I have been inspired to entitle my talk “Faith to find through good works and the spirit: the art of staying focused and in-tune.”
Faith to find is a whole subsection of Preach My Gospel. It reminds us we are all children of God and can be blessed by the restored gospel. Just a few of these blessings are greater peace, direction, purpose in life and eternal families. All can benefit from this message. If we have faith in the Holy Ghost, he will guide us to those who need help and/or are ready for the gospel. He will give us what to say, and when he is there, the person you are conversing with will not be offended. That is a promise given by Elder Ballard. How can we as members help those we come across prepare to receive all the Father hath? There is a way that was revealed in this last October General Conference. Did you hear it? It was very simple, not very scary, and has numerous blessings attached.
Just a few of the blessings that were explicitly attached to keeping this commitment include: the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost which will guide us to those who are prepared for the gospel, more joy and peace, we will become truly converted and true disciples of Christ, be an answer to someone else’s prayer, bring love and compassion to our own family and others searching, become more meek, gentle and longsuffering, have charity, virtuous thoughts, no longer have any desire to do evil and most importantly, do and become like Christ. Besides all these personal and family blessings, there are also large-scale blessings promised which are as the church does this one simple thing daily; the world will be sweetened with faith hope and charity, and we will transform the barren desert wasteland. Now our ward is not a “barren desert wasteland” but it is suffering a drought in investigators and we need your help.
My brothers and sisters, that simple instruction mentioned and expounded upon in 9 talks this conference alone is to pray each morning for an opportunity to give service, then go about the day looking for and acting on promptings. Like Naaman, we may think it too simple, but let us have faith that the Lord really did inspire 9 different people to issue the same call including his prophet Thomas S. Monson. He stated at the close of conference “May we pray for the inspiration to know the needs of those around us, and then may we go forward and provide assistance.” This day to day service does not have to be gathering hurricane relief, or working in an orphanage in Zimbabwe, but small acts of kindness. Elder Ballard made an inspired forecast that “Over time this would have a transformative effect upon all of our Heavenly Father’s children through the extension of His love to them through us.” Notice he did not say members only, but all of Heavenly Fathers children. People’s hearts are softened through service and seeds are planted. These smiles, phone calls, sitting next to at lunches and shoveling of driveways have tremendous power. They lead the way for other meaningful service including the sharing of gospel truths and our testimonies down the road. Everyone is at a different stage in their life and may feel differently about our church, but together with this simple practice we can obtain all these promised blessings together with our neighbors and friends. If you are too busy for this simple task given by the Lord, you are working for Satan, for he teaches a man not to pray. Some of us may need adjusting like I did when this commitment was made, but with faith and an increased desire all can achieve this challenge.
Alright, now that we have accepted this challenge, how can we stay focused and remember? The Lord says that he has engraven us upon His palms and will never fail us nor forsake us. Have we done the same with Him? Have we truly been converted and had the gospel planted deep in our souls? We have covenanted at baptism to always remember Him and keep His commandments. Are we keeping the first two great commandments? Do we love the Lord with all our heart and soul, and do we love our neighbors? In a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks called Desire he discusses this difficult task: “Readjusting our desires to give highest priority to the things of eternity is not easy. We are all tempted to desire that worldly quartet of property, prominence, pride, and power. We might desire these, but we should not fix them as our highest priorities.” He then goes on to give a gruesome tale of a man trapped by a boulder while hiking. While waiting to die he saw a vision of him and his future son. This vision gave him the desire and courage to cut off his right arm and save himself and his future. He goes on to explain that “Most of us will never face such an extreme crisis, but all of us face potential traps that will prevent progress toward our eternal destiny. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress.” This vision of the future we desire can be a powerful motivational tool to help us reevaluate our everyday decisions and remember our commitments to our Lord and Savior. Joseph Smith also stated a similar thought process: “what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.” Let us daily check our priorities to see if they include family, scripture study and prayer. Another way to daily remind ourselves could be to record what act of service you rendered that day in a journal, or make a jar of “warm fuzzys.” Every time you serve, you add a pom-pom to a jar and over the next few months you can remember the “warm, fuzzy feeling” you got every time you acted like the Savior. Whatever you decide, keep up with it.
Elder Oaks closes with this statement: “Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions. In addition, it is our actions and our desires that cause us to become something, whether a true friend, a gifted teacher, or one who has qualified for eternal life.” Let me add that we may become true disciples of Christ, and the best neighbors anyone could ask for, always abounding in good works. The task is simple: just add asking for an opportunity to serve in your morning prayer.
Let us all be a little more Christian, let us observe and then serve, let us be anxiously engaged in the work of our Lord like a hive of diligent honey bees and let us follow the prophet for he knows the way. Let us pray for opportunities to serve each morning then go about doing good. Let us all pull together and serve our fellow brethren that these blessings may be realized. Our ward will be strengthened and transformed in Christ through His love and together we can find those prepared.