Thursday, October 24, 2013

We Are As the Army of Helaman

I remember when I first entered the MTC (Missionary Training Center), I wondered why it was so hard for me.  I enjoyed it, but it was hard.  Everybody else seemed to be so carefree.  I even asked other missionaries if it was hard for them, and they said it wasn't.  I thought I was doing something wrong, so I worked and prayed harder.

At the following devotional, Elder Jeffery R. Holland spoke to all of the missionaries.  I can't find his talk written anywhere, but essentially he told us very firmly that our missions should be hard if we're working hard.  He reminded us that the difficulty of the way is because the work we are doing is of such great value.

At the end of my two month time at the MTC, I was asked to speak at the farewell meeting.  I bore my testimony to the hundreds of missionaries who would be entering the mission field... all across the world.  I believe God allowed my experience to be hard, so I could search deeper for a stronger testimony and a stronger, more spiritual resolve in my missionary work.

I said a few weeks ago that I would be reporting on my increased scripture study.  Those first few days after reading, the reward in my soul was so great and so immediate that I made a commitment to God in prayer to never go back to casual reading again.  Then as the days continued on, the miracle of joy in my soul from my scripture study seemed harder to access.  I had to ponder longer and deeper each time.

Two sweet sisters left comments yesterday that confirmed this concept in my mind:

*One quoted Elder Holland:  "If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart.  So it has been with the best people who ever lived."

We are not alone if it gets HARDER when we try harder.  I bear testimony that it is worth it.

I thought that with increased scripture study, I would be singing all the day long.  Since I have increased my scripture study, I have felt a depressing force overwhelm me when I first wake up.  I work very hard to push past those feelings.  It's actually easier to wallow in them; but instead I struggle through them and fight them with prayer and scripture study.  When I get to my scriptures, I read and reread my first few verses in the scriptures several times because it takes several tries to push away the other forces and accept the peace God is offering.  After an intense struggle, I am able to live my life!!

*Back to the comments that were inspired to write on my blog.

The second sister wrote:  "Doubt not!!!  You know who is wanting you to!"

(I wish you could have heard my husband giving his "Amens" to that one.)

Just this morning in my scripture study, this concept was confirmed in The Book of Mormon in Alma 57:26.   Previous to this verse, the scriptures tell of 2060 very young, stripling warriors who were taught by their mothers and fought under the direction of Helaman to be obedient and valiant.  They fought in a battle in defense of their religion, their families, and their rights.  They fought with and against grown men.

Here's the verse:

"And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea that they should be spared while there was  a thousand of our brethren who were slain.  And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe- that there was a just God, and whosoever did not DOUBT, that they should be preserved by his marvelous. power."

I am certain the battle was harder than these young warriors ever imagined.  I am certain that as they approached their enemy, they appeared bigger than they expected.  I am even more certain that they did not DOUBT their ability to conquer their enemy because they had complete faith in God.  I am 100% certain that they saw that their increased, harder efforts were difficult but worth it- especially when they returned to their families having saved their families from the hands of their enemies.

Yes!  It is worth it to push away the negativity... to try harder even if it means that for a time the adversary may try to stop us.  When the adversary strikes harder, that just means we are moving in the right direction... a direction the adversary doesn't like... a direction that brings the greatest peace, joy, strength, and knowledge that can be found in no other way.

The difficulty of the way is a miracle to me that we are fighting a worthy battle for God.  We are not always on the battlegrounds, but we are always on guard with scriptures in hand. The fact that we are fighting through the frustrations is a grand victory and a grand miracle in our lives.  We are as the army of Helaman- those young, stripling warriors.