As a child of God, my purpose on earth is to grow up in the Lord. “The purpose of life for man is growth, just as the purpose of life for trees and plants is growth. Trees and plants grow automatically and along fixed lines; man can grow as he will…Man is formed for growth, and he is under the necessity of growing” (Wallace D. Wattles). My ultimate goal is to attain the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father, and to receive His fullness and glory. But I cannot expect to inherit all that the Father has without paying the price. What is the price? It is: 1) Having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; 2) Repenting of sins and mistakes continually; 3) Following the example of the Savior by being baptized by immersion from one having priesthood authority; 4) Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost; 5) Keeping God’s commandments and enduring to the end in faithfulness to the covenants I have made. But making these initial choices is not enough. I must stay in covenant. I must choose on an ongoing basis to remain, which will be reflected in how much I love and what I seek on a daily basis. Being a faithful follower of Christ is a small price to pay for the unfathomable blessings He promises. He promises a fullness of joy. A fullness of joy means that I cannot possibly experience more joy. This is eternal life, or life as God lives—which is the greatest gift of God. This gives me the greatest Reasons to Rejoice!
Who likes to WAIT? “Waiting” recalls exasperating images of standing in a long queue at the post office or returning an item at Walmart. But I’ve been thinking about a different kind—a good kind of waiting spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “I will wait upon the Lord” (Isaiah 8:17). Making this verse personally relevant, I ask—What does it mean to WAIT upon the Lord? (1) I will wait upon the Lord like a server “waits” on a table in a restaurant. The server vigilantly watches the needs of his guests. When water glasses need refilling, he quickly steps up with a pitcher. He delivers piping hot food and clears away empty dishes afterward. He watches and attends his guests’ every need. I can WAIT upon the Lord by vigilantly observing and attending the needs of those around me. Waiting upon the Lord is to serve His children. (2) Waiting can also mean patience. The Lord’s answers come in His perfect timing, not always immediately. But I know that God loves me. He knows what is best for my growth and development better than I do. He is shaping me to become like Him. I am learning to trust His curriculum and His perfect love. I will WAIT upon the Lord in quiet service to others, and I will WAIT in patience for answers to my prayers.
What instruction do you think we received when leaving our heavenly home before beginning our sojourn here on earth? I would like to think we had specific instruction about the role agency would play in our earthly life. Even though we would not remember that instruction, due to the veil of forgetfulness, I believe it is easily recognized when asked what is agency? Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27). “Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws” (L Tom Perry). Does the phrase “obedience to law is liberty” ring true in all of us now? I hope that the choices we make in exercising our agency will lead us toward the Savior and His eternal happiness.
Why is it so hard to notice our own spiritual progress? The reason: The effects are gradual and difficult to observe from day to day. For example, if I look at a photo taken of myself many years ago, I would notice a big difference as compared to now. But when I look in the mirror each morning getting ready for the day, I can’t see the subtle changes taking place. They aren’t obvious in 24-hour increments. I think that’s how it is with spiritual change. As I strive to keep the commandments, such as making time for scripture study, church and temple worship, offering kindness and service to others, change is happening even when I’m not aware of it. One way to observe this transformation is to keep a journal describing goals, challenges, and victories along the way. It’s like a photograph which can be viewed and reviewed. As I read entries from the past, I can see little signs of improvement. Some things I once struggled with have been conquered, and goals set years ago have been reached. Change is still subtle, and of course there are occasional setbacks and relapses. But as I yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the Lord helps me put off the “natural man” little by little, step by step. God is in the process of recreating my nature to become like Him. I can see it and feel it. I feel progress like wind in my hair. This is a Reason to Rejoice!
Who are the unpaid volunteers who spend at least two days per week plus one full week of their vacation time each summer teaching boys to be prepared? Hats off to Boy Scout leaders who give a tremendous amount of time nurturing, teaching, and leading our impressionable young men. Our grandson is at camp this week with leaders who have sacrificed much in order to head into the hills with packs and supplies on their backs heavy enough for a mule—to train and tutor a group of energetic boys. These valiant leaders slog through mud and erect tents, sleep on rocky ground, and teach survival skills while exemplifying an upbeat and cheerful attitude. They train their scouts to perform a wide variety of skills. They model virtues of character. They responsibly protect their young charges. The boys look up to their leaders and want to be like them. As a father and grandfather of scouts, I place my beloved ones into their capable care. It is a comfort to know that these leaders are men of virtue and goodness. I never want this to change. As one who has been a Boy Scout, served as a leader, and supported the organization financially, I know something of the sacrifice and hard work that goes into making the scouting experience a benefit to young men. I have great appreciation for these unselfish leaders who teach and model what it means to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
“Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn” (Isaiah 51:1). What does this mean to you? When I think of the word, “hewn” I think of a statue emerging from a block of beautiful marble after the master artisan has laboriously chipped away with sharp tools to create a likeness. Along with all of God’s children, I am “hewn” from divine parentage as a beloved child of God. He is shaping me to be in His likeness. The word “Rock” is often used in the scriptures to represent the Savior Jesus Christ. He is what I strive to become. I have taken upon myself His holy name in covenant, and have pledged to always remember Him. In another respect, I am also “hewn” from beloved earthly parents and ancestors. I want to carry on their legacy of courage and faith. I live in a confused world when it comes to identity. Many people look to find themselves in the wrong places. The right place to find one’s real identity is from God, as His beloved child. Real identity comes from recognizing our divine heritage and purpose. These words from a favorite child’s hymn relate to adults as well: “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me; help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday.” Isaiah’s words, “Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn” remind me of who I am and whose I am.
When teens graduate from high school and leave home to taste independence, they enter the dangerous decade of young adulthood. In the thrill of freedom, they often explore forbidden paths which lead to destructive behaviors, habits, and detours. By contrast, what parent could want more than to hear the following words from a son or daughter during these critical years? Here is a short extract from a long list of lessons learned from our oldest grandchild who recently returned from her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was hard work. She said she is not the same person that she was 18 months ago.
- I have learned why we need opposition and the trial of our faith.
- I have learned the important role of the Holy Ghost, and why I never want to live without the guidance of the Spirit.
- I have learned the importance of family and what I want my future family to be.
- I have learned what it means to truly love people.
- I have learned that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite and intimate.
- I have learned what Heavenly Father can accomplish through 19 and 20 year- old men and women.
- I think the greatest change in me is that I can say with confidence that I know the truths of the gospel for myself.
- There is a certain peace and joy that comes when you know the truth. It comes from the Savior. That is what continually motivated me to wake up every day with excitement to share it with others.
- I have learned that I have great reason to rejoice!
It is inspiration from God to send missionaries of young adult age to spread the good news of the gospel worldwide. In the process of blessing others, these young adults are shaped in magnificent ways. I am a grandmother with great Reasons to Rejoice!