Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When All Is Lost?

After the recent crisis in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami it seems to have everyone looking at the news with similar thoughts of how sad the tragedy was and how massive and quick it came, also how much it is still affecting us today with food threats from nuclear waste and so forth. One thing that I know was being noticed was how calm the people in japan were being and how organized and polite the stores were to customers and the same with the people waiting for food and shelter. This type of devastation brings up conversations of the other disasters "waiting" to happen and the question of if that type of disaster took place in America how the people would react.
While thinking about this, I thought about what kind of things get us through the trying times in our lives. Some might listen to music as a way of coping with trials while others may spend their time working on cars, hunting, eating, going for drives, exercising of some sort, shopping, or many other activities. These activities are ways that we deal with stress, anger, heartache, depression, and other ways we may feel when life takes us for a turn. But what happens when life takes us for a nose dive? What happens if all our material items aren't available at our fingertips, when food is short, when we have no home, when family and friends are taken, what do we do when all that we know is taken from us? How do we make it through that type of trial?
I suppose that we could ask the survivors what they do or did to keep their hearts high in such despair. I suppose that we may never have to find out what it takes to get through such a trial, but the question always arises, "Would I be prepared?"
Something that comes to mind when tragedy like this happens is that, the one thing no one will be able to take from us is our Faith and relationship with God. Faith is one thing that fire, tornado, famine, earthquake, or any earthly disaster can take from us. Thus, if we focus our attention on building our Faith (don't worry its easy, prayer, scripture study, church, simple stuff like that), the more possibility we will have in making it through any trial in life whether it be a week where your car is in the shop (and you don't have a spare), or a tsunami that wipes out everything that you have.
My hope is that we would take more time and effort in building our testimony in our Savior Jesus Christ, and ultimately learn to trust and rely on him and the power of the atonement to get us through trials we face in our lives.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reaching Our Quintessential Potential

One of the things that I struggled with throughout my teenage years, or my "young adult-hood" (I guess that's what some would call it... probably arguable by others) was figuring out who I was. This quest went way deeper with questions of what my strengths/weaknesses are, what kind of activities or hobbies I liked/was good at and what I wanted with my life overall. It still is a question that I have, I guess everyone always has those questions, maybe that's what life is for. Anyway, before my mission and being reactivated in the church I still didn't know. Well, maybe I thought I knew but then when the missionaries came over and I started to rededicate myself to the gospel it seemed like everything I "knew" was being questioned.
So I started to follow down this new but somewhat familiar path, which in turn ended up with me being on a mission. I wanted to come on a mission so that I could tell people that life is better with the knowledge/faith I have of Jesus Christ through the restored Gospel and its teachings. In my attempts to do this I find a great deal of people who are in the similar shoes as I was in, trying to find themselves in attempts to try different life styles. I remember when I was in middle and high school I was always trying to find out what "genre" of people I molded with the best. One year it was preppy people then maybe the next it was more of your trouble maker kids, my clothing style always changed along with music, language, attitude, desire, thoughts, and mostly the way I acted. It has led me to think about how much my life would be different if I would have continued to follow the Savior throughout my childhood.
I feel that my life now has direction with who I want to be and where I want to take my life. I find myself realizing strengths and weaknesses and knowing my limits on life. Its not like it just hit me one day but looking back at the last 2 years of my life has been a remarkable experience. I'm not saying that people wouldn't be able to find who they are if they didn't have the gospel, they probably won't reach the happiest point they can obtain in this life, I know I wouldn't have known as much and wouldn't have been as comfortable with who I am otherwise.
As I was reflecting recently I was thinking about how much different my life is now compared to then. I tried to think of what attributed to the peace and comfort that I have in my life. I'm still the same sarcastic person that people usually end up misunderstanding my humor but my life somehow seems to fit and make sense. As I was reflecting I thought about Christ and His life. From before the beginning of the world Christ has always tried to glorify and serve God. Our salvation depends on Christ and what he did from the beginning up to what he continues to do now, but I find it interesting that Christ all throughout his life just wanted to do His Father's will. He would never take credit for himself and just wanted people to obey God and live life in a way that leads them back to Him. Through this, Christ truly reached his full potential on earth, He was purely sinless and one of the most well know people still today, not to mention the most important person... thousands of years later.
Lawrence E. Corbridge expressess my desired point clearly when he said, "The United States Army says 'Be all that you can be.' But neither the Army nor you know all that you can be. The Lord says: 'Let me make of you all that you can be.' As measured by men's standards Army Rangers are impressive, but when compared with what the Lord can make of you, compared to the realization of your divine potential they truly are nothing. The realization of your amazing, astounding, and true potential happens only in the hands of the Lord." I know that it's only through the power of our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ that we can become all we can be, and I pray that we may follow in our Savior's footsteps to attain that full satisfaction in this life as well as in the life to come.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Learning to Obey

