Sunday, November 9, 2014

Homecoming Talk 11/9/2014

Briefly share the parable of Steve and the pushups.
·         If the people in the class want a doughnut, he has to do pushups. If they don’t, because he’s getting tired or whatever reason, he still has to do the pushups. So, he does them whether we accept the doughnut or not.

Please just keep in mind that parable as I go throughout my talk.

I've really learned how much I rely on my Savior, and how much He's played a part in my life. Seriously, I would not be where I am and who I am today without His hand in my life. He's directed my paths so I could have served in Arkansas and teach the people I me. He's done so much for me and has taught me so much. I've come to a real understanding of what it means by "faith precedes miracles". Once I put my trust in the Lord and turn to Him, then that is when miracles can happen, and have happened. As I turn to Him in prayer, and as I read, I feel prompted to do things and go places. Every time, we meet SOMEONE that needs to hear the Gospel, or that knows someone that can benefit from hearing the Word of God. It is truly incredible. And I love how much closer I have come to my Father in Heaven as I serve. It was truly a humbling experience.

Sister Carroll and I discussed “doing our best”. I mentioned how I'm always working my hardest and doing my best, because that's how I was raised, I never half-worked at something, but always gave me. Because of that, I never feel like I didn't do the best that I could that day. But rather, looking at things positively and seeing how much we DID do that day. And then Sister Carroll said, "doing better than our best is doing our best with the Lord's help". From that, I learned that maybe I am doing the best that I can do by myself, but with the Lord, I can do so much more! And that's what I plan on doing. I will exceed my best, because the Lord will fill me up, because he’s already done it!

Even when things get rough, there's still always a sense of hope. I love that about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I love the stress on humility. For a time, I studied the attributes of Christ. I studied, and read, and prayed, and searched myself to know which areas and characteristics I need to work on. The top two areas are 'patience' and 'humility'.

Humility is pretty much coming to a knowledge of the glory of God and knowing of your nothingness. It's being meek, poor in spirit, submissive, and teachable. (Not understand until seeing “teachable”) Rather than boasting of yourself and your goodness, you boast of God (Alma 26:12). I know that I am nothing without Him, but with Him, I am everything.

Going along with humility comes patience. He does all things, in His own timing. For He knows all. In Psalms 46:10, it says"Be still and know that I am God". That's a powerful statement. Knowing that He is God and that I am nothing without Him, I can exercise my trust in Him and fully submit to His will and be patient, for He works all things for my good, but at the time that HE seeth fit.

I know that as we strive to win mastery over ourselves and develop patience, we can become more like our Heavenly Father. He has paved the way for us. We just have to exercise our trust and defeat the natural man. As we do that, the Lord will help us overcome the challenges we face and give us the strength to suffer opposition without anger or frustration. And we remove our doubt, we will come to "see God". When we become humble, we will understand His greatness.

Now, referring back to the parable about Steve…. He already has suffered. He already knows how we feel. He knows our struggles, he knows our weaknesses. We need to turn to Him and accept His suffering in our own lives.

The Lord puts things into our life, more so allows them to happen, so that we can learn and grow. I truly feel that I gained so much knowledge, both spiritually and intellectually, while I was serving. Maybe this was His plan all along. Maybe I never was to serve a full mission. Maybe I wasn't supposed to in the first place. Maybe there are other things in store for me. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I don't know the answers, and I'm okay with that. All I know is that I've grown soooo much closer to my Father in Heaven than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned what the Atonement of Jesus Christ really is. That is plays a part in the pre-existence, in earth life, and in the spirit world. I’ve learned that the Atonement encompasses three parts- the suffering in Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. I always thought it really was only the suffering… But all three play a part in “through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind may be saved”, because we have to be resurrected in order to live with our Father in Heaven again. I learned the simple gospel principles that are so basic, but so essential to our exaltation. I've grown to appreciate the scriptures and to appreciate my leaders. I have increased my testimony ten fold.

The whole process of coming to the realization that I can't go back was truly incredible. The Lord provided a way for me to come to terms with my future, before it was thrown at my face. He allowed me to make the choice and to be okay with it, before I learned that I cannot return. My doctor knew all along that I wouldn't be able to go back, but he was remaining optimistic and would say "if a miracle happened....". However, once I accepted my own fate, and truly submitted to the Lord's will for me, that was when the truth of the matter was revealed.

Sister Carroll showed me a talk by Brad Wilcox titled “His Grace Is Sufficient”. In it, referencing the Atonement, he says, “You have plenty to do, but it is not to pay that debt. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence to be judged. What is left to be determined by our obedience is how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and what degree of glory we plan on receiving.” Not only to we have to let the His grace change us, but we have to allow it to transform us. No unclean thing can dwell with God, but also, no unclean thing will WANT to because they won’t be comfortable. The miracle of the Atonement is not just so we can go home but that we can feel at home there. We need to have that change in us so we no longer are comfortable with sin but comfortable with our Father.

Many people give up on the Church when they feel like they are falling short. But everything in our life requires practice, as Brad Wilcox says, “When learning piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness.”

It's funny, because when I was home, I was dependent upon my earthly parents. I needed them for everything. Especially when I was away at school. I felt so incompetent. I looked to my mama for help for anything, and everything. But then, as I was doing the Lord's work, the one that I aspire to is my Heavenly Father and His perfect son, Jesus Christ. As I do that, and as I constantly remember Him, I learn patience, kindness, gentleness, charity, love, diligence, and my faith increases. As I understood grace, I became more reliable on Him and understood the purpose of the Atonement. It is for me. It is for you. It is for us.

Brad Wilcox says, “God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is enough. It is all we need. Don’t quite. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, as you do, you will feel the enabling power and divine help we call His amazing grace.” 

I know this to be real. Why? Because I’ve done it! I was in a place where I felt so lost, so confused. I was blaming myself, and even slightly blamed God. But! I was reminded of His grace. I was reminded of the power of the Atonement. I was reminded that through Him, we can receive strength. As I've said throughout, as I turned to the Lord, I TRULY felt His power, love, and guidance in all that I’ve done. I know that He has a plan for me. And I know that I only know a little part of that plan. But I need to trust Him and His amazing grace that will save a wretch like me.

As I fully put my trust in Him and remember that "all these things shall give [me] experience", I know that I can get through it. As I humble myself and turn to the Lord and show Him my weaknesses, He will make me strong. He will help me through and provide me with that comfort that I need throughout my life. He will help me know that these are His plans and I need to forsake myself and give it all to Him. As I do that, I know I will get through this and that all things will be for my good. I am already learning that I am nothing. He can give, and He can take away just as easily. But, I know that as I fully submit to His will all things will work out.

God is real. He is mindful of everyone. And He lives. I know He lives. I have felt Him in my life. I have experienced it. I spoke His words. I know they weren't mine. I know he directs His children today. I know that plans fall through so that His plans can happen. I know miracles happen AFTER the trials of our faith. I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that because of that, He sent His Son so that I can return to Him. I know that He walked this earth. I know that it is only through Him that I will live. I know that my Redeemer lives. I say these things in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.