As preparing for my talk I did what any young adult would do…and googled my topic. One of the top results was a talk given by M. Russell Ballard on member missionary work. In it he said: On the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Lovest thou me?” Each time Peter’s reply was the same: “Thou knowest that I love thee.” And each time the Savior instructed Peter: “Feed my lambs…feed my sheep.” When I first read the title I thought “This doesn’t apply to me.” It wasn’t until I continued reading and found this scripture that I remember what first got me started on thinking about a mission. A mission was never in my plan, but being a member missionary was especially after reading this quote from Brigham Young in my studies of Preach My Gospel:
“There is neither man or woman in this Church who is not on a mission. That mission will last as long as they live, and it is to do good. To promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth, and to prevail upon themselves and everybody around them to live those principles that they may obtain eternal life.”
About two years ago we were challenged to study Preach My Gospel. I wanted to do it right. It is in simple straight forward terms, much easier to read than the Bible so I wanted to take all the extra energy I would have normally spent decoding what that verse actually meant, to infuse the message into my soul. I had a highlighter with pink, blue, and yellow corners and would use each color to mark: the things that applied to me, references, and things missionaries ought to teach (I’ll admit I did the last one reluctantly, because that was admitting there was a chance that I may actually go on a mission. BUT I told myself, this was Preach My Gospel so it really was intended for missionaries so just because I would highlight the things that said “try teaching” did not mean that I would be going on a mission). In my new fervor to become a member missionary I ignited a new love for my Heavenly Father, His Son, and the gospel; I had never before experienced.
My new found love for my Savior seemed to increase exponentially as my desire to serve grew. It started when I stopped listen to music while getting ready in the mornings, instead listening to the Book of Mormon. Looking back through my journal, though it seemed like a small change, my entries grew more positive. There was hardly an entry where I wasn’t gushing over how blessed I was and how much I loved my life. I experienced a greater love not only for my life, but the people in it. I began to catch glimpses of people the way the Lord must see them. I feel my Savior’s love so much more potently in the temple than anywhere else. The temple became my safe haven. Whenever I was having a difficult day or feeling lonely I ran to the temple, desperate to feel my Heavenly Father’s love for me. And feel it I did!
The apostle John was not only loved by the Lord, but also loved others like the Lord, confirming when he said “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I believe that this scripture can not only apply to laying down your life for your brethren, but also in setting aside time for them. Whether it is a few stolen moments playing princess with a little sister, a walk with a friend, late night talks with your parents, or yes, even laying aside 18 months or two years of your time to give to people you have never met, but whom Heavenly Father and our Savior love dearly. People who have not yet had the opportunity to hear or accept the gospel, but are our brothers and sisters waiting.
What more love could the Savior have shown, when presented in the temple with an adulteress to judge, but forgave her instead? Not only did He forgive her but he made it impossible for those present to torment her any longer when he said “Him that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone”. Her palms must have been sweaty, her heart pumping for the judgment of the Christ to come upon her. Instead he showed her mercy, gaining an eternally loyal follower. And in Gethsemane when he bled from every pore weeping in agony to atone for my sins, asking humbly, if possible for his Father to ease his burden and to remove this cup from Him. But he continued for our sakes, to give us the gift of eternal life with him. Or after being forced to carry his own cross, forced with a crown of thorns upon his head, to travel through a crowd of his own people, some whom I am sure he had healed, whom he had loved, and they spit upon him, reviling him. But he continued to plead with the Father even upon his cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” sealing his sacrifice with his life.
One story I love goes something like this:
I also want to talk about another’s love whose we all honor today. The love of our fathers. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Heavenly Father gave his son. He let him suffer so that we could all return to him in everlasting glory. He turned his ear while the Savior was in Gethsemane because this was one burden our Lord would have to bear alone. I believe this is one of the greatest examples of love in the whole scriptures. Here on earth we have our fathers exemplifying the love that our Father in Heaven has for us and making our celestial parents seem not so distant. I’m sure we all have many fathers we can thank today, if not through words than just with a hug, because their love does mean a tremendous amount.
The love of and for our Savior is essential, not only in missionary work but in our daily lives. One of my favorite professors in college taught a leadership course for the students in the leadership program at UVU. He had little time left for students as he was rather high up in the food chain at UVU, but he showed love for his students every day in knowing about our personal lives and interests. Because he loved his students, we all loved him back in return. We took the principles we learned in his class and loved them because he loved them. We applied them in our lives, because he applied them in his life. So it is with anything that we value. If we value a person, because they are them, they will love us and be more apt to listen to the things that we would set out to teach them. In my leadership class we learned many different theories of leadership and I can say without a doubt the Jesus Christ was the ultimate leader. He was a transformational leader, focused on his mission and purpose. One of my favorite songs fittingly says this of Christ: “Nations fall behind him, the rivers crawl to find him, mountains move, just to let him through. Come and never leave him. Just let your heart believe him. And never let his light go, never let his love grow dim.”