President's Pen 1-15-18 (The Way is Prepared)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world! 

 Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya!  Thanks for your faith in the Savior and His work.  Continue to choose faith and follow the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson, “Day after day, on your path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show!”  Our faith is on display daily as we declare repentance and invite all to follow Christ into the waters of baptism.  Keep the flame of faith burning!

Imagine you wake up one morning, and at your feet, lies a ball of curious workmanship.  It has spindles that point the way you should go, and words written on it that help you know and understand the ways of the Lord.  You come to learn that the ball works based on the faith, diligence, and heed you give it.  Would you pay attention to this ball?  Sure, you say president, we’d be unwise servants not to. :)

Well… you know the account Lehi and family as they found this very ball of curious workmanship outside their tent one early morning.  It had spindles to point the way, and from time to time, words were written on it that helped them understand the ways of the Lord. (1 Ne. 16)  They would have been crazy, as they wandered in the wilderness and crossed the great waters, not to have had the faith, diligence and heed to pay attention to it, right?  Such a small and simple thing for them really.  Can’t you hear them say, “If we believe that this compass will guide us, have faith that it will work, and pay attention to it, we should be good to go!”  Right?

Well… sadly, fallen men and women struggle with the easiness of the way at times.  As Alma taught his son Corianton about Lehi and family’s experience… “And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it... And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.  And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.  Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;  Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.” (Alma 37:38-43)

Elders & Sisters, the ball, director, compass, or Liahona lies at our feet.  The Lord has prepared it, it is simple, and if we give it heed, diligence and faith, it points the way we should go, and helps us understand the ways of the Lord.  What is it?  Well, we have it in several formats at this point, but you hold it in your hand, and it is available to you both day and night.  I would describe it as the missionary library, inclusive of the standard works, Preach My Gospel, the missionary handbook, District 1 & 2, the online proselyting library, and the words of living prophets and apostles (our Liahona).  These tools point the way and help us know the way of the Lord, the question is do we give them heed, diligence and show our faith in the direction we are given?

Too many times, we seek resources or tools that we believe will somehow show us a better way.  We look for silver bullets, or try to forge trails that seem easier, only to find that the small and simple things always work best.  You know the story of the children of Israel… All they had to do was look at the brass serpent to live, but it was too easy.  The king of Syria, who was a leper, was told to wash seven times in the river Jordan, but initially rebuffed this idea stating that other bodies of water would be better (WHAT?).  Fortunately, his servants helped him see the errors of his ways and he was healed as he did what the Prophet Elisha commanded him to do.  (2 Kings 5) 

As missionaries, we can fall victim to the same thinking…  We know better! Instead of going to PMG chapter 9, when we need ideas to find, we might forget to simply look at the goodness we’ve been given, or worse, disregard them as viable.  We can add any other insightful topics from PMG that might help us like: working with members, with ward councils, how to feel and recognize the Spirit, how to use the Book of Mormon etc.  How can we forget these things or ignore them?  How can we not be in PMG daily?  We may feel like the way to help people understand is to teach using object lessons, instead of teaching the doctrine simply and plainly (PMG chapter 3 & pamphlets).  Rather than positive daily follow up with our investigators, we may lack the faith and feel like we are being annoying or overbearing.  Instead of studying from the missionary library we’ve been given, we might feel like we’ve been there and done that, and that other resources will be more effective.  We may also be slothful and not even look at tools that can help us become more effective instruments, like the District videos, the First 12 Weeks, or assigned study materials.  Certainly, we wouldn’t be like the examples we find in the scriptures, but… the easiness of the way can trip us up to.  We know the outcome from this thinking, “as our fathers (missionaries) were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper.” Do you give heed? 

Elders & Sisters, fortunately for Lehi and family, they did learn for themselves that giving heed to the ball laid at their feet would lead them to the promised land. (Alma 37:38-47)  We must too learn for ourselves that giving heed to the small and simple things we’ve been given is the right path for us to follow.  Will we give heed, will we be diligent, will we have the faith to be directed and know the ways of the Lord?  My invitation is to you is the same Alma gave to his son, “O my son(s) and daughters, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.” (Alma 37:43)  Let us give heed, let us be faithful, let us be diligent, let us all use the tools we’ve been given that point the way and help us understand the ways of the Lord.  Love ya!

President Hall