Sunday, November 2, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #111

Obedience and Faith
Your obedience and your faith are directly related.  Obedience is an act of faith.  It is something you just willingly do out of duty or commitment.  Certain temptations may always seem attractive to you, so obedience may never be easy.  You are simply expected to choose to be obedient.  Further, to paraphrase President Benson, when obedience ceases to be an irritant, then it can become a blessing. A long as you justify yourself and make excuses for lack of obedience, obedience is an irritant.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  (1 Sam. 15: 22)

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  (Isa. 1:19)

When I was 52 years old, my doctors told me that a small congenital defect in the mitral valve of my heart had really worsened.  I needed open heart surgery to repair or replace the valve.  At that time, I was playing early morning basketball with some guys 3 or 4 times per week and I felt fine, but my heart had begun to enlarge due to the extra work it had to do.  I could easily have been one of those statistics who dies of sudden, unforeseen heart attack.  But, thanks to a pre-camp physical required to attend a Boy Scouting Adult Leadership Training (Woodbadge) that year, the problem was detected in time.

This news came at a very inconvenient time with all my activities and responsibilities, so I decided that I would schedule surgery to occur after about 4 weeks.  But, I received a clear spiritual prompting to hurry and do the operation.  That caught my attention, so obediently, I immediately underwent the surgery thinking I was avoiding an untimely death.

The operation went well so on 13 September 2001, I received a titanium mitral valve with a long scar on my chest to prove it.  The damaged valve was worse than expected.  Afterward, the surgeon said, “I don’t know what was keeping that man alive.”  I literally received, “a great change of heart.”

The day after the operation, my heart began growing weaker.  It simply pumped less blood each heartbeat.  I was in trouble.  My father, at the time, was serving as Stake Patriarch in the Fillmore Utah Stake. He and my mother visited us in the hospital in Salt Lake City, so my wife asked him to give me a priesthood blessing of healing.  That seemed to be a good idea to me, so he did.

The prayer or blessing he spoke was strange.  He spoke through the whole prayer in the past tense.  So for example, in place of saying, “I bless you with health,” which I wanted to hear, he said something like this, “It is a pleasure to have been your father.” He expressed much about his feelings towards me.  I started thinking that the end for me might be at hand.  A few days later my father passed away.

Remembering my promptings to hurry with the surgery, I realized that I was not the one close to completing my assignments here on earth; my father was.  Those promptings were a tender mercy from the Lord.  Like Nephi, what a blessing it was for me to receive a blessing from my father right before the end of his life.  I am grateful for the words of the blessing which guide me still today.  The blessing would never have occurred without my obedience to those promptings.  My faith grew because of my obedience.

You are expected to obey your spiritual promptings as I did in this instance.  You are also expected to obey the commandments, mission rules and your leaders.  PMG states:

“As a missionary, you are expected to keep the commandments willingly, to obey mission rules, and to follow the counsel of your leaders.  Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand.  As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom.  Strive to be obedient to the Lord, the living prophet, and your mission president.”   (PMG p. 122)

The statement, “As you obey, you increase in faith…” has huge implications.  Your faith in Jesus Christ and faith to find and baptize are, therefore, attached to and are a result of your obedience.  In short, if you want more faith to find and baptize then strive to be more obedient.  

Let’s be honest, we experience mediocre baptism results in the Belgium Netherlands Mission.  We average slightly less than 1 baptism per missionary per year.  I firmly believe that the heart and mind of missionaries, our expectations, is what changes things in the mission field.  When we change our heart and mind, we will change our results.  Our heart and mind is our faith.  Alma 32 teaches how faith is your heart and mind and how it grows.  To grow is to spring up and develop to maturity.

…give place that a seed may be planted in your heart… vs.28

If the growing seed swells in your souls…your understanding doth begin to be enlightened and your mind doth begin to expand… vs. 34

…faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. vs. 21

PMG states that obedience increases your faith.  Increase is to become or make greater in size, amount, or degree and happens after growth from a seed.  Obedience is how the heart and mind are changed, so if you are going to change your baptism results on your Mission, you must be more obedient.  Take critical inventory of yourself.  Strive to be more obedient by following promptings, the Missionary Handbook, the commandments, principles laid out in PMG and instruction from the Mission President.  When you do this you will increase in faith including your faith to find and baptize. 

President Robinson

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