11. 22. 15
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Becoming a Disciple through gratitude.
Buenas Días mi hermanos y hermanas.
Thank you all for being here this morning. It’s so fun to look out into your sweet faces & recall memories made with you & the influence each of you has had in my life. I appreciate your examples of kindness & genuine goodness as I’ve grown up, changed, & become more of the person I’d like to be.
You know, I thought long and hard about what I would share today that could adequately express my love of the gospel or the journey I took to stand before you 10 days before I head to Chile for 18 months, & I settled on one term that just about sums it up: “Thanksgiving”.
This is a special time of year. Around the holidays we often find ourselves gathered with family, feeling thankful for our friends, health, opportunities, & even the weather. & that is wonderful & so needed in this world we live in, but it’s the sometimes overlooked portion of gratitude I’d like to focus on today; the action part; the part that helps us to change, be better, & ultimately to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. .
But before I get to that I’d like to tell you a story.
Not too long ago there was a girl trying to make some important life decisions. She thought she knew what she wanted, & what Heavenly Father wanted. But on her path she hit a few bumps, tripped over delays, and fell into confusion. Satan had quite the hold on her as she tossed and turned between the troubles of life and the troubles of her soul.
“Life is funny that way, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, just when you begin to plan, and feel like you know what direction you’re heading in, the paths mix, the signs change, the wind blows the other way. North is suddenly South, and East is West and you’re LOST.” -Unknown
Just as an 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit Chile this year, an 8.3 “soulshake” hit me. & just as those people have to work to repair the damage done to their homes, I had to work to understand my soul & where the Lord would have me be.
I testify that the adversary is real. The struggle is real, but so is God & He hears us when we pray.
It requires real effort at times to see the positive in a situation; to look past any heartache you feel and focus on the sunshine of life. I struggled with this during the year. At times I was so focused and weighed down with what was going wrong and the confusion I felt, that I forgot to look for the tender mercies that, looking back were always there. But luckily I experienced a change.
Cultivating the often mentioned “attitude of gratitude” can be difficult at first, but we have much to be grateful for and the habitual positive outlook will come. As we read the scriptures and say sincere prayers this change of heart will come, beginning with an added measure of thanks; other virtues to surely follow. I had forgotten the importance of expressing gratitude in my time of struggle, making it harder for me to see the Lord’s hand in my life. This year these words by Thomas S Monson became very dear to me. – “Of this be sure, you do not find the happy life; you make it.” Gratitude is about making it; or recognizing what we have been given. It is the quality of feeling or being thankful; or expressing gratitude to someone. We’ve been told to give thanks, especially during this season, so let me give you an example of how this could be done.
Henry B Eyring taught us about this concept of making the happy life, recognizing the hand of the Lord, and doing our best to show that thanks.
“When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.
He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.
He went on to say:
My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. You remember that song we sometimes sing: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”2“close quote.
President Eyring’s example is key as we see his efforts to recognize the hand of the Lord and show thanks for the little things by pausing at the end of each day to write them down.
A story from the scriptures that teaches us to appreciate the little things is Naaman. Naaman was a great man, a mighty man with wealth and prestige. But, Naaman developed leprosy & went to Elisha the prophet to be healed.
We read in 2 Kings 5:9-14
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Like the servant said to Naaman, had it been a big thing he would have done it straightway; just as we are quick to recognize blessings when they are poured out upon us, but how quick are we to notice and give thanks for the small things, the ones that truly show the Father is in the details of our lives.
Recognizing these blessings is key in cultivating a positive attitude & in beginning to change, but it is when we focus on blessing others that we start to become..
In the book of Acts, chapter 20, we read: “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Let me explain. To me, gratitude is a verb, an action word; it’s all about expressing the thanks you feel. Real gratitude causes us to do something. Whether that’s verbally giving thanks for something or feeling grateful and showing it through action or giving.
It’s realizing what you have been gifted and giving back. As President Monson said, “Effort is required, but it is effort you will never ever regret.” close quote. It takes effort to show gratitude & effort to become like our dear Savior.
This is illustrated beautifully in a hymn I love. “Because I have been given much I too must give. Because of thy great bounty Lord each day I live. I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see who has the need of help from me.”
I think this is what makes gratitude so interesting, even what makes it a sought after virtue. The feelings caused by appreciation motivate us to move, act, and reciprocate the kindness & mercy shown to us. Gratitude is a precursor to charity, & charity, the pure love of Christ, is the essence of discipleship.
In Luke chapter 17 we read the account of the ten lepers: 12 – 19
From this we see that the gratitude felt by this man caused Him to turn, seek out Jesus, & praise Him. In return He was not only ridden of his ailment, but also of his sins, for Christ made him whole. This faithful man was filled with thanks enough to turn him to discipleship; which is to be humble, teachable, & ultimately a follower of the Master. His gratitude changed his heart.
