I suppose one of the most interesting aspects of missionary work is the subtle way the Lord guides us in our work. In other work, the Lord’s influence seems much less obvious, but in missionary work we get to see the hand of the Lord almost every day.
We had an experience midweek in which we were returning home and Elder Ledema, my trainer/companion, felt that he should take a brief detour through an unlit city garden on our way back. As it happened, we ran into one of our investigators who we haven’t been able to get ahold of for some time. We’ll call him Ralph. We had a brief discussion with Ralph about 2-3 weeks ago in the chapel on Sunday. We mentioned that we were on the path of preparing him for baptism. We invited him to keep the commandments necessary to help him prepare (The law of chastity, or in this case avoiding pornography and not allowing his girlfriend to sleep over; the word of wisdom, or dropping a coffee, alcohol, and smoking addiction; and, in general, reading the scriptures and praying daily). We talked with him about his life recently. He said he’s been living all the commandments and the change has been a dramatic one for the better. The only commandment he’s not living at this point is that of adopting a spirit of worship on the Sabbath day by going to church, avoiding purchases, etc. He mentioned that he’s afraid of commitment. That’s a common wall with our investigators. The first big wall is making the experiment of living in accordance with God’s commandments. A small percent of our investigators make that leap, but every one who does finds lasting happiness and peace as a result. The next step is to make a commitment or promise with God to continue keeping the commandments forever through the covenant of baptism. “Forever” seems like a long time–probably for a good reason. It’s hard for a lot of people to imagine making a commitment to anything forever. That’s probably why there are so many people who avoid baptism and even more who avoid marriage. Even when they realize that promise of keeping the commandments brings countless blessings and there are no better gifts than the gifts of God that come by staying faithful to him, they stop at the waters of baptism, dip their toes in, and, halting, stare at the prospect of the future. Sometimes for a week, sometimes for a year, sometimes for an entire lifetime people wait to make commitments. And then they end up avoiding commitment forever.
Commitments are nothing to fear. But we should respect them. Or are we afraid of respect? There’s a reason why men should honor their oaths above all else. Commitments made with good people in good state of mind push us to always improve and keep ourselves on the straight and narrow path leading us back to God.
May we all celebrate 2013 making commitments with ourselves through personal goals, commitments with God through spiritual goals, and commitments to our loved (unloved) ones to be conduits of Christ’s love on earth.
I love you all dearly.
I’m sorry if I’ve been a poor keeper of commitments in the past. I will also try to improve.
Happy 2013 from Brazil!