We had the wonderful opportunity and blessing of seeing a young man named Chris' baptism on Saturday; it was an amazing day for everyone involved. As we watched him dress in his white jumpsuit and, eventually, go under the water, I pondered on the quiet beauty of these moments. Before someone enters into the waters of baptism, some might feel that they need to "know" everything to be eligible. People get too caught up in thinking that "conversion" is a destination; a point they will reach when they finally know everything.
Wrong! If that were true, there would not be a single member of this church! I certainly don't know everything about our God's plan for us, and all the minutia of the scriptures and commandments we are given. I don't know everything about church history, repentance, or the Atonement. I don't even know everything about programming VCR's. What I don't know could (and probably does) fill the library of congress. What I do know is that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and you very dearly, and we have a Savior who died so that we could return to Him.
Conversion isn't about how much you know, it's about what you know, and acting on it. I don't expect I'll ever attain the title of "fully converted" in my life, and neither will you. Conversion is a road that we must all traverse, through night and day, sun and rain, until, finally, we meet our Savior waiting for us at the end. If we endure this road, believing and trusting that we will reach the end, we will find ourselves at the last day altogether with our Savior, and all our brothers and sisters who walked the road with us. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain."
-1 Corinthians 9: 24
As Northern California has been hammered by inclement weather, I've had the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes: singing in the rain.
Our car is temporarily out of commission, which means we have little choice but to brave the cold, windy, rainy streets of Petaluma as we seek to do the Lord's work. Whenever it's particularly dark, cold, or difficult as we brave the elements, I've found that singing is a wonderful antidote. Next time you are riding your bike in the rain (which, unless you're a missionary, is a peculiar thing to be doing by the way), just start singing "There is sunshine in my soul today!", and just try to keep a smile off your face.
It never fails! I always feel uplifted, comforted, and occasionally, even warm. The Lord loves music. He's even told us so.
"For my soul adelighteth in the bsong of the cheart; yea, the dsong of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." -D&C 25:12
So next time you're cold and wet, just sing a little song. The Lord will hear you.
This week, we had several opportunities to bear witness of the importance and power of prayer. Whenever we teach this, I reflect on my own experiences with praying that have shaped my testimony. I'd like to share one of these with you today; I call it: "Of Prayer and 4-Wheeling".
I was 16 years old, and we were camping up beautiful Logan canyon (yes, that is Logan canyon). My dad had recently invested in a couple old used 4-wheelers, and since I'm the only boy in my family, between two sisters, I was the only candidate as his 4-wheeling buddy. (Note: 4-wheelers are also commonly known as ATV's, this is what they look like:)
So we were sitting in camp, mid-afternoon or so, and my dad says, "Hey, wanna go riding up the canyon?" I was like, "Sure." And so our adventure began.
First, I would like to impress upon you at this point that we are already a pretty good distance up this canyon. A half hour from the city, at least. We take some dirt roads up a side canyon in my dad's truck, and eventually we come to a parking lot at the mouth of a trailhead. We unload the 4-wheelers, and we head up the canyon. Now, refer back up to the picture of Logan canyon: it looked much like that, but this canyon was far narrower, between two steep mountain faces. We start riding, and I'm following my dad. We finally come out the other end of the canyon about 20 minutes later or so, and we are IN the mountains. High wilderness.
We continue to ride upward for an hour or so, and then we realize it's coming on late afternoon, and we have a way to get back home! So we stop, enjoy the scenery for a moment, and work our way back down the mountain. We get to the mouth of that canyon I mentioned earlier, which is the last leg back to the parking lot. Dad decides to stop and chop some firewood off some dead trees off the road, we load it up, and get back on the ATV's. Dad turns his on, and takes off, leaving dust swirling the cooling mountain air.
At this point, I need to fill you in on a couple things:
A) I had only ridden a 4-wheeler a couple times before.
B) I have little to no mechanical experience.
I get on my 4-wheeler and turn the key.
It doesn't start.
I keep turning. Nothing is happening. I decide that dad, surely, will notice my absence, and I would see him round that bend of trees up ahead, coming to save the day. He didn't come. It was getting dark. I did everything the instructions said to start your struggling ATV. Nothing!
And then a voice whispered in my head, "Say a prayer."
I thought, "What if it doesn't work?? I've done everything I can! What if I don't get an answer?"
The voice was persistant, so I thought "what the heck", and got down on my knees in the middle of this dirt road.
I finished, and got back on my 4-wheeler.
I stared at the key. I reached out for the key. I held my breath...and turned the key.
And nothing happened.
I was like, "NO!" In my frustration, I kicked the side, shifted up and down, and turned it again.
It turned on.
My shout of elation still echoing down the canyon walls, I took off like a spider monkey. I admit, I was probably driving a little recklessly in my haste to get out of these forboding mountain walls and return to my dad. I had been driving for what seemed like a short time when I started to recognize my surroundings, and realize I was almost out. I sped up. As I was coming up on a bend, I received a prompting like I had never received before. It said,
"GET OFF THE ROAD, NOW."
I promptly did so, almost without thinking. Not a second after, a huge truck came barreling around the corner, chock full of semi-sober college students, going at least twice as fast as I had been.
In shock, I looked to the Heavens, and thanked my Father. He had saved me, not once, but twice, in the span of 15 minutes. I gingerly continued out on the road, and safely returned to my dad (who, by the way, had been sitting in the parking lot waiting for me. Yeah, helpful. :P)
I testify to you that Prayer Is Real. No matter the situation, God hears us, loves us, and answers our prayers. Be it getting a 4-wheeler to start, or for a loved one's health to return, or even pass a final, I know that our Savior is always listening.
The other day we had the opportunity to witness a breathtaking vista from the hill east of Petaluma. As the sun slowly succumbed to night, we were absolutely awed by the beauty and majesty of the view. We had to stop the car for a second, and enjoy the fleeting moment in the cool night air.
I absolutely believe few things bring us closer to God than nature. A warm summer breeze through the trees, cool clear creek water trickling over your feet, even the swirling dust of a dirt road on a sunny day, all these invigorate the soul and seem to remind us that there is a Creator of this marvelous Creation.
Before the sun completely disappeared and we resumed our journey, I remembered the words of Alma the Younger to Korihor:
"...All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."
Alright, so I only have about eight or so minutes left before my time on this library computer is up, but I wanted to seize the opportunity to write on the blog before the day ends! This will be a good opportunity to "simplify and intensify" I suppose.
The last two days have been just meetings. My companion and I have been split apart and out of our area for the majority of our waking hours these days. As we were driving back to Petaluma, Elder Millard exclaimed, "I miss our area!! I'm trunkie for Petaluma!!"
I realized his feelings mirrored mine; I missed our area! I missed our people, I missed working there. Two days, not even full days, away from preaching our Savior's gospel, and we were homesick for Petaluma.
I reflected once more on the promise in the beginning of Preach My Gospel, "More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children."
That promise is true! I testify that nothing brings more lasting happiness and peace than to do the Lord's work among His children. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.