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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pressing On

Not to be a downer or anything, but the year 2009 was a hard one. Between the economy’s struggles, friends and family making choices that I don’t understand, broken hearts, and broken dreams it seems like it was tougher than most years that I can remember.
But this year was also one of the best, with being re-united with friends and family after returning home from a mission, good jobs and bosses, and great classes and professors.
The important thing to remember, in this first blog post (since my goals post was technically in 2009), is that we must press on. In a popular song it proclaims, “To go back to where I was would just be wrong, I’m pressing on.” So must we all be as we move forward in 2010.
Miracles will happen as we do everything that we can to do what we know to be of good report, and to be honest and praiseworthy. As we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, and His ability to do what He says He can do, we will see our prayers answered. Though not always answered in the ways that we expect, or desire, they are answered. Thus, as we exercise an active belief in the Savior, He WILL save us. Could he really be called the Savior if He never saved anyone? But He can only save us if we do all things with “real intent, having faith in [Him].” The prophets before us understood this, as evidenced from a small list of miracles listed by Moroni in Ether 12:

13 Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth. [They were in prison, persecuted for their faith, and they prayed for deliverance]
14 Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. [A few pages before, it looked like they were to be attacked by the same Lamanites.]
15 Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites. [Years of missionary service that resulted in the conversion of a nation.]
16 Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.

Noah built the ark. Moses parted the Red Sea. Daniel survived the Lion’s Den. Joseph Smith kneeled. And we all do what we feel prudent, though as Nephi, not always understanding why we’re doing what we are doing, for “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”
While I was serving my mission, I was teaching a student from China. She did not understand English very well, but she understood enough (along with the help of Church videos in Mandarin) to make basic commitments, and keep them. Then, after a lesson on prayers and blessings, she asked for a blessing, in preparation for her final exams. In the blessing, Bing-Na was promised that as she read the Book of Mormon and prayed in both English and Mandarin, that she would become fluent in the English language. While this wasn’t the original reason for the blessing, I knew that if she did what the Lord asked, that it would come true. It did. She went from single word sentences, to being able to participate in a calling (in the nursery) shortly after I was transferred from the area, and bore her testimony in a fast and testimony meeting.
And I will probably drive everyone crazy with mission stories, but there’s one more that I feel like I should share. Last January, President Dyches challenged each companionship to fast, pray, and work to have two investigators with baptismal dates in the next 3 weeks. I remember thinking to myself, “that will take a miracle! How will we have two investigators to prepare for baptism, when we’re only teaching one person right now? Not only that, but our zone will all need 1-2 more baptismal commitments to reach this goal!” After a stirring meeting on miracles, following counsel from Priesthood leaders, and testimony being born on the reality of miracles, each companionship knew that we could reach our goal. We fasted twice, and prayed as fervently as possible. Elder Carter and I worked, watched, fought, and prayed with all our might and zeal. We extended baptismal commitments to each person that we taught, and nothing happened. Our lone investigator declined our invitation. And then, the Lord intervened. We were able to set two baptismal dates in first lessons with new investigators. We were able to watch faith grow in their hearts and eyes, and while visiting Portland with my parents, I was able to participate in Kathy’s confirmation. What I thought was impossible, was possible through Him.
Let us all work towards seeing these miracles. Let’s pay our tithing, and serve in our callings. Let’s offer encouraging words to those in toil, and offer a helping hand. For what use is faith, if we don’t use it, for as Moroni wrote: “whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” If we believe that they will happen, let’s expect that they will happen.

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