Monday, February 6, 2012

trying to focus on the why of the gospel

Yesterday I gave a Relief Society lesson on Visting Teaching.

I really wanted the sisters to feel that the Lord had prepared more blessings, more joy, more friendship, more growth, more peace and help and strength for them as they minister to their sisters.

Right away some sisters shared beautiful experiences of being on sacred ground as they have tried to love and serve and listen to their sisters. I love teaching in my ward...their is so much wisdom and experience, so much enthusiasm and love. Really, should I talk at all?

I kept thinking as a prepared, the Lord is not in the business of burdening. He's very adamant about it in fact:Come unto me, all ye that blabour and are heavy laden, and I will give you crest...
  For my yoke is aeasy, and my burden is light.

So why do our responsibilities in the gospel at times seem so heavy? We forget the yoking part!
My friend was telling me about a talk she listened to (which maybe she'll post a link in the comments if she reads this?) where the function of yokes was discussed. That it wasn't just sharing the load, but the the yoke was actually designed so that when both animals are correctly yokes the load eased upon both their backs, so much so that one animal in a yoke couldn't pull the load. It doesn't work.

 Nope he doesn't burden, nor does He give us mere "busy work". He is, however, very much in the business of blessing and most definitely in the business of our progression. Everything he requires of us is for our own good, for our growth and development. For us to become more like Him. And we have been promised peace and joy along the way.

I love how Pres. Uchtdorft said it:
 In our diligent efforts to fulfill all of the duties and obligations we take on as members of the Church, we sometimes see the gospel as a long list of tasks that we must add to our already impossibly long to-do list, as a block of time that we must somehow fit into our busy schedules. We focus on what the Lord wants us to do and how we might do it, but we sometimes forget why.My dear sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not an obligation; it is a pathway, marked by our loving Father in Heaven, leading to happiness and peace in this life and glory and inexpressible fulfillment in the life to come. The gospel is a light that penetrates mortality and illuminates the way before us.
... When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet."
So why do we visit teach????

Sister Beck has explained that visiting teaching is an expression of our discipleship and a significant way to honor our covenants.  
"As committed disciples of the Savior," she goes on to say, "we are improving in our ability to do the things He would do if He were here. We know that to Him it is our caring that counts, and so we are trying to concentrate on caring about our sisters rather than completing lists of things to do. True ministry is measured more by the depth of our charity than by the perfection of our statistics."

It is easy to get caught up in the doing. Which is good. A desire to be obedient, comes from love of our Saviour. But sometimes we just get fixated on the doing, the finishing the accomplishing. When the ultimate "task" the Saviour has given us is to become like Him. And, that my friends, will not be "checked-off" anytime soon. 

But I believe there is meant to be joy in the process. That rob ourselves of some of the significance when we get to concerned with completion.  

I came across this quote in Daughters of my Kingdom by Louise Y. Robison, Seventh Relief Society General President, and it really struck me.

“If we only half do our work we will have no pleasure, if we do it from a sense of duty we will have no joy, but if we feel we are a branch of this vine, and that our Father in Heaven has felt us to be worthy to be a member of that branch, and that we can carry this work when it is here to do, then we will have joy.”
Made me think of the New Testament when Christ warns that if we do things with anything but pure motives (ie to be scene of men), we will "have [our] reward."  Matt 6:2
I don't want the reward of my own making, my own pride getting patted on the back. I want my Father in Heaven approval, I wan His Spirit and it's beautiful gifts: joy, peace, love.
The catch is inorder to REALLY do what we've been asked, to fully participate in His work, we have to involve the Lord. We can not do it alone.
We need His power. Pres. Ezra Taft Benson taught:“When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.” 
In that moment! I love the immediacy of that! 
That is the moment, I believe, we also find more joy in our service as well. More peace. 

These ideas have come to me in a few areas of my life, not just visiting teaching. 
Pulling back and asking myself, what is the WHY behind what I am doing? What is the purpose in my doing and have I missed the mark? Have I voided this process of it's blessings by focusing too much on the task at hand, of my own duty instead of the Lord's involvement and direction. 
When we involve the Lord and let Him lead us through, He has a wonderful way of pointing out the beauty. Like any good teacher, the learning is enriched in their presence.
I finished the lesson by sharing one last experience I had preparering the lesson. It was Saturday night, and I was tired. I had prepared lots, long before, but I still wanted  to piece together my remaining thoughts. McKye apparently didn't get the memo that mommy had set aside this time for her lesson, and would not stay in bed. I was frustrated and feeling more scattered by the minute. Then the Lord pulled me away from the kitchen table littered with all my materials, said leave this, I have something to show you. I settled on the couch (McKye at my feet, finally drifting off, happy with his hard-won victory over mommy who told him he had to go back to bed). I got my bible out and turned to John 17.
This is why. The Spirit said gently.
This is why we do everything-- visiting teaching, missionary work, temple work, teach our families... because of Jesus Christ's atonement.
When we have felt the saving power of His sacrifice we want to help as many as we can also feel the peace of becoming His.
 this is alife beternal, that they might cknow thee the only true dGod, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast esent.
To know Christ. To be like Him. 
As we continually try to do WHAT He asks,   
HOW He would do it,
and remember WHY.


Rachel Hanks said...Best Blogger Tips

Chelsea thanks for sharing your insights on this topic. I life the quotations you've brought together. This is an article I read recently on the why of the gospel that I just loved

Chelsea Belle said...Best Blogger Tips

here's the link to the yoke discussion thanks desi