I spoke in Sacrament Meeting yesterday at Church. I thought I'd share portions of the talk here. I included an update on our family at the end.
“Where Can I Turn for Peace?”
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we learn that Jesus Christ is the way to peace. He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He is the only true source of peace for us. Because we are fallen creatures, we have no way to salvation except through Him. We cannot feel divine and lasting peace unless we “Come Unto Him”.
So then, how do we “Come unto Him”?
I have actually been seriously pondering that question since last February. I was wondering… ‘How do I really, I’m mean truly, Come Unto Him?” As I’ve studied my scriptures and attended Church with that question in mind, I’ve been writing down any scriptures or impressions that I feel answer it. So, as I was putting together this talk... those journal notes, the scriptures, general conference talks and my own experiences morphed into three principles that for me answer this question... “How do we Come Unto Him and experience his peace?”
1. Come to know the Savior
Knowledge is the first step. It is a necessary step toward finding peace and coming unto Him. If we do not know of His love, His plan, and His gospel, how can we fully partake of it?
In the conference talk, That Your Joy Might Be Full, Jean B. Bingham asks...“Are our testimonies built on the bedrock foundation of Jesus Christ and His gospel? When the storms of life press upon us, do we frantically look for a how-to book or an internet post for help? Taking the time to build and strengthen our knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ will yield rich dividends in times of trial and adversity.”
One thing I have been striving to do, is to show Heavenly Father that I put Him first in my life, that I love and honor Him. One way I decided to do that was to start off my day by studying the scriptures and praying first thing each morning. I don’t usually study for very long, but I keep a scripture journal to write down any thoughts or impressions as I read and pray. As I have focused more on learning about the Savior, I wrote the following in my journal one morning…
Jesus Christ is the ultimate King, leader and Sheppard. It is a privilege to be a member of His Church or “Kingdom” because of the bounteous blessings he bestows upon all of his followers. Like King Benjamin (one of the Prophet/Kings in the The Book of Mormon), he serves his people. He works alongside them and gently leads them. He has written the law and is the only truly worthy judge...next to God. Revelations 17:14 says “for he is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with him are called and chosen, and faithful.” The prophets and apostles are called, chosen and faithful. But in another sense... all of us are called and chosen, we choose whether or not we are faithful. He has called all of God’s children to enter into his rest, join his kingdom and come unto Him.
Coming to KNOW the Savior through scripture study, prayer and keeping his commandments, will lead to Peace.
2. Repent Daily
One morning, I began to think of a metaphor about how cleaning dirty dishes is like repentance. I don’t remember exactly what prompted this thought pattern, but here’s what I wrote in my journal.
Repentance is like cleaning dishes. When we eat on a plate, our plate gets dirty. When we wash our plate right away, it is very easy to clean.
As we live our day to day lives, we are going to make mistakes. When we repent quickly (through the atonement of Jesus Christ), we become clean instantly. It is easy to correct and continue moving forward.
On the other hand, If we eat a plate of spaghetti and leave it out for a few hours or even for days on the counter, it will dry and harden onto the plate. Cleaning it will require soaking the plate for hours and it may take several runs through the dishwasher before it comes clean again. But eventually it will, because the dish itself is high quality and the soap is the best soap there is. Like a plate of food left out for days, when we knowingly sin and don’t repent, we become stained and hardened over time. It will take a lot more work before we can become clean. It may take a while of “soaking” (immersing ourselves in the gospel of Jesus Christ), scrubbing, rinsing and repeating. But because we are pure vessels, because we are cut from the highest quality material; we won’t ever remain stained, as long as we utilize Jesus Christ’s atonement (the purest soap of all).
The direct opposite of the peace that comes from repentance is the guilt, shame, pain and anguish that comes from a life of sin.
Mosiah 2:38 says “Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.”
What I realized when I read this scripture, is that it’s not an actual flame of fire that is tormenting this man described here. It is the guilt, the pain and anguish which is like an unquenchable fire...that is causing him to suffer so much and will cause those who die in rebellion toward God to suffer from their own guilt and shame. Wickedness never was happiness. (Alma 41:10-11)
Partaking in the gift of Jesus Christ’s atonement through daily repentance will lead to peace.
