In January I was asked to give a talk. Since this blog is like my "small plates", I hope you don't mind me posting it even though it's not primary related.
My dearest friends, I am so grateful to be here this Sabbath Day with you. To worship, to give thanks, to learn of Christ, and to be one in the gospel together. I’m grateful for the messages that have been spoken and pray that the spirit will be with me as I share my thoughts.When I was 7 years old, it was the end of swim practice and time to enjoy a few minutes to relax. At Oppio pool, there was a high dive. I had never been on it before but I saw people jumping and laughing afterwards. I climbed rung after rung. Up and up I went, it seemed pretty high. As I got to the top, I had to take a couple quick breaths. I was up here. 2 choices - I could either climb down, or jump. I walked up to the edge, took a deep breath, and decided, no… I did have another option. While the phrase, like a boss hadn’t been invented yet, that was indeed my 3rd choice. I could do a graceful swan dive, head first like a boss. I would own it. I’m very blessed I didn’t break my neck and instead just belly flopped. Now... one might think that this experience turned me off the high dive- however, the magic of childhood made the experience a rush that was to be enjoyed. To this day, I would still jump off! If you paid me $20.
What is courage? We have all had moments in our lives when we’ve had to take a stand. When our belief, conviction, and strength were taxed. Sometimes, courage is just facing the day and making it through. Courage comes in all shapes and forms. Courage comes in words, in actions, in thought and attitude. Today I will be talking about courage to believe. And I’m going to focus on 4 words that Elder Holland has said in an April 2013 Conference Address, “Lord, I believe.” They really are profound words and I love them, “Hope on. Journey On.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Do you believe that God is the eternal Father? Not just the eternal Father, but your loving Father? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? When you address Him in prayers, do you speak with Him or at Him? Do you feel that He listens to you? I know God lives and I know that He loves us. I testify that He is real. I felt overwhelmed yesterday morning. I felt so sad. I was staring straight ahead on my front porch, listening to each breath I took, and the cold seemed to seep deep into me. The branches were bare on the trees all around me. Dogs were barking and seemed so angry at each other. A bird sat at the top of a tree, all alone, so very alone. And then, I looked even farther up. There was a huge cloud with 2 puffy eyes and a very sad frown. As it moved ever so slowly, that frown… you guessed it, did not stay. It turned itself right up again and smiled that frown away. Some might scoff at me. Some might say it’s a coincidence or that I’m delusional. But I see Heavenly Father’s hand in my life. I see His love for me in the clouds, in close parking spots, in little old women who stop to tell my children they are beautiful at WinCo, and in so many other aspects of my life. What is the greatest proof to you that God is real? Go home, write it down!
From lds.org it says, “The word hope is sometimes misunderstood. In our everyday language, the word often has a hint of uncertainty. For example, we may say that we hope for a change in the weather or a visit from a friend. In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active. The principle of hope extends into the eternities, but it also can sustain us through the everyday challenges of life. “Happy is he,” said the Psalmist, “that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5). With hope, we can find joy in life. We can “have patience, and bear with … afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions” (Alma 34:41).”
Elder Holland said from his talk, “A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, “Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.” I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for “only believing.” I told him that Christ Himself said, “Be not afraid, only believe,” a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B. Hinckley into the mission field. I told this boy that belief was always the first step toward conviction and that the definitive articles of our collective faith forcefully reiterate the phrase “We believe.”
Courage to believe is having hope. Hope On. What do you know to be true? What do you want from this life? Have hope and believe. Phillipians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Whether we are just starting in our belief, discovering truth, or whether we know and are firm, we must have hope to press forward.
Journey On. One time, when Christina was 3 years old, we were waiting for our order of pretzels and cheese at The Claim Jumper. It was taking a while and the waitress came over to tell us it would be 5 more minutes until they were done. Christina very sweetly said to the waitress, “Your 5 minutes is up.” Patience. Isn’t patience one of the absolute worst lessons we have to learn about!?!?! The DMV? Don’t even get me started on it with children under 3. The fact that we don’t have robots to cook and clean yet? Yeah. Hollywood lied!!! Imagine that!!
On a more serious note, does this journey of life ever seem a little long? I really don’t like waiting to hold my dearest baby Joe again, to feel him breath and have his warmth again. I really don’t like having to wait to put my hand on my mother’s face and see her shining eyes again. I don’t like struggling though obstacles, and waiting for that time when I can rest. I hope I don’t come off as whining and complaining. I’m not. The veil is thin and I feel those I love close by. There’s just something so important about our bodies though and physical touch. I’m simply saying, patience to journey on is hard. Enduring isn’t a walk in the park.
President Monson says, “What does it mean to endure? I love this definition: to withstand with courage. Courage may be necessary for you to believe; it will at times be necessary as you obey. It will most certainly be required as you endure until that day when you will leave this mortal existence.”
The Savior promised, “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” It might be that we have to take life breath by breath, moment by moment, day by day. Whatever our situation, whatever we face, whatever comes our way- God loves us. He loves you. He will not leave you. He is merciful and good. He is all powerful. Your belief, your knowledge, your willingness to do His will and His almighty arm will be what helps you to endure. Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
We are not alone. Do not expect perfection from yourself right this very second, but do the best you can. There are angels, many that the eye cannot see, that are with us at this very moment. They are on the errand of The Lord, to help His children. We can journey on and know that there is heavenly help guiding and directing us. There are angels that we can see too! Look around. Look at the faces of those by your side, behind you, in front of you, next to you. These are some of God’s finest angels. You are not alone. There are so many here willing to help, to cook you meal after meal, to listen, to cry with you, to give you a hug, to call upon the very powers of heaven and bless you, to give you encouragement. We are mortal, but we do the best we can. We journey on together. If this beautiful journey ever seems overwhelming, when we wonder how to move on, when we seem stuck, I repeat “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;”
Rung by rung, we courageously climb the ladder of our high dive. We obey God’s commandments, we pray, we read our scriptures over and over again, we have family home evening, we help and give service, we are baptized, we serve missions, we get married in the temple, we hope, we believe, we repent often, we are kind, and we endure. And then the moment comes when we reach the top. We never know when we’ll reach the top and be called to jump. But we don’t have to be scared. We can have confidence through Christ our Savior. He has died for us. He has lived for us. He lives for us still. We hoped on and we journey on. We can own it. When we jump off that high dive, we are uninhibited and liberated. We feel the wind, we feel the freedom, we are truly happy because our hope is a reality. We don’t belly flop, we slice through that water sharp and clear. We have done our part, we were brave, we were valiant and God looks to welcome us with a clean towel and open arms.I bear my testimony that hope is the attitude that will keep us strong and stalwart in this life. I know that if we have the courage to believe, that that belief and hope brings us to action. As we endure to the end and make our daily choices, I know that if we remember Christ and do as He did, all will be well in the end. I bear testimony that God the Father is real. He loves us dearly for we are His children. Glory be to His name forever and to His Son, Jesus Christ, in whose sacred name I close, Amen.