"With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you."
I find it particularly interesting, the way Elder Holland explains through this article, our relationship with God, but also the adversary. I know that God knows me. He knows my strengths, he knows my weaknesses. He knows the intents of my heart. He knows my doubts and my fears. And frankly, the adversary knows as well.
This is frustrating, and at times completely.. UNFAIR. That God can provide me (or you) with this profound spiritual experience, where you just KNOW, you know who you are, what you want, where you're going. You feel absolutely sure, and so at peace with your life and your decisions. But nearly EVERYTIME, not long after these experiences, you walk right back into the everyday 'routine' of your life and the adversary begins to take his toll. He taunts you, places doubts in the back of your mind. You begin to feel like your at battle with your own self. Should I do this? Should I not? Is this really what I want? Your confidence wavers. And why? It felt so right before-
"There is a lesson in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision which virtually every Latter-day Saint has had occasion to experience, or one day soon will. It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our lives.
In that marvelous account which we read too seldom, Joseph said he had scarcely begun his prayer when he felt a power of astonishing influence come over him. “Thick darkness,” as he described it, gathered around him and seemed bent on his utter destruction. But he exerted all his powers to call upon God to deliver him out of the power of this enemy, and as he did so a pillar of light brighter than the noonday sun descended gradually until it rested upon him. At the very moment of the light’s appearance, he found himself delivered from the destructive power which had held him bound. What then followed is the greatest epiphany since the events surrounding the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ in the meridian of time. The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and the dispensation of the fullness of times had begun." (Holland)
I remember a few years back, I had the opportunity to listen to my bishop, who I am fortunate enough to call my dad, teach a discussion on this very thing. He began by talking about our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ.. How they know us and love us. Then continuing to teach something that had never before occurred to me, he said "I believe it is just as important to realize the influence of the adversary, who wants to discourage us, and whose soul purpose is to make us miserable like unto himself." I think that was the first time I had ever really realized that, or put two and two together. That all thoughts of discouragement, fear, doubt and inadequacy came from him, the one figure who wants us all to be as miserable as he is.
Yeah I’ll be the first to admit, that freaks me the heck out. So there I said it.
And I’ll admit I was stunned when this all occurred to me like.. WHAT? But why? Why would a loving Heavenly Father LET this happen? If he has all power and control, if he can move mountains… why would he leave us here to be brought down and diminished by the adversary who is in opposition to everything good? And while we’re on the subject, why is there war? Why is there famine? Why do the innocent die young? Why are people unhappy? Why is there divorce? Why is there murder? Why is there pride and theft? Why is there people taking their own life’s because they believe this world is not meant for them? Why do we feel alone? There are a lot of whys, and a lot of people who believe these questions are unanswered, or simply do not believe there is a loving and caring God.
And that’s where we can apply everything, literally everything that the gospel teaches.
The Plan of Happiness
Eternal Families, Eternal Marriage
Covenants & Standards
Scriptures & Revelation
Our loving Heavenly Father, our God, sent us to this earth, as we AGREED before we came to be tested and to be tried. To learn and to grow, but only with the use of our AGENCY could this ever be accomplished. He set up a plan, of salvation a plan of happiness for US to return to him through the use of the Atonement, when Christ was sent to suffer for the sins of the world. We can follow his example through repentance and baptism, and by enduring to the end. By keeping and following all covenants and standards to the best of our abilities and being sealed through temple work, so we can live with our families and spouses because of the promises given to us, when we return home to that heavenly father who created us.
So there, is the gospel in a nut shell, it is a lot to take in. And that all hit me at once. But what touched me the most was the simple fact that we can all hold onto, that we are not alone. We are never alone.
“God will provide the means and power to achieve his purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, He will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church or raising a family, of going on a mission, or any one of a hundred other worthy tasks in life. God’s grace is sufficient! The Lord would tell Joseph again and again that just as in days of old the children of Israel would be “led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. … Therefore, let not your hearts faint. … Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.”
What goodly land? Well, your goodly land. Your promised land. Your new Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny. I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what His plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us and to know that He loves us beyond mortal comprehension. I also believe that the adversary and his pinched, calculating little minions try to oppose such experiences and then try to darken them after they happen. But that is not the way of the gospel. That is not the way of a Latter-day Saint who claims as the fundamental fact of the Restoration the spirit of revelation. Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going. With Paul, I say to all of you:
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
“Fear ye not.” And when the second and third and fourth blows come, “fear ye not. … The Lord shall fight for you.” 16 Cast not away therefore your confidence.” (Holland)
(full article in link)
Before I end this post, I just want to share my complete agreement with Elder Holland, and all of his insight shared in this article/talk. I know, now more than ever, and without a doubt that The Church of Jesus Christ is absolutely true. We are human, we have our faults and we are most definitely NOT perfect. But the gospel is perfect, and through it we may become perfect, and it is completely our choice. I am so grateful and blessed for the people in my life. The examples i have. From my parents, church leaders and friends. To the example of before prophets and leaders such as Joseph Smith. I know he restored the gospel to this earth, and i know that like him i can overcome anything that is thrown my way! And what a miracle that is in itself! I love the simplicity of the church and its teachings. It brings so much peace to my heart. I cannot wait to share it with anyone and everyone who is willing to listen and take in the happiness the gospel brings. I hope and pray that the Lord is preparing the hearts of the people that i will meet, and whether it be by fate or coincidence or an accidental occurrence, i hope the lord brings people out of their way to find missionaries who can help them along there way with the power of the spirit, and that they will find everything they are searching for.
"He whose name this church bears has promised that He will be in our midst, lead us along, go before us, and even fight our battles. He has further counseled, 'be not afraid of your enemies, for i have decreed in my heart... that i will prove hou in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy." (d&c 98:14) -Elder Neal A. Maxwell
The church is true. Love you all. I can't wait to be a full time missionary, I know, anything is possible with the lord on my side.