Monday, April 13, 2009

This is a Race of Endurance

I was asked to give the spiritual message in my Relief Society yesterday on chapter 30 in the Joseph Smith manual. It is titled Valiant in the Cause of Christ. I read it and had a few ideas about what to share, but I wasn’t really sure. I liked the title of the first section: The valiant cheerfully do all they can, even during times of trouble. I especially liked this quote.

“It was clearly evident that the Lord gave us power in proportion to the work to be done, and strength according to the race set before us, and grace and help as our needs required.” President Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 1:176

Isn’t that a beautiful testimony and a wonderful blessing to expect when we ourselves do the work the Lord has given us to do? I love it, but I didn’t want to use a quote from the actual lesson since I didn’t know what the teacher was planning. It’s a bit difficult to share a message from the lesson knowing a teacher is about to teach the lesson. I thought for sure she would use this quote in the lesson so I didn’t use it. (She didn’t read the quote so I could have.)

I had a few ideas, but still wasn’t sure what to share until I heard President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s Sunday session talk The Way of the Disciple. It was a great talk. I decided to use a quote from his talk to discuss the second section of the lesson: The valiant love the cause of Christ and strive to develop Christlike qualities. Here is the part of his talk that I read.

A friend of mine recently wrote to me, confiding that he was having a difficult time keeping his testimony strong and vibrant. He asked for counsel.
I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”

Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.

Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our “faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering.” (Alma 32:43.)

It’s true that some blessings come right away: soon after we plant the seed in our hearts, it begins to swell and sprout and grow, and by this we know that the seed is good. From the very moment we set foot upon the pathway of discipleship, seen and unseen blessings from God begin to attend us.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Way of the Disciple , 179th Annual General Conference, April 2009

It is important for us to develop Christ-like attributes like love, charity, virtue, but we have to be willing to work at it. If we plant a seed, we have to work to get it to grow. We must water it, give it sun, keep the weeds out of the soil, etc. We may not see any growth for some time, but if we continue to work diligently, we will see the flower bloom or the vegetable ripen. I printed 4 little seed packets from Gardens and Crafts and put different attributes on the front and then instructions on the back. (They are just a quick, not very good version of a seed packet, but they worked. Martha I am not! And they got beat up in my church bag before I took a photo.) I even put a little rice inside to make it sound like seeds. I read the instructions for charity:

1. Plant the seed by doing service for someone.
2. Water by giving a generous fast offering.
3. Give it light by praying for others.
4. Weed it by being cheerful when serving.
5. Repeat process.
We can’t just plant a seed and do nothing else, and expect it to grow the same day. It isn’t easy to keep repeating the process. There are obstacles to obtaining every attribute of Christ. We can become discouraged when the person we serve seems ungrateful or when our work seems to go unnoticed. But if we keep in mind that what we are growing is our beautiful, blooming flower called charity (in this example), not a thank you card or praise, we can gain strength to continue gardening in our life. Like the Joseph Smith quote, Heavenly Father will help us do our work and become better people as long as we put forth effort and give Heavenly Father our whole heart.
We will be rewarded with a precious bouquet of many qualities.

2 comments:

  1. I loved Pres. U's story about that. Can't spell his name, sorry. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great message. I love the seed packets and President Uchtdorfs message. I really needed this today. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    ReplyDelete

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