Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013

Hey Everybody,
   This last week was pretty awesome. Christmas was great! This family that lives in our apartment complex called Elder Meline and my parents and figured out our family traditions and then invited us over for lunch to do them. It was pretty cool. Plus I got to talk to my family which made the day even better.
   Transfers are this week. Elder Meline and I will no longer be together. Our area is being split. Elder Meline will be taking Hampton Ward as a zone leader along with Elder Bostic and I'll have Baywood Ward. My companion will be Elder Cupp starting on Wednesday. I'm excited though. We have a baptism this Saturday and then he will be confirmed a member of the church on my birthday this Sunday.
   With New Year's coming up I've been doing a lot of thinking as to what it actually means. It's supposed to be a time of change but I feel like that is seldom the case. Why? Because everything worth striving for is always an inconvenience and we live too far in the past to progress out of the present.
   As I took this predicament to the scriptures it put a pretty cool meaning into some stories I hadn't picked up on before. A man here was kind enough to share with me his recent revelation from the story of Abraham and Isaac. For those of you who don't know, Abraham was a prophet of God. Abraham and his wife desperately wanted a child. It wasn't for many years until God let them have a son named Isaac. Isaac grew up to be everything a father could ask for. Abraham loved him. One day God commanded Abraham to take Isaac to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him. Torn between his feelings and his trust in God's will, Abraham finally decided to make the trek up the mountain with Isaac by his side. Now, you can imagine the thoughts going through Abraham's head as he climbed. I'm sure he was still trying to make up his mind as to whether or not he was going to kill his son. Isaac was everything to Abraham. The choice ahead was going to take everything he had to fulfill God's commandment to him.
   Abraham and Isaac reached the top of the mountain where they proceeded to build an altar. Once finished, Isaac obediently lay down on the altar and watched as his father picked up the knife to end his life. Abraham finally brought himself together enough to plunge the knife down in  an outward profession of his complete and unshaken obedience to God. But he didn't kill Isaac. The Lord had sent an angel to stop the knife before it could touch Isaac. Now just imagine the thoughts going through Abraham's head as he traversed down the mountain. Yes, the obvious answer was that he felt blessed and grateful that he could keep his son, but look further. What did The Lord want Abraham to learn?
   Through this act of total obedience, Abraham was giving The Lord all he had without the knowledge of what was to come. He was keeping a commandment that would try every fiber of his being to fulfill. And he did. He made the choice to obey God and sacrifice his son. The point is, Abraham knew this. God wanted Abraham to find out for himself that he had the ability to obey all of God's commandments, no matter how inconvenient and difficult they may seem. The Lord didn't want Isaac to die. He simply wanted Abraham to have enough faith in himself to have total faith in God.
   Keeping that in mind, another story in the scriptures is the story of Lot. Lot was commanded by God to leave Sodom and Gomorrah. God was going to destroy these two cities because of their wickedness and he needed Lot, his prophet, to be out of there first. So Lot gathered his things, got his family, and took off. Lot's family wasn't the happiest about this decision but they followed their father anyways. As they left that vile place, The Lord gave one more commandment. He said, "Look not behind thee". For whatever reason, Lot's wife turned around. Maybe she left her wallet, maybe she heard a noise, maybe she simply felt like walking backwards. But for whatever reason, Lot's wife turned around and gazed at the iniquitous home she was leaving behind. What happened to her you might ask? A pillar of salt she became. Literally.
   As simple a task as it was just to not look back on the city, she couldn't do it. It was just too much of an inconvenience to simply look forward and never look back. She probably didn't even stop to realize what could be in store for her and how much better it could be. She was living too far in the past to progress any further from the present. So a pillar of salt she became.
   So what's the moral of all of this Biblical rambling? How does this apply to us? Because we need to be more like Abraham this upcoming year and less like Lot's wife. We need to reasonably look past the inconveniences that Satan puts between us and significant blessings. That's the way Satan works. He puts logical and completely ethical reasons as to why we shouldn't do things. No matter how much they may benefit us. That way he lets us fight against our own discomforts in order to receive all that God has for us. Nothing worth while comes without stress, discomfort, and inconvenience. Convenience is a long sought after gift that rarely comes to those who search for it.
   In other, simpler terms, look not behind thee. Trust in The Lord in all thy doings. Choices become easier as we continue to choose them. That's the lesson Abraham was able to learn. As we put God first and move forward, the inconveniences that seem to be at hand will fade away and we will only be left with blessings. Don't look back. "The future is only as bright as your faith".

        Sincerely, Elder Earl

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