"...Behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith to make them mighty..."
This week has been a delightful one full of good experiences. During the middle of the week I got a phone call from someone and I couldn't tell who it was, after an awkward little conversation the person let me know that it was a member from Centerton where I had served... He let me know that they were coming down to Fayetteville the following day and wanted to take us out to lunch. It was awesome, we had some good BBQ sandwiches and chatted and it was just wonderful. We also have two baptisms this Saturday so we are praying that things will work out. This week I have spent a lot of time pondering deeply about my mission thus far and where I am right now spiritually/characteristically. As I was doing so I decided to set some goals and rededicate myself to the work/to becoming a better person/to continually improving and I learned some valuable lessons that perhaps might be of benefit to you reading this.
Salvation/Happiness/Peace lies in doing/living the simple doctrines of the Gospel
Surprisingly enough, the "Seminary Answers" are very true and if followed will assure our personal progression and give us many rich blessings. Those being:
Reading our scriptures daily
Praying daily (morning and night at the least)
Going to Church
Keeping the Commandments
Magnifying our callingsIf we truly live those points with the right spirit (with a --->"perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men") we will never stray away or go inactive (whether spiritually or literally with church attendance).
We will be truly converted.
"Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away."
As soon as we neglect one of those points or become lazy or too busy for them we begin to quickly forget the spiritual experiences we had, the spirit we felt while doing them, why we were doing them, etc. It will become a chore to us. Knowing the deep doctrine is fun and exciting but it does us no good if we are not sound in following those simple points.
The Armor of God is more real than we think.
I have noticed that everyday we, spiritually speaking, wake up "naked". Daily we must clothe ourselves with the Armor of God. Is it any wonder why the General Authorities stress so much the necessity of daily prayer and scripture study? We need to put on the Armor each and every day. If we will just start our day w/a prayer and read the scriptures for 15-30 or however long your schedule allows, the Armor of God is placed on us to protect us throughout the day. Our day will always be better.
Reasons I learned these things:
It is a law that if followed will bring blessings as results. I know for myself if I overlook saying my prayers or scripture reading I have a rough, long, tough day. As a missionary we read daily and pray but for a while I found myself having hard days and tough times and was wondering why? I am doing the simple things why is my day not good? I then realized my problem. I wasn't praying to be sincere but I was merely using "vain repetitions" and my goal was not to converse with my Father in Heaven but to just get it over with, and my scripture reading wasn't very good either, I was just reading to gain knowledge, not studying by faith, or "feasting" upon the words of Christ, or reading to learn or find things that could help me and my investigators improve. As I prayed sincerely that as I studied, I would be opened up to revelation and my mind would be enlightened and as I studying with "full purpose of heart" I found that it worked! I was so amazed. My personal study became so much more effective and I found little nuggets of things I could share and relate to with our less-actives, investigators, etc.
Now at the beginning I shared the "Tender Mercies" scripture because as I began this renewal, I had a few tender mercies. The most impacting one was that 2 days ago we were contacting less-actives in the small town of Elkins (which had yet to be done because our area is very large) and we got the prompting that we oughtta go ahead and do that today. So as we had contacted some people we were in one neighborhood and we decided we should tract it out because many cars were in driveways (which is a good indicator people are home) so we began to tract. As we knocked the door on one house no one answered, so we rang no one answered but I didn't feel like moving so we just waited longer than we usually would at a house with no one answering. A man answered and said "hey I have a brother who's a mormon in Tontitown" (<---that town was in my last area)
His brother is a recent convert as of like 5-6 months ago and me and Elder Hughes would go and see him and his family like twice a week and sometimes he would go on splits with us. He is originally from New York and is in his 50's, sadly he developed cancer last winter but was doing okay when I left Springdale) So the Brother says, "Well, he's actually here right now, do you want to see him?" I said, "You better believe I do!" So he let us in and sure enough there was my friend, but this time his body was frail and very skinny, we chatted happily and I asked him how his treatments and cancer is doing, he said that he is not doing very good and has to do more treatments...after we visited he introduced us to his family (they were having a little party) and as we were leaving the wife of the brother said hey can we say a prayer with you two? We said of course and she asked if I would say it. We all joined in a circle and I blessed the family and this good brother and felt that my heart was going to burn through my shirt with the spirit. As we departed I thanked my Heavenly Father that he would guide me, a missionary who makes mistakes a lot and is just trying to improve, to an old friend and let me say a prayer with him one last time because I'm not sure how much longer he's got to live...as we got back into the car because by this time we needed to be to an appointment, I pulled out a Book of Mormon and read that verse (1 Nephi 1:20) and knew what Nephi was talking about and just felt peace. I know you can have those experiences too. If you feel like you haven't had any spiritual experiences lately, or don't think you're worthy to receive them, just take a personal inventory and rededicate yourself to the Lord and to the Gospel and see where you can be more obedient, more loving, more exact and I promise you that you will feel the spirit more strongly than ever and feel your Heavenly Father's love more fully.
Elder Hayden T. Blackburn