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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lessons from the 3 Nephites

BJ and I were talking about the three Nephites today when, in typical BJ fashion, he exclaimed excitedly, "But, like, Tianna! They're real!" We talked for a long time about the logistics of the three Nephites being real. We speculated about if they own a house somewhere, or perhaps they live in a cave in a desert that only transfigured/translated/etc. people can go. (I pointed out that if only people who are transfigured/translated/etc. people can go there, it'd probably be a little nicer than a cave in a desert.) We speculated about logistics like if they pay taxes or have an SSN. What if they didn't live in the US? When do they say their birthday is? 12 BC? Do they have an equivalent of an Obliviate charm?

Once the obligatory speculation session winded down a bit, we started into actual spiritual and doctrinal discussion. Not that everything we discussed is official Church doctrine, but it was at least discussed with a serious air, with the Spirit joining our discussion. After a while of discussing what they might be doing and how John the Beloved was also on the earth doing the same thing, BJ very humbly asked, "Could I do that? Like, if I wanted to stay on earth with them, could I?"

I thought this was a remarkably insightful question. Could we, like those four faithful men of old, choose to stay on the earth and serve and bring others to Christ instead of dying? There are many story lines based around the things people will do in order to keep from dying. This sounds very much like that. The Angel of Death is at your door and as he's pulling you through you shout, "Wait! No! I don't want to die! I'll make you a deal. If I can stay on earth, I will serve and bring people to Christ for the rest of my life!" Lame. Serving others is not a bargaining tool; it is not something you do as a last ditch effort to save yourself. The three Nephites and John were not looking for a way to escape death, rather they looked upon death as an end to their service, which was a fate worse than death. The thought of not being to able to serve their brethren and share the gospel of Christ was too much for them, so they begged to stay.

The question then is, are we living that way now? Are we striving to share the gospel and serve our fellowmen? When we die, if we ask to stay and serve, God will know the intents of our hearts. If we're asking in order to postpone death, we're asking for the wrong reasons. Rather, God would look at our entire lifestyle to see if spreading the gospel and serving others is something we are already doing.

BJ and I both agreed that it's that lifestyle we should be striving for... not because we want to ask God if we can stay on the earth forever, but because that is the kind of people we both want to become. Sounds simple enough, right? But to be very honest, sharing the gospel is a very scary thing for me. It's not something I've had a lot of opportunity to do. I've lived in Mormonville, Idaho or Utah my entire life. When I've lived in other countries, they're countries that I have solemnly agreed not to share the gospel in. I simply have never been given an easy opportunity to speak openly about the gospel to non-members; I don't know many non-members. Having no experience in this area, I am far from my comfort zone. When BJ suggested that we pray for missionary experiences daily, I actually shuddered. Don't get me wrong; I want to share the gospel and bring others to Christ... but can't I do it just as I am currently doing it? Can't I just be an example and share my testimony in Church? Can't I have gospel discussions when the topic is laid at my feet? Must I really actively search out opportunities? The thought is truly frightening to me. (Part of me doesn't want to write this because it means that I am openly admitting one of my weaknesses to the world, but I feel that the only way I can grow is to be honest with myself and with the world; it doesn't do anyone any good if I pretend to be someone I am not.)

There is one key point that I never give enough credit. I truly believe that God can do anything. I do not, however, have enough faith in myself. The point I forget? That God has the power to help me do anything that He wants me to do. Thus, instead of praying for missionary experiences daily, I am going to start praying for the courage to accept missionary experiences. I am going to pray to become willing to seek out those opportunities. I don't have to have the faith and courage of John the Beloved right now. But I do need to take a step in that direction. These are my baby steps. Thankfully, God looketh upon the heart.

One last thing on this already-too-long post. While in Jerusalem, my friend, Rebecca, commented to me that if missionary work is bringing souls to Christ, then any time we do anything to bring someone, member or not, closer to Christ, we have been missionaries. If posting this blog serves only as an outlet to focus my thoughts to bring myself closer to Christ, I have succeeded in my goal today.