Monday, July 22, 2013

Thoughts on Faith and the Future...

First off the baptism had to be postponed to this Saturday the 27th...It will work out, I know it will. This week has been pretty eventful I had to go on exchanges with some Elders from my district and then go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. While I was on exchanges with the Elders from my district we went and visited a returning less active and I had such a heartwarming experience. I didn't know the guy and so we went into the lesson with the idea just to read some Preach My Gospel with him. (---because he is 23 and wants to prepare to go on a mission) but as we were visiting with him I got the thought to show a Mormon Message with him...(I have a DVD of Mormon Messages and I love to use it while teaching to get a point across, they are great visual aids) I showed the one where Elder Bowen talks about how in Idaho Falls a landfill was reclaimed into a beautiful park and how Heavenly Father can help us reclaim our souls. He talks about how he has lived in Idaho Falls his whole life and how it would be absurd to go and try to dig up the trash that he's contributed, it would be a sad sight to tear up this beautiful park just to dig up some old garbage. He compares it with ourselves and says there is no need to go back into the past and dig up old garbage when the Atonement has healed us. I then testified to the young man that no matter what we have done in the past if we have truly repented there is no need to hurt ourselves or discourage ourselves by digging up old garbage or dwelling on mistakes that we made in the past. I told him that we can change and we can become the child of God he wants us to become. After that he started to get tears in his eyes and thanked me for coming today because that's exactly what he needed to hear. He explained how he had made many mistakes in his life and was often depressed because he was constantly being reminding himself about them and could not let them go or believe he could change. After coming out of that visit I was just so happy to have been a clean vessel for the Holy Ghost to whisper to me what this young man needed, I love those moments when you realize you had been following a prompting.

But I love that concept of the Gospel that we can as individuals change and repent and become a new creature born again of God. I am so grateful for the Atonement that allows me to become the Son of God I was designed to be. So, with that thought I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead.

From Elder Holland's talk "Remember Lot's Wife" He makes so many good points on this:

"we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind"

To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now; to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future; to miss the here-and-now-and-tomorrow because we are so trapped in the there-and-then-and-yesterday—these are some of the sins, if we may call them that, of Lot’s wife.

One of my favorite books of the New Testament is Paul’s too-seldom-read letter to the Philippians. After reviewing the very privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, his education, his standing in the Jewish community—Paul says that all of that was nothing (“dung” he calls it) compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase: “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me.’” Then comes this verse:

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13–14]

No Lot’s wife here. No looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah here. Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us where we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

At this point, let me pause and add a lesson that applies both in your own life and also in the lives of others. There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.That happens in marriages, too, and in other relationships we have. I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat"

I encourage you to read all of that talk.

I LOVE this talk. Because as a missionary I have struggled with my past mistakes and wonder a lot if I'm worthy to be the Lord's representative and if I'm worthy to follow promptings or perform miracles but I know that through repentance I have been changed and reclaimed and I don't need to dig up old garbage and destroy what is beautiful, I can focus my energy and strength towards becoming the priesthood man I want to become. Lately I have started feeling the spirit stronger because I am trying harder to press forward and not back. That is why I have loved my mission it has been a real "refiner's fire" for me and I have been able to overcome many obstacles and challenges. I have truly been awakened to the sense of my own "nothingness" and I like King Lamoni's father wish to give up "all my sins" to know my Heavenly Father better and realize the blessings I have taken for granted, the wonderful circumstances in which I have been born and raised, and the many marvelous experiences and opportunities I have been able to have. And because of the Atonement and repentance I can press forward and forget my past self and immerse myself in the task of becoming a true disciple of Christ. The restored gospel allows not just me but all of us to enjoy this! Isn't that remarkable? Doesn't that make you happy? To know that you can be forgiven of mistakes that you have made and move on. I thank Heavenly Father for my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because it is true and it makes me happy. It gives me joy amidst this world of chaos, uncertainty, terror, wickedness, etc. because my foundation is anchored upon the rock of my Redeemer, which is Christ the Lord.


Elder Blackburn

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