3. Choose Faith
As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “Having ‘descended below all things,’ He (Jesus Christ) comprehends, perfectly and personally, the full range of human suffering.”8 We might even say that having descended beneath it all, He is perfectly positioned to lift us and give us the strength we need to endure our afflictions. We have only to ask.” (Quoted by Elder Dallin H. Oaks)
This past month, Eli hasn’t seemed very happy. It has been difficult to pinpoint the source of his discomfort. Along with the help of his hospice nurse, we are trying various approaches to make him comfortable, but we haven’t solved it yet. I had some time on Wednesday to hold him while the others were at school. He was moaning and whimpering, clearly uncomfortable, but as I rocked him I decided to just talk to him and share my testimony with him.
I said...“Eli, I love you and I’m really sorry that you are struggling. I wish I could ease your pain!” At the sound of my voice, he instantly calmed and quieted down. He then turned his face toward me, listening. I continued, “God loves you so much. He will always protect you and care for you, no matter what happens. Jesus Christ is your Savior. He has suffered, died and been resurrected. And guess what, because of that, someday you will have a perfect body and be resurrected! And you will get to continue to learn and grow and be healthy. And I will continue to get to be your Mother!”
As I spoke my faith and testimony to him, Eli was silent and the house felt holy and peaceful. I could feel the presence of the Holy Ghost. Shortly after I was done speaking with him, he began to fuss again. But for a moment, it was like the heavens had opened.
We will ALL experience difficulties in this life. During these times we can feed our spirits with spiritual food or…. we can turn to worldly comfort that will never satisfy. We can entertain fear and confusion or we can to choose to believe. BUT, It’s not realistic for us to expect that we will feel happy and peaceful all the time. Without the pain, sorrow and disappointment we are meant to experience in this life, we can’t fully appreciate the peace and joy. We can allow ourselves to be sad, to grieve, to be disappointed as we need to, instead of trying to escape or cover up those emotions with unhealthy patterns or momentary pleasures. As we allow sad or difficult feelings, with faith, as a part of our life experience, we can then turn to the true source of peace, our Savior. We can choose faith and righteousness even amidst the trials of life.
I believe that learning about our Savior will help us to “Come Unto Him” more fully. And as we repent, we can feel that sweet sense of purity and joy. I believe that choosing faith and righteousness is the path to peace. And even amidst difficult challenges, we can find peace. We can have hope, we can have faith. And that flame, that light, can stay lit within us. I believe that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation. There have been many times that I have felt the peace that “surpasses all understanding”. I believe that peace is available to all of God’s children.
Here are some pictures of our family from the last few weeks:
I found Evan hanging out with Dixie under the trampoline one day, it was so cute!
Jasmine took this cute picture of Nala.
It was overcast a few days this summer break and the kids were able to go for some walks.
Other days, they ended up surrounding the Television.
Eli falls asleep more easily now in the middle of the day. A sweet lady who makes blankets for hospice kids,
supplied the nurse with this blue and white one to give to us!
supplied the nurse with this blue and white one to give to us!
Brad and Laya went camping with the dogs during the 4th of July weekend. They had a blast, but didn't get much sleep!
Real life rattlesnake!!! Brad and Laya saw this scary guy on their camping trip!!
Jasmine caught this amazing smile!
Laya found these shirts at the mall recently during one of our Mother/Daughter dates. She told me we should get them. Totally her idea, can you believe it!
We had a small party with some kids from Eli's class last year. Laya painted everyone's faces.
And of course her own...
Thank you to Adelina and Austin from Eli's 2nd grade class for coming to visit Eli.
On the 4th of July, we actually got out of the house early to go watch the Vail 4th of July Parade!
But it was WAY too hot for Eli. We didn't realize how overheated he was getting even though we were in the splash zone. We won't be bringing him next year!
It was a fun activity despite the heat. We ran into our old friends, the Sandras!!
Evan's favorite was the mini bus
Doing smoke bombs in the backyard on the 4th. Quite stinky!
Laya took some good pictures ;)
We lit some of our fireworks while it was still light outside, before Evan had to go to bed. He was exhausted. I think we watched 3 or 4 movies that day. Quite a fun, lazy day.
Evan started 1st grade. He's doing really well so far and really enjoying himself.
Eli is staying home with me, so we can manage his health a little better.
Laya is in 6th grade at Civano Middle School and really loving it so far!
For Brad and my date last weekend we went to the UofA and checked out the Art Museum there. It was really fun. Don't ask me what pose I am doing, I have no idea! Take a look at some of the cool art we saw at the museum.
There we 7 exhibits and all kinds of different art.
We were impressed by this unique photography exhibit. So cool! This guy (Richard Slechta) uses paint, paper and light to create interesting things and then photographs them.
Have a great rest of your July!!