These last weeks have been an interesting bunch on the reactivation front. Our Bishop gave us a list of about 100 names and addresses of people who were active members of our ward but stopped for whatever reason. He said, “Go take a look at these names when you have some time in your teaching schedule and see what you can do”. So, we’re seeing what we can do. And the sights are interesting. Teaching people who were once regular members and have fallen away is so different from teaching people getting to the know the church the first time.
Most all of the less-active members we teach say they have simply “lost the desire” to go to Church. When asked about how their falling away happened, they almost always comment that they first stopped reading the scriptures, then missed a church meeting here and there, then missed two or three Sundays in a row, then stopped praying because they didn’t think it was worth it to pray while they weren’t going to church or reading the scriptures. Then, slowly but surely, all the desire they had to go to church and to serve in the ward and to live a vibrant life based in the Gospel of Jesus Christ wanes to a dim glow. It’s hard helping them understand why they need to come back. For investigators, they go because it’s a great blessing they haven’t experienced yet. For less-active members, it’s a duty to God and the fulfillment of a commitment they have made to live as a disciple of Christ. Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, said “Not my will, but thine be done”. In portuguese, the word will is translated as “Vontade”. When the people describe a loss of desire, they say “I’ve lost the ‘vontade'”. We have to explain to them that obedience to God’s commandments and keeping our commitments to Him is not matter of “vontade” but a matter of integrity. When we submit our will to His, He gives us the “vontade” once again. But the hard part of this life is reading when you don’t have the time, praying when you don’t feel the desire, and going to church even though you may have temporarily lost the “vontade”. It seems that those in this life who are motivated by duty and not desire end up with the most admirable desires in the end. May we all not be victims of our desires, but rather dedicated servants to our duties. Loyalty is not affection and affiliation in the easy times, but unshakeable alliance in the hard times. God doesn’t need friends, he needs allies. Christ doesn’t need admirers, he needs disciples.