Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday Talks

The Mr and I were asked to speak in church yesterday. Because we don't have paid clergy, every so often, we get the opportunity to share a talk to the congregation. I was really nervous-this ward is kind of (ok really) intimidating for me so for the first time in years I wrote out my talk word for word, and I practiced saying it out loud in front of the mirror a couple times as well. They also had me as the concluding speaker which was slightly terrifying. Between the goof ball elder who was supposed to take 2 minutes but took 10 minutes rambling, the Mr going over about 5 minutes, and the beautiful but long musical number I had 3 minutes to give what they told me would be 15 minutes. The counselor told me I could go over but I was still left with about 8 minutes.  So I am putting the full version on here so I can feel like I gave the full talk to somebody. It really was great to prepare and the Mr did awesome, as usual. He is a stud and we are so lucky to have him. So here it is.

God is our father we are his children we are part of his family he loves us.  I remember the first time I read these few sentences in Preach my gospel, how grateful I am for the truth we know in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was born and raised in the church and know all of these things to be true but I had never connected them so succinctly. 
God, who has so many different titles is first and foremost our father,  which makes us his sons and daughters with divine worth. We are children of royalty-only not some limited type of government we know to be associated with royalty. We are part of his perfect family and he loves us more than anything else. He has said his whole purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I am very comforted knowing a perfect being is doing everything in his power to help me a very imperfect being get back to him.
In that same spirit I understand that a perfect being communicating with imperfect, stubborn, and selfish people is probably really difficult. I will be the first to admit that my type A perfectionistic personality can get in the way of my ability to worship or listen to promptings of the spirit because I want to do things my way.  So when I read the scripture found in 2 nephi 28:30 that talks about God giving us things ”Line upon line, precept upon precept” and I am relieved.
Relieved because there is no way I can become all that God wants or sees in me. Like the CS Lewis quote I can only comprehend building myself a cottage but he is ready to build me into a palace.  Maybe I am the only one to feel this way but there are times when even reading my patriarchal blessing that I get discouraged because I am not developing this attribute fast enough or I really question what Heavenly Father sees that I can become. But, once again I am brought back to this scripture and find peace.  I am not going to become perfect overnight.
My heavenly father (who I might add only has my best interest at heart) is only going to reveal to me what I need for better or for worse. When I have received a new calling or trial I felt unprepared for I think he might of given me a little too much. On the flipside sometimes when I am really wanting direction or relief from a burden I feel like he could provide me with a little more but either way I am grateful to know first and foremost that God-my father knows what I need better than I do.  President Monson shared an experience several years ago about his visit to some saints in Easy Germany behind the Berlin wall.
I quote “
They had so little. My heart filled with sorrow because they had no patriarch. They had no wards or stakes—just branches. They could not receive temple blessings—neither endowment nor sealing. No official visitor had come from Church headquarters in a long time. The members were forbidden to leave the country. Yet they trusted in the Lord with all their hearts, and they leaned not to their own understanding. In all their ways they acknowledged Him, and He directed their paths. 11 I stood at the pulpit, and with tear-filled eyes and a voice choked with emotion, I made a promise to the people: “If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.”
That night as I realized what I had promised, I dropped to my knees and prayed: “Heavenly Father, I’m on Thy errand; this is Thy Church. I have spoken words that came not from me, but from Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou, therefore, fulfill the promise in the lives of this noble people.” There coursed through my mind the words from the psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God.” 12 The heavenly virtue of patience was required.

