As many of you know, I served my mission in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. I loved every bit of it! I learned so much and have seen so many blessings. I know I’ll continue to learn and be blessed every day of my life because of my choice to serve the Lord. However, serving Him can’t stop simply because I’ve returned home and been released from being a full-time missionary. His work is hastening and because I have made covenants with Him and am one of His disciples, I will continue to dedicate myself to serving Him for the rest of my life.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. I know that we are put in certain places and situations because that is where we can make the greatest impact in the world concerning Jesus Christ, especially if we are following the Lord’s counsel. We can change the world through the gifts and talents our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us. When we use our spiritual gifts to serve the Lord, to help hasten His work, blessings are poured out: We grow in knowledge and understanding. We grow in our ability to see the needs of others and we grow in our desire to help them meet those needs. We grow in our ability to love and bring the Spirit into people’s lives. As our faith and testimonies grow because of our service, diligence and desires to serve the Lord, we come to truly know what repentance and the Atonement are all about: Love. The Gospel is love. Love is the Gospel. Christ Himself taught that the greatest commandment was to love God, the second like unto it: to love our neighbor. When we live the Gospel, we are filled with love. When we are filled with love, we understand who Christ is and we have desires to follow His example and become like Him. As we strive to follow Him and fulfill our divine potential, we can overcome the natural man and learn to love God more than we love ourselves, more than we love the world. We learn to set aside our doubts and fears. We forget ourselves. Hastening the work of the Lord is not about us. It is about those around us, bringing them closer to Christ and helping them to find the path to eternal life. Sharing the Gospel isn’t just about sharing what makes us happy. It isn’t just another commandment. It isn’t a chore or another thing to add to our to-do lists. It is the work of Salvation. It is about saving souls. Saving them in a way that makes it possible for them to make it Home to not only see our Heavenly Parents again, but LIVE with them for all eternity.
Being a full-time missionary is hard, especially if you’re an introvert. It’s hard to be rejected on a daily basis, at least five or ten times throughout the day. It’s hard to hear how people don’t believe in God, how they just know that Mormons are of the devil, or how they slam the door in your face. It’s hard. But there were, and still are, so many times that I saw many miracles and blessings simply because I was trying, because I was doing all I could to help the Lord hasten His work. I will touch on just a few of them. And you don’t have to serve a full-time mission to see these blessings in your life.
As you serve the Lord and help Him to hasten His work, you become more aware of His Spirit. You know what it feels like for you, how the Lord speaks to you. You feel a great desire to do His will, not your own, though there are times, days or even weeks, that you just want a break. But another blessing is that you understand just how important His work is. You can’t just take a break from it. Once you taste it, you want nothing more than to continue incorporating it into your life. You find every way that you can to apply what you’ve learned from your missionary experiences. Because you feel the Spirit more. Because you are happier and you feel God’s love when you share the Gospel. There is SO much joy that comes from serving! You see the impact a small act of kindness has on a person. Even when it seems pretty insignificant to you, it might have just changed their entire life.
Serving the Lord teaches you what God’s love truly is: unconditional and absolutely perfect. You see people on the street, in the stores, driving their cars, everywhere, you see them in a new light and you find that you have a desire to help them find joy and happiness. You feel God’s love for them, and it shows you how your Heavenly Father feels about you, too.
There are two final blessings that I want to touch on. They are two blessings I feel are the most significant and rewarding. First, is the blessing of repentance. The Gospel teaches us how to apply the Atonement through faith and repentance. When we are cleansed by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, we have an opportunity to receive Eternal Life, our ultimate goal. When we share the Gospel, we are giving others that chance to repent and receive Eternal Life.
The last blessing I have to share is possibly one of my favorites, and it goes along with the blessing of repentance. You will never know the impact you have on people you share the Gospel with. When you share your testimony with someone, it doesn’t just change them, and it doesn’t just change you. It can change generations! Abinadi is a fantastic example. He was a very diligent and obedient prophet who continued to preach, even in the face of death. I’m not sure he knew that anyone was changed by the words he taught as he stood before King Noah in chains while the king and his priests mocked him and condemned him to death. But there was one priest, Alma, who listened and was converted unto the Lord. Alma taught and baptized hundreds of people, who then continued to share the Gospel and teach it to their family, friends, and even entire nations. Abinadi was one man, yet he changed the lives of thousands of people. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10-16 says:
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord, your Redeemer, suffered death in the flesh; wherefore, he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”
I look forward to the day when I can see the impact my missionary efforts have had and will have. When I get to meet those who joined the church because I had the courage, love and guidance from the Spirit to be obedient to my Father’s commandments and open my mouth and live the teachings of Jesus Christ in a way that others can see and be changed because of it. And I so look forward to the joy that our Father will have on His face because of the children He has with Him in the Celestial Kingdom.
Sharing the Gospel is not just a commandment. It is a blessing and a privilege. It is something I am very honored to do because I know that one day, I will stand before God. I want to be able to tell Him that I did my very best to bring my brothers and sisters Home. I want to show Him how much I love Him and Our Eternal Family. I love to share the Gospel because I know that it gives at least one more person a chance to return Home.
I know this is His work, and I know that everything is in His hands. But I can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. I am His disciple, and I know that I can change the world simply by sharing what I know to be true. And this church and His Gospel is absolutely, perfectly true.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.