Sand & Stone

Yesterday, my home teacher came by and shared an inspirational story with us.  I liked the message it delivered so much that I decided to share it with the family that I home teach and you as well.

The story goes that two friends were walking through the desert.

During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand:

Today my best friend slapped me in the face.

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.

The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:

Today my best friend saved my life.

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him,

After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now you write on a stone. Why?

The other friend replied:

When someone hurts us we should write it down in the sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in a stone where no wind can ever erase it.

My Thoughts On This Story:

The Stone – Remember the good that people do to you.  It can perpetuate in your behavior and influence those around you.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

The Sand – Forgiveness is a divine attribute we can practice, as Jesus Christ does.  We draw closer to Heavenly Father as we learn to forgive those around us.   We cannot expect to receive forgiveness for our sins unless the same be freely given.  See Matthew 18:23-35 about the King, Servant and Fellowservant.  Forgive your debtors – those who trespass against you.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Salvation Procrastination

I’ve come across an important message in Alma chapter 34, taught by Amulek, son of Alma, in the Book of Mormon a few times while studying in the past nine months since.

The gist of the message is: Do not procrastinate!

Don’t put things off that you can do today, for tomorrow. Especially for things of a spiritual matter.

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. (Alma 34:32-34)

We came to Earth to obtain a body so that we may learn to control it and display obedience to Heavenly Father. Doing so during this probationary period prepares us for the blessings to come: Living with Heavenly Father and receiving all that he hath.

One who is not aligned with the Gospel can start changing today and should not wait for tomorrow. How do you change? Salvation comes by taking advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ, repenting of your sins and obeying the commandments and living gospel.

In the preceding verses, the day is our life on Earth. Our labor is works that show our faith and obedience. Night is when we die. The state of your spirit, whether it be dirty or clean, becomes its permanent state after death.  Who wants a dingy spirit in their perfect and brand new body? Labor cannot be performed after death. How can you show faith or obedience when you know you’ve already died and still exist?

This is why we must live righteous every single day. We do not know what day will be our last.

And what if you live good for your whole life and then so happen to pass away during an off day or off week?

What if you put off your labors until night?

That didn’t seem right to me.

I remember my missionaries answering that the labor can still be done, it will just be more difficult. Things that take ten minutes to do with a body may take ten years without one.

The severity can be seen by a scenario setup by my missionaries:

Take for example smoking. What happens if you’re a regular smoker and don’t have a cigarette for a day? You begin to crave it. If you don’t kick the habit of smoking in this life, imaging having cravings for a cigarette when you do not have a body? If it takes you one month to quit smoking in this life, it may take you one hundred years!

Oh Bishop, My Bishop!

I admit, when I first started going to Church I wanted to call the Bishop the Warden instead. I wanted to do so only because the Church was called a Ward. It seemed fit that the Warden would be in charge of the Ward. It took me two months to get that out of my system and I’m happy to report that I never once slipped up…at least I don’t think I did.

I don’t know if my Bishop will ever know how much I admire and appreciate him. Not because he holds a prestigious title, that he presides over Sacrament or is in the highest office of the Aaronic priesthood. The reason why I appreciate him is because he is just a man. He is a man who is kind, caring, humble, sincere and the first one to admit his faults.

If I did not know him and saw him walking down the street, I would know he was a righteous man, obedient to the Lord. He is a man that has the Spirit with him, always.

I know how hard his calling can be and he does it with a smile and with all his heart. He is one of the many men in my ward that I look up to as an example of what I want to become. He is a man that has his spiritual affairs in order.

Last Sunday for Church, I caught him in his office and met with him briefly about arranging to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood since I was Sustained in the last Stake conference. When he saw me, he smiled. He shook my hand and was genuinely happy to see me. We sat in his office for a second and I told him of my plans and how I wanted my best friend to ordain me.

Afterwards, he told me how he was proud of me and put his arm around my shoulder. “How are you doing?” he asked me. “I’m trying as best as I can.” I replied. “The best you can is good enough and that is between you and the Lord.” Like many times before, he spoke about how he is not perfect, has his faults and he tries his best as well. He also spoke of the wonderful gift of the atonement and how he relies on it in his life. At that moment I felt the Spirit bring me Peace and Comfort. It washed away my feelings of inadequacies.

His kindness and humble attitude strengthened my testimony. He made my day. He made my week. Even though I thought something horrible happend less than three hours ago when a Deacon forgot to pass us the bread for Sacrament, I felt safe and set for another week.

He is just a man, but he is my Bishop. And I wish I could find a way to thank him for that.

Fortify Yourselves with Daily Gems

Every morning when I arrive at work, I cannot wait to see what is in my email box. Over a month ago, my ward mission leader forwarded me a “daily gem” and suggested that I sign up for it. I did and I am glad. They offer inspiration and help me increase my gospel knowledge on a variety of subjects.

I find that the small emails I receive (Daily Gems, Family Gems, Church History Gems) remind me of the greater picture of life. Of course I should concentrate on my work during the day, but I try to take what I find in the daily gems and be mindful to apply it in my life from that point on.

A daily gem I received on Friday really helped me:

The Great and Wonderful Love

“If you have any thoughts and feelings [of inadequacy and guilt], I invite you to become as a little child and feel again ‘the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world’ (D&C 138:3). Childlike faith in the perfect love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will ‘divide asunder’ (Helaman 3:29) Satan’s snares of inadequacy, imperfection, and guilt.”

My recent feelings of inadequacy and short-comings all went away. It let me realize that I am not a perfect being. It let me realize that at times, I will come up short, but as long as I keep trying it is OK. The point is to keep trying and to grow bit by bit everyday. It let me realize what a gift the atonement is.

 

You can sign up for Daily Gems Here: http://www.lds.org/listservices