Sunday, January 11, 2009

Go Ye Therefore

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Go Ye Therefore, by Silvia H. Allred
First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

I loved how Sister Allred tells of how she and her sister loved reading the Book of Mormon after being introduced to it: "Every day after school, we would race home to get to the book first. ... Such was the excitement we felt."

What makes me that excited?

I know that I love coming home from work to see my cute little family, but do I love the scriptures that much? I think I might.

Maryann and I recently started reading the Doctrine and Covenants for our couple scripture study (we just finished the New Testament). I get so antsy to study with her because I love the insight that comes when we read aloud and discuss scriptures. Even now, after studying the scriptures for years and years (but not nearly as long as some have!), I still get new and meaningful inspiration from the same words as before, often verses I never even noticed.

Of her conversion, Sister Allred said: "My life changed forever, and the gospel of Jesus Christ became the compelling force in my life." This month's First Presidency Message from President Eyring (link) reminds of D&C 88:81: "Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor." The responsibility we have to share the compelling force in our lives (the gospel) is a common theme in the restored church, as it should be. I echo her summary of her full-time missionary labors:

My mission had a great impact on my life. I learned to rely more on the Lord, to seek the guidance of the Spirit, and to feel an overwhelming love for God’s children. My knowledge of the scriptures and my understanding of the doctrines increased. So did my desire to be obedient and to keep the commandments with exactness. My testimony of the Savior and His infinite Atonement was strengthened. My missionary experiences became part of who and what I am. Missionary work became my passion. It has impacted my life and that of my family more than anything else.

I love the gospel and I loved my mission, but it's hard for me to imagine the impacts of my service on the lives of others. I know that my life was forever changed by my service—like President Hinckley, I can trace every good thing in my life to the decision I made to serve a mission—but, like Sister Allred observed, "I don't know if missionaries realize the far-reaching impact of their work." It's easy to see impacts in my life, and I hope my efforts blessed others, too.

But what now? What am I doing to share the gospel now? I'm trying to "be a good neighbor and a good friend. Set an example of righteousness and kindness. Let [my] smile radiate love, peace, and happiness. Live a gospel-centered life" but, as a recently-returned missionary noted in his talk in our ward today, these things are planting seeds; the scriptures note that the field is white already to harvest, not brown already to be planted!

Sister Allred continues with the charge to be more specific in our missionary efforts, and includes a nice list to pick and choose ideas from. Luckily I have wonderful children who teach me how to be a good missionary when they tell me that they want to invite their neighborhood friends to come to church with them. My children don't stop at setting an example of a gospel-centered life—they want to give the all-crucial extra push at inviting, challenging, lifting, and loving.

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 18:3).

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