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A window to His Love

02 May

What I learned on a two year mission for my church to San Francisco

I want to be a window to His love,
so when you look at me you will see Him.
I want to be so pure and clear that you won’t even know I’m here,
’cause His love will shine brightly through me.

I want to be a doorway to the truth,
so when you walk beyond you will find Him.
I want to stand so straight and tall, that you won’t notice me at all.
But through my open door He will be seen.

A window to His love.
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message He’d have me bring to you
And with each passing day
I want to fade away.
‘Till only He can be seen And I become a window to His love.

I want to be a window to His love,
so you can look through me and you’ll see Him.
And some day shining through my face, you’ll see His loving countenance,
’cause I will have become like He is

A window to His love.
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message He’d have me bring to you
And with each passing day
I want to fade away.
‘Till only He can be seen And I become…

A window to His love
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message He’d have me bring to you.
And with each passing year
I want to disappear
‘Till He’s become ev’rything
and I’ve become a window to His love.
(by Julie de Azevedo)

I remember sitting in a crowded living room of a stranger’s house my first few weeks here in the San Francisco mission. After some small discussion with this man who happened to be Muslim, he turned to me and asked a question. “What do you think religion is?” Well, I had never really thought about it before to be honest. So I pondered about it and just gave what I thought to be the textbook answer. “I suppose it’s a system of beliefs that a group of people share and embrace.” His reply has remained in my mind to this time. “No,” said the man, “Religion is a way of life.” And that was that. I began to discover that I had some learning to do. I have continued to learn since that day that the only way to find success was to make my religion my life; to become a window to His love.

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19) That’s the trick isn’t it? The “inner child,” as I call it, and the “natural man” seem to battle it out at times. It’s hard to recognize which is which, but it is possible for the inner child to triumph over the natural man. In the midst of such a struggle, some time ago I wrote the following:

There’s a battle that I’ve been fighting for a long time now.
A battle that needs to end, but I’ve never been sure how.
I’ve held strong to my guns, with pride in my cause,
I was going to gain victory, glory, power, and applause.
But my weapons have become weak; discouragement beating my soul.
“Is my purpose really right?” The doubts begin to roll.
A voice cries out, yet softly, “The real purpose has been made clear.
The victor has been determined, open your heart and hear.”
Contemplation, prayer, and searching have become my new focus.
I turn to my Great Master and ponder upon His purpose.
He gave all that He had with not one thought of himself.
Still, he gained more than any, but not just of earthly wealth.
I now understand my fight, and my forces begin to flee.
For the battle I was fighting was with no one, only me.
My new purpose is focused on others and that’s the path I choose.
And now, I’ve never been so happy because of that battle I had to lose.

I am discovering that in order to win, we must give ourselves up. When I realized this, I tried an experiment. I began to do exactly opposite of what I wanted to do or I would do exactly what I didn’t want to do. The craziest thing happened; it worked. I remember particularly one day where I decided instead of going to nice, clean, fancy Foster City; we went to San Mateo… which is not so nice and clean and fancy. Then, I found the street that I hated the most and tracted there. I must add that I am grateful for a companion who was willing to follow my crazy ideas. However, nothing happened. So we decided to go check on some referrals we had received. They were in Foster City. We had an appointment to go to in San Mateo that evening. To avoid running back and forth, we just ended up tracting near our appointment. Bingo. There at the end of the block, was a nice young man from Nepal who invited us back. We got to teach Him a few times later about Jesus Christ and God’s plan. That is just one example. I learned a lot from it. It seemed every time I did it, I was lead to where I needed to be. I have become more sensitive to the Spirit as a result and I can better differentiate between what is just me and what is Him.

