President's Pen 11-28-16 (Faith & Trust)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love you and hope you are all anxiously engaged as we #LIGHTtheWORLD!  Fear no man as you talk with everyone and do all you can to find those the Lord has prepared.  Invite them to learn more and to come unto Christ as we teach them the truths of the restored gospel.  Serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength!

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face in mortality is the unknown.  Most of us would like to have a perfect understanding of what comes next; school, work, family, health, prosperity, and happiness just to name a few.  The lack of visibility for some can cause a great deal of stress, anxiety, and worry about what the future holds.  The Apostle Paul recognized this challenge and taught the Corinthians, “For we walk by faith, not by sight”.  (1 Cor 5:7)  In other words, keep moving, keep doing, keep going, there will be enough light to help you on your way.

Faith, as taught so well by Alma “…is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21)  Alma then teaches us that in order for us to know these things are true we need to experiment upon the word, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if we can no more than desire to believe, to let this desire work in us, even until we believe.  (Alma 32:27)

Missionary work, and life in general, requires us to desire, hope, have faith, and believe there is a God in Heaven who knows us and each of His children personally.  It is our faith in Jesus Christ that gives us great hope, desires, and a belief that despite our imperfections, He has made it possible through His Atonement, that we be given grace, a change of heart, and the ability to return to our heavenly home.  Without these two pillars of faith, a Father in Heaven and a Savior, our mortality lacks purpose, direction, and any hope for the future.  We may not see, but we must come to know that we will and must walk by faith and that what we are walking towards is true.  For this reason, I love the assurance from the Savior himself, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:36)

My faith in the Savior has produced a wonderful outcome and something more reassuring than perhaps I would have ever appreciated, and it comes in the form of TRUST.  Nephi came to understand this principle incredibly well as he stated, “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever…” (2 Ne 4:34) Does your personal faith in the Savior lead you to trust even when you don’t understand or can’t clearly see the outcome?  There are many other references in the scriptures (look them up, a good study) where the prophets express their absolute trust in God and I love what is says in Proverbs (3:5), “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  I have come to know that one of the many blessings of my faith in the Savior is that I can trust God, regardless of the circumstances, and without knowing perfectly how He’ll help me, He just will.   

Trust in the Lord is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength only He can give us.  If we want to become like Nephi and trust in God, knowing He will always be there, we must take the leap of faith and go and do the things the Lord commands us (experiment).  This faith and trust was evident in Nephi’s effort to acquire the brass plates.  His faith allowed him to trust that God would prepare a way for him, even when he didn’t know how the Lord would prepare the way.   From this example and many others, it would seem reasonable then to assume that as my faith in God increases, so does my willingness to trust that His plans for me will work out, even though I don’t know the how, where, or when.  Conversely, a lack of faith in God decreases my ability to trust and with it comes fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. 

How does this apply to you and your missionary work? I see a logical and also a spiritual path that leads to increased faith and trust.  Follow this thinking with me…  I have faith in God and His work, so I submit myself to His will and do the things he asks me to do, I then do those things trusting that they will be for my good as His understanding is far better than mine, I then see the blessings that come from doing His will, and in turn my faith is strengthened and my trust in Him grows.  A few examples to consider…

·         Obedience – I have faith that God’s commandments are for my benefit (i.e., Missionary Handbook).  I then submit my will to His and obey whatever commandment He gives me (get up on time, exercise, music, sight and sound etc.).  I trust that He knows far more than I do and that obedience to His laws will work out (experiment).  I then see how my obedience brings peace of mind, a clear conscience, and happier life (fruit).  My faith in His commandments grows and my trust increases knowing that He will always take care of me, so I keep His commandments.

·         Daily Study --- I have faith that my study will prepare me to be a better instrument in the Lord’s hands.  I then dutifully study from 8-10 each morning, first by myself, and then with my companion.  I trust that what I study will be treasured up and that what I have come to learn will be available to me at the very moment I need it.  I then teach people, and through my preparation and study, the Spirit brings things to my remembrance that helps my investigators progress.  I have faith that the Lord will make me an instrument in His hands and I trust that through my studies I will be more prepared and others will be blessed so I study.

·         Nightly/Weekly Planning – I have faith that planning is spiritual process and that the Lord will prepare a way for us to invite and help others come unto Christ.  I plan with my companion focusing on what we want for them (goals) and how to help them (plans).  I trust that the Lord is in the vineyard with me and that as we go and do the Lord will allow us to help His children.  I don’t know the absolute outcome, but I trust His work will roll forward as I do my best.   My faith in planning increases as I know it is what the Lord wants and I trust that good things will happen as I do His will, so I plan.

·         Finding – I have faith that the Lord is preparing the hearts and minds of people in my area.   I open my mouth with everyone as I don’t know who is ready for the gospel and I know that I succeed when I invite.  I trust that the Lord will put people in my path as I am diligent and open my mouth.  I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I trust His work will roll forward as I do my best.  My faith to find is centered on the Savior and His work and I trust that He will prepare a way for His children to come to know His message, so I make a daily effort to find.

A few brief examples, but the question we should ask is do we have sufficient faith and trust in the Lord to go and do what He requires of us?  Is it possible that a lack of effort, commitment, or desire could be attributed to a lack of faith and trust in the Lord’s work, His plan, and His timing?  We all recognize that the Lord will try our faith and that faith will proceed miracle, but do we keep that faith and trust in Him when the plan doesn’t seem to go our way?

When the Savior gives a command to preach repentance and baptize all nations, the question isn’t whether it will happen, the questions is whether or not we will have sufficient faith to go and do and trust that we can and should.  Countless missionaries before us and countless that will follow have either put their faith and trust in the Lord’s work or have experienced what Peter did…  As Peter began to walk on water and then faltered in His faith the Lord reached out and asked, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt 14:31)  In my mind the Savior might have also asked, “Don’t you trust me?”, “Don’t you believe all things are possible through me?”  I believe that same question is there for us as well… “Do you trust in my work, do you know how important you are to me, do you know that I have paid the price for all, do you believe I am there to help you?”

Elders and Sisters, as our faith in Jesus Christ increases, our trust in Him and His work will become stronger and stronger.  The very fact that you are here on your mission is an example of your wonderful faith.  My invitation to you is to consider whether you fully trust in His work, and in what you are asked to do, even when you are having to walk by faith and not by sight.  Doubt not, fear not, the Lord is with us and this is His work.  As we invite others come unto Christ I pray that you will do so with absolute faith and trust in a God in Heaven that knows you and each of His children perfectly!  Love ya

Mission Update

#LIGHTtheWORLD begins on Thursday.  Do you have a plan in place to serve on that day?  Make sure you are planning a way to participate in the “25 Ways in 25 Days” effort… Remember to keep a daily journal on what you did with your companion to be a light, share those experiences in your weekly email home, and invite all to follow the Savior and do as He did! Talk to EVERYONE!