Today in our sacrament meeting in St. George, Utah our missionaries currently serving were asked to write a letter home about becoming spiritually self reliant and a family member read it in sacrament. It was an amazing meeting filled with the spirit.
This is what Madison wrote home...
I don't know how Brother Hutchings expects me to answer this question in under five minutes. All I can say is… Lucky reader …READ FAST.
(Bonnie L. Oscarson)
"You have the primary responsibility for your own conversion. No one can be converted for you, and no one can force you to become converted."
Looking back I think the first time I really thought about the importance of being spiritually self reliant is when I was twelve years old. I vividly remember I was in 6th grade and it was the last day of school before Christmas break. Everybody was excited for the holidays. I was twelve years old. My classmates and I rode the bus to school every morning at 7:30 am. It was cold and dark.
This particular morning there was a tragic accident. A 12 year old girl in my grade ran across the street while waiting for the school bus and was hit by another vehicle. A few hours into the school day the office announced over the speaker system into every classroom at Fossil Ridge that this young girl had passed away.
This was a devastation and a heartache to the entire school of 12-14 year old kids. At this point in my life I had never witnessed a passing of someone so young. And it didn't seem quite right.
I was so confused. Along with countless others. How is it that one day you see someones bright smiling face and the next day they're gone. It was then that I actually began thinking about the purpose of life. Questions arose such as... Why are we here? Where did we come from? And where are we going?
Fortunately I have wonderful parents who did then, and continue to now, teach me the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Which answers those questions. Answers about the Restoration of the church and Gods plan for us.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the commandments each provide comfort and peace as we listen to the teachings and follow them.
I'm so grateful my parents were able to share these lessons with me as a teenager. Many of us are blessed with this same council. Many of you here today have had either parents, friends, family or missionaries present these same lessons and gospel teachings to you in your own life. And you were able to feel their strong conversion to Christ’s Gospel.
This most likely has had a lasting influence on you. However, as wonderful as it was for me to have parents so willing to share THEIR conviction and testimony of the Gospel. I soon learned that it was critical that I gain my OWN testimony of Gods plan for his children. Otherwise, I was simply living off of borrowed light.
Douglas Callister said:
"Every individual must find out for himself. None can permanently endure on borrowed light." Likewise, with each of us we cannot endure on borrowed light. Each of us must become spiritually self reliant.
Throughout my life I have had wonderful opportunities to strengthen my own testimony. So that I may become truly converted to the Gospel. One of these opportunities has been the unique option to serve as a full time missionary.
Being a missionary gives you the chance to independently share YOUR own testimony and YOUR OWN conversion with those you serve. One of the most beneficial sources of knowledge for me has been reading the Book of Mormon.
As you study, ponder, read and pray you gain inspiration and answers and expand your knowledge to help build and sustain your own testimony. As you share your testimony you strengthen and solidify that conviction in your heart.
Becoming spiritually self reliant is a choice each must make for ourselves. In Octobers General Conference, Jorge Klebingat talked about Six Specific Practical Suggestions to Increase Our Spiritual Confidence.
#1 To take responsibility for your own spiritual well being. He said, “spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, daily.”
If you don't take responsibility for your spirituality who will? If you never act, how will you ever know? And if you never know, you will be left dwindling in confusion when trials, tribulation or questions arise.
None of us are exempt from these challenges life gives us. The difference is if we have a firm foundation and confidence that we are spiritually SELF RELIANT we won't have to endure it alone. We will see the eternal perspective and be able to not only help ourselves but help others too.
A few days ago a man asked me a particularly interesting question. We were teaching him and his girlfriend who is a member of the church. He was not incredibly interested, however he would sit through the lessons and make snarky remarks and sarcastic comments to frustrate the missionaries.
My companion and I bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and coming to know it was true for yourself. At the end of the lesson we asked his girlfriend to read the Book of Mormon. To which she responded, Yes!
We then looked at him and asked if he would read the Book of Mormon to which he non chalantly responded...
“Why would I want to?”
Slightly shocked, I looked the man straight in the eyes and said,
“that's a very good question. Why WOULD you want to read the Book of Mormon? That's something that we as missionaries can't give you an answer to. That is precisely something that YOU have to answer for yourself.
Why would you want to read the Book of Mormon?
What is it going to do for YOU?
What is the Gospel going to do for you?
Why would you want to learn about it?
What's the point right?”
He looked at me… kind of shocked and nodded.
To which we simply responded, “if you do not have the desire now, we challenge you to pray for that desire. To ask God WHY? Why learn about these things? About the scriptures? About your Savior? About the restored gospel? Why is it important?”
Because when you do, “God will answer you. And you will know It.
You will feel it and you will understand.”
It was an interesting lesson that did not quite go as I anticipated. But I took a very powerful lesson from it. And that question has stuck with me.
Why would I want to?
I have found myself reflecting upon that question often times as I think about my life. About the Gospel, it’s teachings, the commandments, the ordinances, and the doctrine. Why is it all important? Why do we go to such great heights and depths to share the message of the restored gospel? Why do we alter complete lifestyles to fit the teachings of Jesus Christ? And why do we continually seek to understand God’s plan for us? Why is it important to know? Why would I want to know?
As I've asked myself this question I've come to several conclusions. Which ultimately end up at the same bottom line that without the Gospel of Jesus Christ life would be desolate. Without knowing there was a God, without knowing he has a plan, without knowing we have a purpose, we would be hopeless.
That a little twelve year old girl wondering those big grown up questions would have been terrified to live her life never knowing, never gaining answers, and feeling all alone.
But because God has a plan and because we have this Gospel, we are never alone. We can find peace, comfort and solace in this life as we strive to become spiritually self reliant. Relying on our Savior to carry us through, because none of us can make it without him.
But with Him all is possible and we can confidently walk through life in both the good times and the bad. Knowing that God has a unique plan for each of us individually.
So back to the question, ”Why would I want to?”
I want to personally invite each of you to ponder that question for yourself. Why are you here? Why strive to become spiritually self reliant? Why do the prophets and apostles of God encourage us to heed the scriptures and teachings of the gospel? And why would we want to?
I feel like when you answer that question for yourself and find that reason of why this is important, things begin to click and to make sense. But no one can force you to want take that responsibility. We each make our own choice.
I'm grateful that at a young age I was able to begin my life long journey of becoming spiritually self reliant. So that as choices and big decisions came my way I was able to keep an eternal perspective. To look at the end goal. To progress and improve. And to be happy and joyful along the way… until I reach my final destination.
I know with all my heart that God loves us and he wants us to return home. This Gospel makes that possible. I've seen hearts soften and lives change through the grace of our Savior. I'm eternally grateful for the chance I've had to serve my Savior and others this past year. It terrifies me to think I only have a short seven months left to be a full time missionary.
However, I know each of us can reach out and make a difference in our every day lives. Even if we don't have a badge on. And yes, even if we live in Utah. There are so many opportunities to change the life of another. No joy is greater than helping a fellow son or daughter of God find their way home.
Thank you for the support and kind words of encouragement.
I Love you guys.
Sister Madison Stucki
Sent from my iPad