Monday, May 25, 2015

Farewell Sunday!

Lars gave an amazing talk in his student ward before he left for his mission.  Many of his friends were able to attend and hear his words of wisdom. For those of you who were unable to attend, here is his written talk.

I'd like to start by sharing a story Elder L. Tom Perry shared with us last year during General Conference. "When I was growing up, I had a special relationship with my grandfather. I was the oldest son in the family. I removed the snow from the walks in the winter and cared for the lawns in the summer for our home, Grandfather’s home, and the homes of my two aunts. Grandfather usually sat on the front porch as I mowed his lawn. When I had finished, I would sit on the front steps and visit with him. Those moments are treasured memories for me.

One day I asked my grandfather how I would know if I was always doing the right thing, given that life presents so many choices. As my grandfather usually did, he answered me with an experience from farm life.

He taught me about breaking in a team of horses so that they would work together. He explained that a team of horses must always know who is in charge. One of the keys to asserting control and directing a horse is a harness and bit. If a member of the team ever believes that it does not need to obey the will of the driver, the team will never pull and work together to maximize their ability."

I have two questions for you to think about right now. Who is the driver? Who is the harness and bit?

The driver is someone who knows us best, someone who has a plan and a purpose for each of us. He's the person in our lives who has helped train us and helped us build. For me, my driver is my Savior. The one who knows me inside and out. And often like a horse, I don't know what's best for me, so I must be obedient and follow the Savior's guide.

Back to the second question. Who is the harness and bit? For those who don't know, the bit is a small piece of metal or other material that sits in the horse's mouth behind the teeth. Often very little force is required when both the bit and harness are in place to move the horse side to side or bring it to a stop. Who in our lives uses little force to nudge us in the right directions? The harness and bit and these gentle tugs are the still small voice in our lives, the Holy Ghost. Through the still small voice our Driver, the Savior, can lead us in the right direction. We must always be ready to be obedient to our Savior and be looking and feeling for those little tugs in our lives.  Often, as in my life, these little tugs add up and turn us completely around.

For those of you that don't know, I have recently been called to serve in the Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission and could not be more excited. I am excited to be able to have the spirit by my side always and be able to feel those gentle tugs and be obedient while I am laboring for and with the Lord. Sometimes obedience is going to do something. Going to do a physical action. Going to church, paying our tithing, attending the temple regularly. But often times this obedience is spiritual. Spiritual obedience requires an absolute faith in our driver because He knows what is best for us.

I think of the story of Abraham and Isaac. The amount of trust and faith Abraham had to obey the Lord with exactness must have been tremendous. If we turn to D&C 130:18-21, we read, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." Which, there's you next study hint to get you ahead on your next test or exam. Because who doesn't need a little extra help. Sorry back on track. By obeying the Lord's commandments, Abraham was blessed. His posterity is numerous. His seed is blessed with the ability to have the priesthood and receive the gospel, through the ministry of his seed, "all the families of the earth [would] be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal" (Abraham 2:11)

I also think of Nephi and his brothers in the third chapter of first Nephi. They were commanded to go and get the plates from Laban. None of them knew how, but Nephi knew that if he went and did the thing that was commanded of him, the Lord would provide a way. While going to get the plates may be a daunting task to us, the Lord views each and every one of his commandments as equal and requires exact obedience from each of us.

Obedience to each of us is a different struggle. While one of us might have issues with sacrament meeting attendance, others might struggle with tithing of saying our prayers consistently. We can even think back to Elder Perry's younger years. Obedience to him might have been easier and very different. We have so many distractions in our lives now a days that easily allow us to not feel the gentle tug of the harness and bit and be obedient to the Driver in our life. We can look to Christ as the ultimate example of one who is obedient and showed His love to His father. He cam to do His father's will, not His own. In John 14:21 we read, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Being obedient is the greatest way to show our love.

I'd like to finish with one of my favorite quotes from Elder Perry's talk. "Too often we think of obedience as the passive and thoughtless following of the orders or dictates of a higher authority. Actually, at its best, obedience is an emblem of our faith in the wisdom and power of the highest authority, even God. When Abraham demonstrated his unwavering faithfulness and obedience to God, even when commanded to sacrifice his son, God rescued him. Similarly, when we demonstrate our faithfulness through obedience, God will ultimately rescue us."

"Those who rely solely on themselves and follow only their own desires and self-inclinations are so limited when compared to those who follow God and tap into His insight, power, and gifts. It has been said that someone who is all wrapped up in himself or herself makes a very small package. Strong, proactive obedience is anything but weak or passive. It is the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven. Obedience is a choice. It is a choice between our own limited knowledge and power and God’s unlimited wisdom and omnipotence."

I know the church is true. I love my family and close friends and thank them for the example.