All of these things were eventually fulfilled although I am sure not as quickly as what the saints would of wanted but I really admire what President Monson did after making a promise to the people. He offered a prayer to God. The ability we have to communicate directly with our heavenly father is a gift never to be taken lightly and in light of our needing to receive things line upon line in the Lord’s timing prayer can be that balm in gilead as wait.
Now When the bishopric assigned this talk they asked me to consider this topic of line upon line from a perspective of what and how we are to endure.  Endurance is such an interesting topic and whether it is in a gospel or a physical activity like running I think patience is always related. Preach my gospel connects these phrases by defining patience as
The capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith—you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.
As someone who deals with chronic anxiety I am the first to respond defensively or get discouraged by this statement-I think I will never develop this kind of patience.
But I think another point related to our receiving things line upon line has to do with receiving revelation little by little on what we can and should be doing. Elder Bednar’s example of receiving revelation by a sunrise versus a light switch seems appropriate. Rarely do we have experiences that suddenly reveal a ton of information planning out our whole life-most of the time we experience revelation little by little the way the sun comes up in the morning. This line upon line idea that we gradually get more till we have created a beautiful life.
In whatever element of live we might be able to only work on one or two of these sub topics of patience-that is the line upon line part. The endurance element means that once I master those few things I will move onto rest. Ultimately developing, in this example, the Christlike attribute of Patience.
I want to share my experience I have had since movinghere. For the first time I home full time with my boys. Up till this point I have been a full or part time student also working part time at different point but now that I am home fully with them it has been an adjustment. I hope my saying that is an adjustment doesn’t mean I am not loving it because it is the best thing in the world. But, I will not lie that I am not loving the PhD schedule of 10 hour days on campus and then homework after dinner for my husband. With him being gone so much I have found on some days it is harder than others and I have found a whole new respect for single parents. How I have tried to make the adjustment a little easier has been through the scriptures. An obvious but sure way I know God often speaks to me.
Now, I have always known on the days I read my scriptures my days go better but I had an epiphany about why. When the Mr is is gone for so long most days by 3:00 I am done, Frazzled, worn out, patience wearing thin.
 Now the days vary, and sometimes I feel this way by 9 am but when I have read my scriptures come those really hard times I have found if I simply stop to say a prayer The lord gets me through on His strength for the rest of the day. This is where Savior comes into the picture. Up until this point I have only talked about the relationship I have my loving heavenly father but the mediator between the two of us is the Savior. When God reveals what I think is too much I pray for the strength of a Savior whose atonement makes it possible to measure up to the assignment given. In the example of my experiences as a mom feeling like it is too much all I have to do is rely on the savior’s atonement and know he will get me through the rest of the day. This can be applied to any struggle, trial, responsibility or assignment. We do as much as we can do and then turn it over to the Lord.
This does not negate my responsibility to work hard to endure this trial of graduate student life but, we felt impressed for our family to come to grad school and can trust God will help us on our new path.  I might add My new motto has become.
I know that I can’t do it all but I also love that I can do a lot of it most of the time. To apply this scripture of line upon line even more we can’t expect to receive the “next line of revelation” if we haven’t worked on or mastered the revelation we have already received.
I want to share another experience I had as a teenager in high school. Due to certain circumstances I was suffering at the hand of another I often felt discouraged and overwhelmed. I remember being angry for awhile but one day I was tired of being mad at a situation I couldn’t control anyways and decided to experiment on the gospel.
 I had “gained a testimony” and felt of God’s love but found when I was in these trials I doubted in the dark what I knew in the light. So one evening when I was discouraged I had the thought to put on the DVD Special Witnesses of Christ. Now I could of ignored that line upon line revelation/impression but I am so grateful I didn’t.  I started to watch and was instantly reminded of what I knew to be true. I was changed by the spirit and the testimony of these special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
From then on I carried a copy of the DVD in my backpack (I might add I did this through college) and while I still watched it often it became more of a meaningful/symbolic reminder. I was able to learn from an early age that Satan could never take away what I knew to be true- He could never take away my testimony and often that was all I had to cling to as I could not change my circumstance.
That being said I am sure you can imagine how much I have come to love the prophet and the apostles and I look forward to Conference almost as much as I do Christmas Morning. The doctrine and covenants talk about the special witness the brethren bear as they lead and guide his church and I promise it is a very real gift.
General Conference is yet another way we can receive revelation line upon line.
I also might add I have had a few experiences meeting with some of the general relief society, young womens, and primary presidencies and they bear the same mantle.  I want to share one more experience I had with the recently called general Relief Society President Sister Burton. Like my husband mentioned we were at BYU before we came here and like the typical student family we lived in wymount student housing. We had been told Sister Burton was coming to speak to just our stake and the number of people attending didn’t even fill up the overflow.
It was after her first talk in conference on first observing then serving. I do not remember exactly what she spoke on but I do remember the opportunity she gave for a Q&A session at the end.
She spoke of the hardships of young student families and empathized with us. She invited whoever felt impressed to get up and share things they were doing to help find peace and happiness in this stage of life. The meeting went 45 minutes over but was such a unifying experience. We felt one in purpose and spirit and it wasn’t till I got home That I realized Sister Burton had done exactly what she had preached the previous conference. She was taking time to observe us as we shared experiences and then she served us as she acted the mediator of the meeting. The mantle she bore was evident and I knew she was there to help us as if the Savior was there himself.
Now I recognize that this was an incredibly neat experience that often only happens in Utah because that is where most of the Church leadership lives but I know that those experiences can be had at general conference if we let it.  On the church website there is a new page dedicated with resources available to help prepare for general conference. Some suggestions include coming with questions about your own personal life you want answered, not dismissing messages because they sound familiar, and that conference can and should be a compass for the next few months of our lives.
  I am grateful that we can receive things line upon line and know that 2 of the tools those messages are revealed through ARE, through ancient and modern scripture. I am grateful and know the Book of Mormon and Bible to be true and incredibly helpful books in life.
I also know that modern prophets and apostles have been called today and bear a unique calling of testifying of the Savior. I am grateful for their witness and add my own simple testimony. I know my Savior lives. I know he conquered sin and death and that his church is once again upon the earth. I am grateful for the restoration and for the Temples and the ordinances that are now available for all. I know my loving Heavenly Father loves all of his children and is watching and helping us a long the way because he loves us. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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