Today Sister Sweeney and I gave our farewell remarks in our Draper, Utah home ward. We had many generations of family present – which reminded me of President Hinckley’s counsel of a few years ago, “Recently, at the dedication of the Columbus Temple in Ohio, I had an interesting experience. My wife and daughter were with me. A granddaughter and her husband and children drove up from St. Louis…In that sacred and hallowed house there passed through my mind a sense of the tremendous obligation that was mine to pass on all that I had received as an inheritance from my forebears to the generations who have now come after me… I said to myself, “Never permit yourself to become a weak link in the chain of your generations.” It is so important that we pass on without a blemish our inheritance of body and brain and, if you please, faith and virtue untarnished to the generations who will come after us. You young men and you young women, most of you will marry and have children. Your children will have children, as will the children who come after them. Life is a great chain of generations that we in the Church believe must be linked together. I fear there will be some broken links. Do not let yourself become such, I pray.” (Keep the Chain Unbroken, Gordon B. Hinckley, BYU Devotional, Nov. 1999)
Joy Comes Through Serving
Our remarks centered on the Lord’s remarkable way of intervening in our lives, especially as we permit him to lead us through growth experiences, including accepting calls to serve.
Elder Holland, in last year’s mission president’s seminar, shared this scripture – first given to Thomas B. Marsh but now claimed by us in our call to serve (emphasis added). Note the remarkable blessings promised to those who serve by sharing the gospel – to them and their families:
Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation….
Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live.
Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them. Yea, I will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you. And I will establish a church by your hand….(DC 31: 3, 5 – 7)
These same blessings and promises are available to every missionary that serves! If you answer the call, you merit the promised blessings!
Going To the Edge of the Light
There are times when accepting a call to serve stretches us far beyond where we believe we can go. If this describes your feelings on occasion, let me share a beautiful spiritual concept called “going to the edge of the light.”
When President Boyd K Packer was a newly-called General Authority he had an interesting experience with this principle. He had a large family and wished to relocate to Salt Lake City and provide a sufficiently large place for the family to live. After searching, he located a suitable location but it required all of the funds he had saved just to complete the purchase. How could he afford future payments? President Packer discussed the purchase with Elder Harold B. Lee (then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve) who listened carefully, pondered the feelings he had and advised Elder Packer to proceed, though he made no promises of support in order to make the future payments. This continued to trouble Elder Packer, who again brought the matter up with Elder Lee. Elder Lee suggested they go talk with President David O. McKay. President McKay listened carefully, pondered the feelings he had and advised Elder Packer to proceed, though he made no offer of support either.
President Packer left President McKay’s office still troubled. Whereupon Elder Lee gave him this lesson: he said,
‘The trouble with you is you want to see the end from the beginning.’ I replied that I would like to see at least a step or two ahead. Then came the lesson of a lifetime: ‘You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.” Then he quoted these 18 words from the Book of Mormon: Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6)(“The Edge of the Light,” BYU Today, Mar. 1991, 22-23)
When (not if) your call to serve requires you to go to the “edge of the light”, GO!
Where Do Those Doubts and Discouraged Feelings Come From?
Now, what about those feelings of doubt? Of “I’m not very good at this, and I don’t think I’m making much progress?” These are nothing more or less than the Adversary attacking good – even great – Saints to discourage them. Oh, he knows your callings! There is assuredly a bulletin board with your picture and name on it somewhere in Satan’s domain. He knows the good you are doing and he has an insatiable desire to discourage you.
Would it surprise you those feelings are felt even by General Authorities. Consider this from Pres. Eyring:
Shortly after I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve, I got a phone call from President Faust, counselor in the First Presidency. He asked me to come to his office. I went with some concern as to why he would take the time to visit with me.
After some pleasantries, he looked at me and said, “Has it happened yet?” When I looked puzzled he went on to say, “I’ve been watching you in meetings. It seems to me that you have been feeling that your calling is beyond you and that you are not qualified.”
I said that doubt had come to me, as if I had hit a wall. I expected that he was going to reassure me. I told him that I appreciated his being aware of my doubts and asked for his help. But I was surprised by his kind, firm reply. He said, “Don’t ask me. Go to Him.” Then he pointed up to heaven. Now years later I sit in that same office. When I walk into it I look up and remember him and how he taught me by example how to help those who are feeling overwhelmed in the Lord’s service [by] finding a way to send them with confidence to Him [where]…they will gain the strength they need and to spare. (O Ye That Embark, Henry B Eyring, Oct. 2008 General Conference)
To you soon-to-be full time Elders and Sisters serving in the Arizona Scottsdale Mission, we urge you to rejoice in your call to serve. When discouragement comes from the adversary we encourage you to also “go to Him” whose call it is that you answered – and seek His counsel.
In the MTC
We enter the MTC on Saturday, June 22nd. We are ready to begin our service to you, the future missionaries of the Arizona Scottsdale Mission. The hour of our mission is come. If you also enter the MTC before June 22nd, we look forward to seeing you while you are in the MTC.
President and Sister Sweeney