Privileges

Growing up, I attended church… mostly because my parents made me, and I liked to hang out with my friends. Church really wasn’t a spiritual thing for me, and if I could find a reason to not go, I exploited it. I remember one weekend when I was thirteen, I got a bad sunburn on my shoulders and used that as my excuse. I was convinced I had gotten away with it until a couple of my youth leaders showed up at the front door and made me come to church with them.

We moved to south-central Idaho when I was fifteen. Once again, church was more of a chore, something I was obliged to do. On top of that my family didn’t feel entirely welcome in our congregation. I made friends though, and they were the main reason I tolerated it.

Shortly after we moved, my dad lost his job and we eventually could no longer remain there. We got split up a little bit. My mom and I moved to Idaho Falls, my sister was going to college, my brother was living in Provo, Utah, and my dad moved to Salt Lake City to stay with some relatives while he looked for a job. This time around, I said “screw it” to church. Pardon the French, but that’s honestly how I felt. My mom worked just about every night, so we she was busy trying to regain her energy Sunday morning. I, on the other hand, had no such excuse. The meetinghouse was only a mile and a half away, and I could easily have attended by myself, but I didn’t. I simply didn’t care.

Did our lives fall apart? Did we lose the influence of the Spirit in our home? Etc? Etc? No. In fact, those nine months I spent there were awesome. I loved going to another new school and having new experiences. I loved the time spent with my mom; our relationship was strengthened tremendously, and the other relationships I developed have changed my life forever. I continued to grow and learn from my experiences.

My dad eventually found a job and house down in Utah, and once my school year finished we moved down. We began attending church again. I was a bit apprehensive about the whole “Utah Mormons” thing, but something strange happened. For once, I felt as though I actually belonged in that pew. I felt at home, and church quickly became an event I looked forward to, instead of dreading its arrival as I had done for so many years.

As I began to finally get something spiritual out of church, I realized what I had been missing those nine months I blew it off. Yes, my life hadn’t been terrible, but I had been missing out on spiritual growth and experiences. My life could’ve been so much better, yet I had settled for less than what I was privileged to receive. The Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity and I had only taken a small portion of it. Who knows what might’ve happened had I possessed a different attitude and looked at life through a brighter shade. Well, I know. I know I would’ve learned so much more had my heart and mind been more focused on the Lord, seeking out good things, instead of trying to run away from what I had been taught as a child.

This is just a simple example. Take from it what you would like. But so many times in our lives we live beneath our privileges. We can’t comprehend the blessings God has in store for us, if we only seek Him out and do what He has commanded us to do.

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The Restoration: Of Knowledge

A bit of wise counsel I’d like to share from Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-19)

Pride cometh before the fall. This is true in all aspects of life, including education and knowledge. I’m sure many would agree that, today, society as a whole has shunned the wisdom of God. We have come far in such a short amount of time. Technological and scientific advances are astounding. More and more information is being discovered each day. But are these truly our advances, or are they blessings from God?

As our knowledge has moved forward, our faith in God has taken a decline. Jacob’s words are true. We no longer hearken to the counsel of God, but instead have made steps to remove Him from our societies. We think we don’t need Him, when in reality every step we’ve made has been because of His love and kindness.

In love, God the Father and Jesus Christ restored The Church of Jesus Christ to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. The heavens are wide open, and revelation is being poured out through living prophets and apostles and through ourselves. The priesthood authority that Jesus Christ personally brought during His earthly ministry is back in full force.

From the early 19th century until the present time, just look at all the advances we have made! The fact that all of the remarkable inventions and discoveries began the same time as the Restoration of Christ’s gospel is no coincidence.

I know that these blessings have sprouted because Jesus Christ’s church is once again on the earth. By recognizing God and Christ in all things, our knowledge can bring us further blessings. Let us not shun Them from society, but bring Them back, because “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.”

Happiness

My mind feels a bit fuzzy at the moment. I must honestly admit that I cannot think of anything clever, or terribly thought-provoking. Perhaps this just means that something simple and plain is more in order. Thankfully, my thoughts were drawn to the words of a very well-spoken man known in the Book of Mormon as King Benjamin.

Mosiah chapter 2

41  And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

I have witnessed this truth countless times in my life. Those that keep the commandments of God are truly blessed. Oftentimes, however, this verse is misconstrued. Obeying the commandments does not result in a perfect, pain-free life. It does not mean that everything will work out just how we want. Life is full of sadness, pain, and trials. They are to be expected.

But obeying the commandments will always bring us happiness and true joy. When we are in line with God’s will, our souls can rest and know that He loves us and is watching over us. We will receive the strength we require for our obstacles. We will be granted comfort by the Spirit to deal with the problems that aren’t solved in the way we had hoped. In this way are we blessed both temporally and spiritually.

Doctrine and Covenants section 130

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21  And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

When we obey, God will bless us. I know that through obedience to God’s commandments we can experience true joy that cannot be trampled by the world. It is only when I know I am following God’s will that I receive a peace unlike any other, and it is when I am only thinking of myself and my own desires over God’s that I am buried with grief and remorse.

If you have taken of your time to read this, I testify to you that obedience to God’s commandments brings blessings. It brings strength. It brings peace and comfort. It brings happiness, happiness that can last for eternity.