I try to “remember” as King Benjamin said, “the great goodness of God and [my] own nothingness.” (Mosiah 4:11) Also, as Ammon said, “I know that I am nothing.” (Alma 26:12) Again in Heleman 12:7 we read, “O how great the nothingness of the children of men.” I can relate with Moses who said, “Now I know that man is nothing, which thing I had never supposed.” (Moses 1:10) It’s humbling. And it is extremely difficult to embrace. Yet, “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” (D&C 18:10) We can know of His eternal love and purpose for us as we submit to His will. And so the pursuit to become a window to His love is only successful as I remember that truth. The example of John the Baptist amazes me. He explains, speaking of the Savior, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) I hope that even as I may fade from this mission and people’s minds, the love of the Savior may continue to increase in the lives of those I have encountered. As I have strived to “receive his image in [my] countenance,” (Alma 5:14) instead of just “doing missionary things,” I feel I have been more effective at helping people feel the Spirit and receive the message of the restoration. I believe that is why we are encouraged to be Christlike missionaries. Not only does it help me on my mission, I can see how applying these things to “normal life” will be beneficial. Preach My Gospel teaches, “Just as vital as what you do… is who you are.” (p.115) The more like the Savior we are, the more good we can do. That is a truth applicable to all aspects of life.

I feel like I have grown so much as I have strived to live my life as the Savior did. While I have learned the blessings of being Christlike or “child-like,” I have also learned to put away childish things and be a man (1 Cor. 13:11). “Growing up” is a painful thing though, and sometimes it’s just no fun. But it is remarkable to look back and see how I have changed through the mercy and Atonement of the Savior (for in the end, that is where all credit is due). I think C.S. Lewis put it well when he said, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

He continues, “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him -for we can prevent Him, if we choose- He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly… His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” (Mere Christianity p.205-6) That sounds about right to me.

Indeed, the Lord has a great plan for us, His children. We have such a high potential to live up to. I’ve learned that it takes some stretching, little by little, to reach the next level. Whether it is in a Fijian, Tongan, or young single adult ward, success has required the same principles. On the streets of San Francisco or in the homes of people I’ve never before met, I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and open my mouth (and then pray I don’t say something stupid). I’ve seen the Lord work through my “small and simple” efforts to bring to pass great things. For me, it took a little wake up call found in D&C 60:2-3. “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine danger is kindled against them. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.” It’s a little scary for me. I know I have struggled with the whole “fear of man” thing. It kept me back in many instances from opening my mouth and sharing the gospel. I have strived to be more faithful. I feel like God has given me the gift of communication. I love to talk. I have experienced times when, because of my fears, that gift has been taken for a time. The result was a little embarrassing. On the other hand, I know that as I opened my mouth, regardless of the judgments of men, the Lord has spoken through me. I remember clearly sitting in front of investigators or even some random person on a bus, and sharing the most powerful and sincere of testimony. It wasn’t me though. The Lord was able to use me as an instrument, a window to His love. That is absolutely rewarding. I feel one small step closer to the potential I am striving to reach.

I love the Lord. I know without a doubt the day will come, through righteousness and perseverance, that I will be able to become like He is. It is my desire that I may continue to become a cleaner and clearer window that reveals perfectly the love of God. I know He lives. He communicates with His children through prayer. To his willing children; He directs us, unifies us, and teaches us through His servant, the prophet. He always has. He always will. Our loving heavenly Father has prepared and revealed a plan for us to find peace in this life and in the world to come. The Book of Mormon, as it states to be, is another testament of Jesus Christ. It contains the fullness of the gospel as does the Bible. The study of the two, side by side have blessed my life eternally. Through them both, I have found purpose. I have found truth and knowledge. I have found God’s love on every page. I have gained a desire to share it with my brothers and sisters. We are all literally God’s children! He loves us! He wants us to be happy. Happiness is here! The church of Jesus Christ and its truths have been restored in fullness and clarity in our day. It is now our turn to bless those around us with those eternal truths. It is my prayer that we may continue to do so with courage and love. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Statistics over 2 years

Transfers: 17
Companions: 16 (islanders: 7)
Areas: 9
Wards: 11
Language programs: 3
Trios: 2
Transfers as junior companion: 12
Mission Presidents: 1
District meetings: 134(ish)
Zone conferences: 17
Pictures taken: 500(ish)
Siblings married: 3
Nieces and Nephews born: 3Happiness: Eternal!

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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Opinion, Religion

 

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