December 26-January 1
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It is a new year, and for this week in Come Follow Me, we are discussing our responsibility to learn about the gospel. I have many strong beliefs about gospel learning, but let’s talk about three of those beliefs.
I believe that unless we’re spending time with God in the scriptures every single day, we are living far beneath our privileges.
I believe that there are signs of the Lord hastening His work and we will find ourselves woefully unprepared if we don’t invest time in learning about the gospel.
I believe that if we could taste of the blessings that can come from daily scripture study accumulated over years, we would desperately wish that we started years ago.
That may be dramatic, but I also believe it’s the truth.
Beneath our privileges
By no merit of our own, we have been offered privileges as children of God. It’s important to note that we have been offered these gifts; these gifts were not dropped off, set up, and installed for us.
These privileges include feelings of belonging and safety. It includes the privilege of knowing that God stands behind you, completely aware of and in control of all the circumstances we find ourselves in. Whether or not He chooses to take away some of the difficult circumstances is irrelevant; He is in control, but His purposes go far beyond our simple comfort.
Note the words I highlighted. Our privileges, especially in this life, involve feeling and knowing deep down that you have nothing to fear.
Many of us choose to live without those privileges when we choose to do everything on our daily lists except for spending time in the word of God. It doesn’t matter if God is the ultimate power in the universe and it doesn’t matter that He adores you and supports you if you don’t actually believe it. He will not force you to believe Him or love Him, and so we choose to remain anxious and stressed rather than choosing to build our conversion by getting to know Jesus Christ through His word.
We can profess belief all we want but until it’s ingrained in our hearts, it’s not going to do much to change our lives. The Israelites believed enough to follow Moses out of Egypt. However, the moment they hit that first obstacle at the Red Sea, they were terrified. They had not yet had the opportunity to spend more time with the Lord. It had not yet sunk into who they were, and so it did nothing to change how they felt about mortal life or the eternities.
Being able to truly believe in Christ (to the point where it’s written into who you are) takes time. It takes effort to remember Him. It takes effort to spend time with Him so that when you hit those obstacles, your knee-jerk reaction is to trust that you can overcome the world with the Creator of the world.
Prepared for the hastening
I feel like I see the hastening everywhere and learning about the gospel is essential to being prepared for the Second Coming.
You can see the signs of the times out in the world. The earth is in commotion, and the hearts of men are failing them. The Gentiles are rejecting the gospel, and there is renewed emphasis on gathering the literal House of Israel.
More importantly, I can see the church changing in response to this hastening. There have been many examples of this. Lowering the mission age was one of the first ones I remember. I am overwhelmed when I think about how many women are serving missions and are coming home prepared to teach the gospel to the next generation both at home and in church. I think we’ve only begun to see the blessings that will come from strengthening these future mothers. The most recent sign I’ve seen is the Strength of Youth pamphlet. My husband was teasing me about how excited I got. BUT IT IS A BIG DEAL. We have reached a point in the history of the world where the next generation of spirits coming to earth will be able to handle the notion of living by principles rather than rules. Imagine how powerful it will be to teach our children to pay close attention to the Spirit and to how they feel as they put on clothes to represent themselves. Imagine the power of teaching the youth to follow how they feel as they go out on dates or as they approach media. The incoming youth can handle the responsibility of following the Spirit; they have been prepared for this time.
So the world is going crazy and the righteous are becoming the kind of people who can welcome in the Savior.
The world is going to get worse; are you going to become the kind of person who can welcome in the Savior? Our day is supposed to reflect the Helaman and 3 Nephi. I don’t know if you remember what happens right before the Savior visits the Americas, but it would be utterly terrifying without the solid knowledge that the Savior is coming. When you’re sitting in the darkness, what will your thoughts be? “What if none of this was true?” or “It’s just a little bit longer; I know He’s coming.”
How you feel on the day those earthquakes hit will largely be determined by how much time you invest in converting today. How you feel when the Savior returns will be determined by small and simple daily gospel learning.
The kind of courage, spiritual stamina, strength, and peace you will need to survive the Second Coming does not happen overnight. It has to be acquired a little at a time.
Prepare for His coming on purpose. Invest time. Engage with the Lord so that you know Him when He comes.
Taste of the blessings
My daily scripture study habit started a long time ago with my Type-A personality. I learned that scripture study was a commandment, and my perfectionism at the time refused to let anything fall through the cracks. I kept my scriptures right by my bed so that when I laid down to sleep, I could flip it open, read a verse, glean approximately nothing, and then go to sleep knowing I had “kept” the commandments.
Luckily, that habit developed. Though I didn’t get much out of it then, it changed my life because it grew into something more. It grew into more reading. On my mission it turned into studying. After my mission, it turned into a desperate attempt to figure out whether I should marry Conner. It evolved and evolved and evolved.
If I could go back and show my younger self about the blessings that she would be bringing into her life with that miniscule effort, I think my younger self would have tried even harder. I actually think about it often. If only I had been able to develop a relationship with the Lord sooner, my whole life would have been different. If only I had woken up and realized the peace that I could have lived with for so long, if only I could have realized the direction and assurances I could have felt, if only I could have had the Spirit with me more fully…how I acted and felt would have been so much better. My relationships with others would have been so much better.
If you do not yet have a gospel study habit, I deeply wish that I could show you what I feel. I wish you could have even a portion of what the Lord has given me because of this small habit.
Slowly and conscientiously building a relationship with a good friend can make all the difference in your life. Knowing there is someone there to validate you, have your back, and mourn with you makes life so much easier to bear.
Imagine the difference if you also built that relationship with a perfect Friend.
I leave you with this.
2 Nephi 31:19-20
19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
I believe so much of that “eternal” life we desire can happen right now. Everything we are seeking can be our’s. We don’t have to wait. We do have to work, whether in this life or the next.
I’m grateful for a Savior who has given us the Come Follow Me program and for how it’s changed my life and home.