It seems that as the world changes, people become more and more opinionated about the Gospel. One of the subjects I've heard of the most is the topic of the commandments. Many people argue that in order to know if something is bad they have to experience it first hand, thus defeating the purpose of the specific instruction God has given us pertaining to ways of living. While I agree with the fact that you learn a great deal from your past mistakes and the ways you deal with trials on your own, there is still a great importance and safety in obeying the commandments and I would add you can learn just as much if not more from obeying than disobeying, and might I add, its from a much safer distance.
When we choose to disobey a commandment we often think that we will be stronger from learning why it's "bad" first hand. However, often times we fail to realize some of the dangers this can lead us to. One of the high risks we run by not obeying a commandment is falling into the trap of addictions, jail time, loss of trust from family and friends and much more. Sometimes we fall so far into the temptation of saying, "Not living that commandment won't affect me that much." Then before we realize it we are too far from thinking that we can change our lives, we think we are in a place where we can't repent from our sins, sometimes we fall to a point where we lose hope of changing and just think our destiny is to continue to fall. We never know how much the result of disobedience will affect us in the end.
Obedience to the commandments can lead us to watch and learn from the mistakes of others around us. Also, one of the greatest benefits of obeying the commandments God has set forth, is that if there is any blessing, whether it be spiritual or temporal, your obedience opens the channel to receive those blessings. It also allows us the assurance that we are doing what our Heavenly Father has asked us to do. If we are obedient we are blessed.
God knows the results of not obeying all the commandments he has given us. Some may seem small and not so important and others obvious and easy to follow. However, that should not lead us to judge and decide to follow some commandments versus others, the commandments given are in affect for all of us.
When I think of God the easiest way for me to come close to imagining him is of having the characteristics of our parents, plus the ones that they lack. I know when I was younger my mom would "choose her battles" with me and decide what rules she wanted to enforce with added importance and what things she was going to let me learn on my own. I often feel that God has this similar characteristic, I'm sure there are plenty of other things in the world that he would not like to see us doing but he has chosen certain "battles" he was standing firm in. This, to me, shows an added emphasis on the commandments that God has chosen to ask us to follow and also the emphasis on the danger we will fall into when not heeding to his words.
One opinion given is that the commandments tie us down and don't let us live to our fullest ability or learn all that we can from this life. Others would disagree and say that the commandments help us live and learn all that we can from this life. The best way I've heard it said was in the analogy of a kite, if you looked at the world from the kites perspective you would think it would be accusing the string attached of holding it down and not letting it fly to its fullest potential. It would almost be saying, "Let go so I can fly high! You're limiting my ability, I know if you let go I can go higher!" But we know from our "expert kite flying skills", that if you were to let go of the string the kite would spin out of control and soon crash to the ground. That is somewhat similar to the commandments, we think that they are limiting our choices in life but when we live them and then decide to take them away we see that life is better suited with some string holding us up. Because commandments are divine instruction from God, and he wants us only to succeed, if we obey them he has promised us the blessing of reaching past our potential than if we had tried to live by our own rules.
When it comes down to the bottom line we don't know how much our life will be affected from disobedience but we do know that if we follow what we are told we have an added assurance that God is watching over us and is proud with the choices we are making, allowing him to bless us to our fullest. Donald L. Hallstrom has said, "I have always found that when we do the little things correctly, the Lord gives us the strength to accomplish big things... You might not always understand the reasons for some rules or commandments, but if you will follow them even in the little things you will have more strength to do big things... And you will have the great blessing of knowing that you are on the Lord's side and that He is on yours". I know that there is importance in following the commandments and I wish that someday we could follow with the exactness and gain all the support and blessings in store for us.