Catch the Wave
Last week, we watched the Missionary Broadcast. The enthusiasm for the progression of the work was evident in the speakers and the emphasis on what members can do to help further the work along. That Sunday we also had stake conference where the mission president over our area came and spoke to us. He also bubbled with enthusiasm for spreading the gospel and missionary work.
Later that week, we had the two sets of sisters in our area over for dinner, on two different evenings. Two of the four sister missionaries recently left the MTC to enter the mission field. They are both very excited about the work.
Now for my confessions. I usually struggle with missionary work. I feel like I share and share and share the gospel or aspects of it in my life. I am what you would call a ‘seed flinger’. I fling seeds of the gospel truth far and wide, but I rarely am around to see if any grow or even take root. Since I tend to want to see the growth in order to measure how well I have done, I often feel like I am not doing my part or doing it well enough because, other than the children in my family, I never seem to be able to see the fruit of my efforts. (I really have to get over that!)
As I spoke with one of the sister missionaries, I expressed my frustrations and I said, here is the issue and why I think we are struggling with the work. She validated me and said that is exactly what Preach My Gospel says. Basically, the idea is that if you are not applying the Atonement in your life so that you have felt the blessings of repentance and are feeling them, you do not have an essential part necessary for sharing the doctrines of the gospel because you are not experiencing them in your own life. Read the story of Enos. (It is really short and it will only take you about 5 minutes, even if you read slowly!) The sequence of his story is that he thinks deeply on the words of his father (doctrines of the gospel). They sink into his heart (Enos applies the principles). He recognizes that he needs to change and repent (more application). He prays to be forgiven (still application). After significant spiritual and emotional effort (he prays all day and all night). He receives forgiveness for his sins (revelation). And after he has this amazing experience where he knows his life is right before God, then he seeks and prays for the welfare of his brothers and he wants all men (and women) to know and feel that they can be clean before God too (he wants to share it). Feeling repentant and participating in the process properly is essential in testifying of the redeeming power of our Savior and bringing people to Christ. When we have done that, we will also have a great love for others and our fellow men and we will want them to have that experience too. (It goes without saying that this is a life-time effort, not a one time experience.) As we continue to change and apply the Atonement, our love and willingness to serve will grow.
I have been a little hesitant to believe this wave of enthusiasm for the gospel can happen here. I loved the stories shared by the ward mission leader in the missionary broadcast. I have read many articles in the church magazines sharing the stories of the growth of the gospel in their wards and areas of the world. I felt the Spirit testify of the truths of the stories they were sharing. But I couldn’t see it happening. I struggled with these personal thoughts for a couple of weeks, but really didn’t say anything to anyone, other than my discussion with the sister missionary.
Then two days ago, for my scripture study, I was directed to Alma 5. Here, Alma the Younger, is trying to persuade the people to repentance. He reminds them of being subjects of King Noah and how the believers were delivered out of the hands of this wicked king. Then they were in bondage to the Lamanites and once again, were not free. They were heavily taxed. But in time, the Lord delivers them out of this situation as well. Alma pleads for the people to remember how good God has been to them by delivering them and their families from these situations:
Then he calls them all to repentance and asks them to change their lives and their hearts.
As I pondered about these verses, I realized, Alma the Elder was the only priest who listened to the prophet Abinadi. Abinadi’s words, changed his heart. Alma then taught Abinadi’s words to any who would listen. He ends up baptizing hundreds in the waters of Mormon. Alma, through his teaching and the Spirit of the doctrines he taught, changes the hearts of these people. It is their children and maybe some of them to whom Alma the Younger is speaking. I realized I should not underestimate the power of the Spirit and the gospel to change the hearts of the people, any people. I too, should , Catch the Wave, as Elder Nelson suggested this last General Conference.
Dear brothers and sisters, I add my voice to that of President Thomas S. Monson and others in praising those who have responded to a prophet’s call for more worthy missionaries. Now an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm for missionary work is sweeping the entire earth. Since President Monson’s historic announcement last October, thousands of elders, sisters, and couples have been called, and many more are preparing.1 Now we get questions like “What are you going to do with all these missionaries?” The answer is simple. They will do what missionaries have always done. They will preach the gospel! They will bless the children of Almighty God!….