open to reflections from other people, and would love to hear any comments you have to share.