I keep forgetting to say it but I’M SO PROUD OF MOM for getting an iPhone!!! I never thought the day would come.
So I may have said Tennessee is weird in one of my emails…I take that back (white handbook pg 20)… and I’ll make it right by telling you about a breakthrough I’ve had. So my first 2 transfers, missionaries would talk about having dreams about being home and think "Nooo I’m not done with my mission, I need to go back to Tennessee!!" and I thought that was hilarious, because when I’d dream about being home I’d think "Wow, everyone said 18 months would fly and they were right, thank goodness… now I can go to school and date and have fun!!" and then I’d wake up and think "Nooo it’s only been 3 weeks!!" haha. BUT. Last night I had a dream that I was home and it felt terrible and I thought "Nooo I’m not done with my mission, I need to go back to Tennessee!! I need to teach Andrea and Judge and find for 2 hours every day and study for 2 hours every day and help the branch become a ward!!" So I guess whether or not Tennessee is weird, I am growing to love it and this is where I want to be.
My new companion is Sister Rindlisbacher. She’s from Fresno CA, she’s been out for a year, and she’s the kind of missionary I want to be. It feels good to do things right-er and it’s helping me a lot.
Here’s a story I’ve been sharing this week with members. It comes from a BYU devotional given by Terryl Givens…
"One of my favorite stories concerns a woman named Sarah Edwards, wife of the famous Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards. He was best known perhaps for his sermon that every early American schoolchild had read: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He told his audience:
The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present. . . .The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you. And, for the unregenerate, he continued: When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you . . . ; there shall be no moderation or mercy.
I cannot help but wonder how such excesses struck the hearts and minds of tender people everywhere and of Edwards’ own devout and loving wife in particular. It so happened that on one occasion when Edwards was out of town, another local preacher came to visit Sarah and her children. He offered to have a prayer with the family, and she agreed. Afterward, she recorded in her journal that while the Reverend Peter Reynolds was offering his prayer, shef ound herself feeling “an earnest desire that,in calling on God, he should say, Father.” She asked herself, “Can I now at this time, with the confidence of a child, and without the least misgiving of heart, call God my Father?” In consequence of this reflection, she recorded, “I felt a strong desire to be alone with God,” and withdrew to her chamber. In the moments that followed, she continued: The presence of God was so near, and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of any thing else. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, seemed as distinct persons, both manifesting their inconceivable loveliness,and mildness, and gentleness, and their great and immutable love to me. . . .The peace and happiness, which I hereupon felt, was altogether inexpressible."
Stories like this from Sarah Edwards, or from Enos in the Book of Mormon, or from Nephi who prayed to get his own personal manifestation of what his father Lehi had seen, are hard for me to understand. What does it take to get a divine manifestation, clearly unmistakable, from God? We are told we must ask with real intent, purify ourselves, repent, and love those around us as ways to help us receive revelation, even as qualifications to receive revelation, but in the end it is still up to God whether or not we receive the revelation we seek. I decided I don’t know if I can entirely control whether or not I receive revelation, but I can control whether or not I’m doing my best to be worthy of it. I’m glad revelation is so hard to get because then we have the motivation to change. I like this thought from Givens, that "The call to faith is a summons to engage the heart, to attune it to resonate in sympathy with principles and values and ideals that we devoutly hope are true, and to have reasonable but not certain grounds for believing them to be true." I am grateful my belief has come through work and study, because this has resulted in a lot of growth and change. So I am grateful that I am not forced to believe. I am also grateful that faith is intriguing and inviting and that I see evidence for my faith, results. Faith is a choice, and belief is a result of those initial steps and consequent study, personal change, and personal revelation.
I remember being extremely wary of words like "faith" and the "Spirit" not too long ago. I could not go off warm fuzzy feelings that people were labeling as the Spirit and revelation, that’s just silly, it might be nice but it’s like living in a warm dream and ignoring reality. What convinced me to have the courage to try faith was a promise that by qualifying for revelation, the answers we receive won’t simply be warm fuzzies that we put labels and explanations to. One of these promises is in D&C chapter 93: (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng)
1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;
2 And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;
The promise is not that we’ll comprehend that morality exists, that goodness exists, but even more, that we’ll know what the source of that goodness is. If we do certain things–listed here as forsake sins, come unto Christ, call or pray on his name, obey his voice, and keep his commandments–we will know that He is, and that He is the true light, true morality, etc. that lights in us and motivates us to improve and better society. That promise was compelling and the promised result was concrete, and I knew I couldn’t cross it off unless I tried it out. I haven’t seen the face of God but I cannot deny that I would not be here without being pushed by someone that wasn’t me…otherwise I would not be here. haha.
Ok I thought I had a funny story but I guess I don’t. I’m still in La Follette and we’re teaching Judge Herman about the Book of Mormon tonight!!!
Gotta go, love you all, bye!
– Sis Hale