I’m calling this blog “Becoming a Missionary,” but it could just as easily be called “Becoming a Christian,” becacuse the same principles apply. I’m going to be entirely serious here–something unusual for me. I’ll add the typical funny/silly stuff at the bottom, but to start, I want to talk about some things that really matter.
This week was rough for Sister Choo and I in a lot of ways that I won’t elaborate on. Mostly, though, it was rough because our one investigator got baptized on Saturday; so we found ourselves in the super-wonderful spiritual experience denoument that usually leads to feelings of disatisfaction, discouragement, frustration, disillusionment, etc. The Adversary works really hard on us after we enjoy a great spiritual experience. We also found ourselves in the unenviable position of not having a single investigator. Among other things, this caused us to have a rough, emotionally fraught week that didn’t seem to bear any fruits.
The good thing about this trying week was that it allowed (forced) me to engage in some introspection and brutally honest (and much-needed) self-evaluation. I did not and do not like what I saw. What kind of missionary I was (or wasn’t). So I’ve been thinking about this a lot and pondering on what I need to do to become the missionary I want to be and, more importantly, the missionary that my Heavenly Father knows that I can be.
Here are some of the conclusions that I’ve drawn and some of the other weighty things about which I’ve thought this week. ultimately, I think, all of my thoughts are centered on the Plan of Salvation. I’m not sure how eloquently this will all fit together and I don’t have much time to write, but I’m going to try and talk about the Plan of Salvation and attach my other thoughts on to it as appendages. We’ll see how this goes.
I’m assuming most of you, if not all of you (assuming that more than just my mom and sister read this) are members of the LDS church, but in case there are some of you who aren’t, I will give a very brief overview of what we call the “Plan of Salvation.” You can learn more about it and in greater detail by searching for it on mormon.org or lds.org.
God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is the Father of our spirits. We lived with Him before this life. He provided a plan for us to become like Him and receive of His joy and His glory (Moses 1:39). This plan required that we have a Savior to atone for our sins and overcome physical death that all might return to the presence of our Father. Two of our spirit brothers volunteered to be the savior of mankind. The first wanted us all to return to our Father in Heaven, but would not force us to do so. He knew that in order for us to become like our Father, we would have to learn and grow from experiences made from our own free will and choice. He wanted the Father to receive all of the glory. The second wanted to force all of God’s children to make the correct choices and return to God’s presence. He, however, wanted all of the glory for himself. Our Heavenly Father chose the first. That first one was Jesus Christ. The second was Lucifer.
Because without the ability to make our own choices, we would never be able to progress, even in this instance, our loving Heavenly Father let His spirit children choose who they would follow: Jesus Christ or Lucifer. Sadly, a third of our Father’s spirit children chose to follow Lucifer, who became Satan. They were cast out from God’s presence and will foverver remain in a state of misery, without bodies, unable to ever progress or find joy.
Since you are reading this, before this earth life you chose to follow Jesus Christ. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have been able to come to earth and gain a body. Good for you!
Because Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior, He is the central figure in this plan to bring us joy. As such, under the direction of the Father, Jesus Christ created this earth for us. After the earth was created and inhabited with all other life, the first humans–the first spirit children of our Father to gain bodies–were created in the image of God. They were called Adam and Eve and God placed them in a garden called Eden.
God gave unto Adam and Eve the essential gift of agency, or the ability to choose for oneself one’s own actions. With this agency, Adam and Eve choose to transgress the law of God and thus introduced sin and spiritaul death (seperation from God as a result of sin) into the world. However, this choice also enabled all of God’s children to come to earth and receive a body and progress in this plan (2Nephi 2:22-25).
Because we all sin and make mistakes, it was necessary that there should be an infinite Atonement made in order that the claims of justice could be fulfilled by mercy, thereby granting to mankind the opportunity to be absolved of their sins and receive foregiveness. To this end, our Heavenly Father sent his Son Jesus Christ down to earth to live a perfect life, take upon HIMSELF OUR SINS, PAIN, INFIRMITIES, and sorrows, die for our sake and then overcome the bands of death and live again through the miracle of resurrection.
Through this Atonement, all maknind will likewise be resurrected and, through living the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost), can be cleansed from sin.
After we die, our body and spirit are seperated. Our spirit will go to spirit paradise or spirit prison depending on how we lived in this life. Or in other words, our spirits will enter a state of peace and rest if we accepted the gospel of Christ and faithfully followed it while in the flesh. If we did not, our spirits will be confined to a state of misery. The spirits in paradise will teach those in prison about the gospel of Chirst, whereby they, too, can attain peace.
All who have ever, currently are, or will ever live on earth will be resurrected, meaning that the sprit and the body will be eternally and perfectly reunited. After this resurrection we will be judged accordingly–to our works and desires. Those who have repented and sought to follow Christ will receive mercy. Those who fully obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ will receive eternal life–or life in the presence of, and in the manner of, our Heavenly Father.
All will be rewarded according to these same works and desires. All will receive a place in one of the three kingdoms of glory: the Celestial, Terrestrial or Telestial. Those who truly received the gospel of Jesus Christ and lived it valiantly will receive a place in the Celestial Kingdom wherein our Father in Heaven dwells. They will enjoy eternal progression with their righteous family members and become like our Father in Heaven. Those in the other two kingdoms will not have this fulness of joy. But I’m only going to focus on the Celestial Kingdom because it is the the only one that really matters for my purposes. It’s where I want to go and where I want you to go. It’s where our Father in Heaven wants all of His children to go.
So, that was the Reader’s Digest version of the Plan of Salvation (minus the ink sketches). What does this have to do with the massive amounts of self-reflection that I’ve done this week? Everything and I’m finally getting there.
Ahhhh! This is so hard. I’m not sure how I can tie everything together in a way that will make any sense at all and my time is fast running out.
I’ve heard a lot of people say, (members, less-actives, investigators, potential investigators, etc.) say that it is “so hard.” That “there’s no way that I can make it, so I might as well not even try.” This is such a lie! This is the Adversary trying to draw people to apathy, to a place where they no longer have any hope so they justify in giving in to the carnal, natural man.
I’m not saying that life is always a bed of roses, but this Plan of Salvation was designed to (and is the only way to) make it possible to come back to our Father in Heaven’s presence. But everything is stacked in our favor to make it back. Jesus Christ not only came to Atone for our sins, He came to show us the way to overcome them.
In life, there is only one decision that we make that is of any consequence at all and it is one that we make multiple times a day: “Will I follow Christ?” Every heartache, sickness, infirmity, injustice, conflict, temptation, tragedy, etc. is only placed in our life for one reason: to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ by applying His teachings, by following His example to the situation.
Yes, life is “unfair,” but not to you, to the Adversary! He will lose and Christ will win–there is no question about this. Every “unfair” thing with which the Lord entrusts us is unfair to the Adversary–you’ve just been given another opportunity to become more like our Savior. Why complain? You fought in a great conflict for this privilege (paraphrased and adapted from a 2008 V.T. message by Sister Julie B. Beck). You fought against the Adversary and his minions before to have this trial, this hearatche, to have the opportunity to become more like our Savior. When the prophet Joseph Smith was suffering sore afflictions in Liberty Jail, the Lord consoled him thusly: “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good (D&C 122:7).”
The dice are loaded, the deck is stacked. You just have to make a choice: “Will I follow Jesus Christ?” Remember, you fought in a great conflict for this privilege.
So, how can we do this? How can we always choose the Savior?
I ran out of time. . . I will talk about this more next week. Sorry! And I’ll add the funny stuff next week, too. Sorry!