When we fill our lives with heartfelt appreciation for all we are blessed with, we too can experience this mighty change of heart spoken about in the scriptures. It all starts with looking for the gifts and tender mercies we so often miss; providing a mindset for other virtues & Christ-like attributes to bloom.
& so we see that gratitude is essential in discipleship.
It is a profound thought that our choice of gratitude, for it is a choice… shown through service to others, could be our gateway to really knowing & becoming like Him.
We are to invite others to come unto Christ by doing as He would do. If He were here I believe we would catch Him serving others & so that is what we should do.
As we acknowledge His character and example we are reminded of what makes Him someone we worship. He is the Only Begotten of the Father, yes; The King of Kings & Lord of Lords. But to me, what makes Him admirable and even approachable are His titles of Prince of Peace, Advocate, Savior, Brother, & Friend. His character is one that consists of selfless appetites. He is one truly good and without guile & that is easy to see as we look at the miracles He preformed.
I feel this way about the gospel.. I’ve always wanted to serve a mission but a few months ago I asked myself why that was & a line from the song I just shared came to mind… “I cannot see another’s lack & I not share.”
It came to me that I cannot know what I know & feel what I feel without wanting everyone else to have it too. In other words, “Because I have been blessed by thy great love dear Lord, I’ll share thy love again according to thy word. I shall give love to those in need, I’ll show that love by word and deed. Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.”
Disciple: a pupil or learner; a follower of Jesus Christ. I think that’s what a missionary is meant to be. We are to humble ourselves, forsake all, and follow Him, consecrating ourselves to the work of inviting others to do the same.
If we are to be true disciples of the Lord we are to acknowledge His hand in all things.
I feel so blessed to be called to serve. I’ve wanted this for a very long time & I already have so much love the the Chilean people.
These past three months I’ve had some realizations. One of those being that I’ll be gone for 18 months. A lot can happen in a year and a half. People change, kids grow up, & life happens. Most everything will be different in some way when I return & sometimes I don’t think I’m ready for that. During my summer away from home my eyes were opened to the painful truth that despite my best efforts time does not stop while you are away. People move away, classmates get married, & dear friends die. Your friends will still go on that camping trip & the snow cone shack will open & close without your visit. But more importantly, you aren’t around on the days that your loved ones need you most.
I won’t be there to cut the singed parts of Devon’s hair off after he gets too close when lighting the burner, & I won’t be there to wash dishes with mom after we’ve had company all weekend. I won’t be there to hear dad’s stories or help grandpa at the farm. I won’t be around to make a craft with Heather after a long day or take a friend for ice cream when life gets rough. I will miss Christmas, Easter, & countless cookouts & camping trips. I will not be here to comfort my friends during difficult times & they will not be there to comfort me. No one will play with my hair or slice strawberries for my yogurt.
When you think about it, I will miss a lot. It was likely I would miss a wedding & that terrified me because it opened my mind to all that I could & likely will miss out on. & when you focus on that it’s almost enough to make you stay home. But God would not have me focus on such a short period of my life, dwelling on things that likely do not hold eternal consequence; forgetting the attitude of gratitude we just discussed.
& if I’ve learned one thing in my 19 years it’s that we can trust God. & we should trust Him, because He is there. He listens & He is always, always good.
& so I’ve been thinking about the opportunities that a mission opens for me & for someone in Chile & it’s more than enough to possess me to board a plane & not look back for 18 months.
I’m trusting Him with my family for a year and a half. With my happiness when He says He will bless me with more joy than I have ever yet known. & I trust that He would not have told me this is right if it was not.
I testify of the Goodness of God in all things & of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It truly is good news, life changing news.
In John: 8:32 it reads: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
This is how I feel about the gospel, for I have been set free through the enduring Atonement of Jesus Christ & the gift of repentance, knowing I can be cleansed each time I make a mistake. I am given purpose and understanding through Heavenly Father’s eternal plan & answers to my prayers, & I have been taught so much through the Holy Ghost.
In short, I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints contains the whole truth & that the Restored Gospel is on the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father & His Son in the Sacred Grove & that he is the Prophet of the Restoration, with Thomas S Monson leading us in righteousness today.
I know the Book of Mormon is true & that because it witnesses of Jesus Christ we will come to know Him by making its pages a part of our lives. I know Jesus Christ was chosen by the Father to play a special role in the lives of all His children. He volunteered to suffer & take our sins upon Him without any payment or return, & did so willingly & full of love for each of us, for we owed a debt we could never pay.
He died for all of us, for you, for me, & every human being, friend & stranger. Then He rose from the grave triumphant, overcoming death. He is the Savior and Redeemer of my soul, as He is yours.
& I know this: If we neglect to choose Him, there is nothing we could ever do or say that would make up for that.
Because it is through Him that we are saved.
The gospel is true, so what else really matters?
I testify of the goodness of God in all things & of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let our lives be full of both thanks & giving, after the one who showed us how.
En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.