LOIS’ POST: These last 18 months posting on our blog have brought many surprising blessings. Initially it took courage to open up our most sacred, personal feelings for public viewing. We appreciate your respectful feedback and encouraging comments. We are pleased to note that our modest posts have been read in 78 countries throughout the world. THANK YOU. As we complete our 18-month blogging goal, we hand the baton to our 21-year-old granddaughter, Madeline Dunn. We invite you to continue to visit the website, Reasons to Rejoice, as she expresses uplifting insights from her youthful perspective. As my final post, I want to share a simple statement of truth: Jesus Christ’s Plan of Salvation answers these deep questions of the soul: (1) Who am I? (2) Where did I come from? (3) What is my purpose on earth? (4) Where will I go after death? http://www.mormon.org/ This plan explains how we can be happy in this life and return to God’s presence, and how to grow up to become like Him. The Lord forgives my sins, recreates my nature, promises resurrection after death, and qualifies me for glory hereafter. He assures that all things wrong in the world will one day be made right. He promises His faithful followers a fullness of joy. That is the capstone of my REASONS TO REJOICE. “Rejoice, O my heart…I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (2 Nephi 4:30).
ALAN’S POST: As I look back over the past 18 months that my wife and I have posted on our website, “Reasons to Rejoice,” I have experienced great joy in exploring and sharing my deepest convictions. I have rediscovered and reinforced countless reasons to rejoice in my life. I am grateful for you, our readers, who have perused these posts three times per week. We now find it timely to shift our attention to specific genealogy and family history goals. As a parting offering, I want to share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of God’s marvelous Plan of Salvation for His beloved children. We left our heavenly home in order to come to earth and learn by experience. Heavenly Father knew that we would inevitably make mistakes, so He provided a Savior for us, who would atone for these errors. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and be sanctified. We are enabled through His power to progress eternally, to eventually become as He is. The scriptures and words of living prophets provide a roadmap to keep our feet on the right path. Through covenant making and covenant keeping, we are assured of joy in this life and forever. My hope is that you have been edified by reading our posts and will find future installments equally uplifting. I pray that the Lord’s choice blessings will be with you and your families. Until we meet again, we bid you ado.
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!
Have you ever winced with regret at a poor choice—something you should not have said or something you should not have done? Or have you ever neglected to do something that impaired your spiritual growth and peace? Certainly we all have. The good news is that because of Jesus Christ’s infinite Atonement, He made it possible to follow the pathway of complete repentance. Repentance is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness. Repentance is more than just acknowledging wrongdoings; it is a change of heart and mind. It is turning to God. One of my favorite verses of scripture is the Lord’s promise that, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is designed to nourish, sanctify, and heal the imperfect soul. The Church is filled with people who are trying to keep the commandments, but haven’t mastered them yet. “If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed. But if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of God ‘which healeth the wounded soul,’ and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here you will find them. In this age of waning faith—in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven’s embrace, here you will find a people who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf).
“Strike one…Strike two…Strike three—you’re OUT!” bellowed the umpire. I watched as the dejected batter slung away his bat, slumped onto the dugout bench, and buried his face in his hands. In spite of his best effort and most powerful swing, he lost the game for his team because of a slight error of visual judgment. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who has made provision for my inevitable errors in mortality through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Those words, “You’re OUT” are never spoken to God’s children. Through repentance and an earnest desire to do better, we are given a clean slate to try again. “How merciful is our God unto us…He stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long…As many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (Jacob 6:4). God is patient and long-suffering. He gives me multiple chances to turn and come back when I make a mistake. “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). No matter what challenges or disappointments are tossed in my path, no matter how many times I stumble along on my mortal journey, I promise to get back up and try again. Nelson Mandela said that “a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” I trust that Christ’s atoning power will cleanse and empower me.
Before lighthouses were built, legend claims that friends built large fires along the coastline to guide sailors safely to shore. In the dark of night, these signals warned of shallow water that might sink their ships if ventured too close. Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world. If we fix our gaze on Him and follow His teachings, we will be guided to the harbor of spiritual safety. The words of a favorite hymn further describe this beautiful metaphor: “Brightly beams our Father’s mercy, from His lighthouse evermore; but to us He gives the keeping, of the lights along the shore. Let the lower lights be burning; send a gleam across the wave. Some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.” The Lord has provided a way back to Him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “Look for the lighthouse of the Lord. There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what its beacon light can rescue. It beckons through the storms of life. It calls: This way to safety. This way to home” (Thomas S. Monson). I am grateful for our Redeemer who rescues me as I follow His light.
While listening to general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I wrote copious notes and jotted spiritual impressions in the margins. I sang with joy during congregational singing. I even shed tears when the last speaker finished and the Prophet closed the session for another 6 months. But even though the messages resonated profoundly in my soul, the intensity of that experience fades as I jump back on my treadmill of busyness. Elder Russell M. Nelson posed a solution—to ask and answer this question: Because of what I have heard and felt [during the conference], how will I change? It’s not enough to hear, feel and rejoice for two uplifting days. I need to act upon what I hear and feel. I want to be a better person for this spiritual infusion. I want to change in some way. So, after reviewing my notes and pondering, I wrote a page in my journal of ways I will change as a result of this experience. I will review this page often to remember. I feel the change already beginning. “In conferences we can receive the word of the Lord meant just for us…What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel…We gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them” (Robert D. Hales).
Here’s a good question to ask yourself: What sacrifices have I been asked to make in my religion? I believe that a religion that does not require effort and sacrifice—doesn’t produce faith, refinement, and spiritual growth in its members. We understand this principle in other areas. For example, if I work hard and save money to pay for my college tuition, I will apply myself with greater diligence and appreciation. And how absurd it would be to ask a physical trainer to help me develop bulging biceps and total body fitness without performing strenuous exercise? The principle of sacrifice and reward has application in every dimension of our lives. It applies to religion too. If it doesn’t pinch, it isn’t a sacrifice. Here are some sacrifices I’m striving to make. I am imperfect, but I will never give up trying.
- Resist forbidden things.
- Study scriptures daily.
- Pray morning and night (and in between).
- Obey commandments.
- Minister and serve others, even when it’s inconvenient.
- Prioritize marriage and family as number one—to love, teach and minister.
- Cherish the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Fast and pay tithing.
- Repent when I make mistakes and strive to improve.
- Stand as a witness for truth.
- Treat others kindly even when mistreated. Forgive freely.
- Learn to love with compassion and courtesy.
Note the ACTION WORDS: Resist, study, pray, obey, minister, serve, prioritize, cherish, repent, stand, learn, love, forgive.