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October 13, 2014

How I can always remember Him?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ryan Best @ 3:22 pm
As I contemplated this topic (and maybe I analyzed the sentence a little too closely) an important thought came to me: To truly keep our covenants we must remember our Savior and then by always remembering our Savior we will be more inclined and able to keep our covenants. It’s a wonderful catch 22! And maybe it doesn’t matter which one we do first. some of us may be more action people that are better at being really obedient and then by their obedience they are better able to always remember the Savior, and then some of us may be more inclined to be thoughtful and we may spend more time thinking of the Savior and then when we do that, it naturally helps us keep our covenants and keep the commandments. I figure if we fall under either of those categories we will end up where Heavenly Father wants us to be.

First I want to talk about our covenants, what they mean, and how we may better keep them.

In Bonnie D. Parkins talk “Celebrating Covenants” she said:
“So often we talk of making and keeping covenants, but exactly what are they? At baptism, we demonstrate that we “are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;… mourn with those that mourn;… comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and… stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:8–9).”

The members of this ward and community are people who are amazing examples who have shown their willingness to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

As most of you know, our 15 year old son Chase was diagnosed with cancer in January. To put it mildly, the last few months have been challenging. However, sometimes it is during the most difficult times in life that we see the best in people and experience the most amazing things. From the very beginning, we had an outpouring of love from people who wanted to help, and this was a great example of covenant keeping in action. From the first day after receiving the news of Chase’s diagnosis having Heidi Prosser bring us pizza for dinner, to the paper hearts covering our front door from the beehive class in Young Women’s, to the countless cards and letters of encouragement, to meals being brought over, the months of receiving random treats, Tim Hanna and the young men always being supportive and caring and even setting up Skype so Chase could attend his priesthood meetings and activities and adjusting their plans for scout camp so Chase could be included, and most recently the “Race for Chase” 5k last weekend, it’s been absolutely incredible to experience the service, thoughtfulness and love that has been shown to our family. In fact, after the first several weeks of Chase’s treatment when things were  really at their worst for Chase, he said to me, “You know Mom, I will probably look back on this time as one of the hardest times of my life, but I will also look back as it being one of the best times because of all of the amazing love and kindness I’m receiving. I didn’t realize how much people cared about me and our family.”

Because of thoughtful members in our ward keeping their covenants to be like the Savior, we felt His love in a unique and beautiful way.

In the sacrament prayer we promise to take upon us the name of Christ and always remember Him and keep the commandments that he has given us, and if we do those things that we can always have his spirit with us.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “To be baptized is to enter into a covenant [with God] … to do, not merely to refrain from doing, to work righteousness as well as to avoid evil”.

I can keep my covenants by obeying commandments like being honest and truthful, forgiving others as well as myself, not judging others, living a virtuous life, paying tithing, and keeping the Sabbath day holy just to name a few. The list goes on and on. Sometimes it can be an overwhelming thing to think about all of the things I need to be doing as well as the list of things I shouldn’t be doing.

One of the most wonderful things about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that he doesn’t give us a long list of do’s and don’ts without any help. We are given the Holy Ghost to guide us as we strive to keep the commandments.
In Moroni 10:4-5 it reads:  “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

When I think of this scripture I usually think of it referring to gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, however, it applies to anything that we want to gain a testimony of.
I think it is OK to recognize that some commandments are more difficult to keep than others and all of us have our own weaknesses and challenges. I also believe that if I will go to Heavenly Father and listen to the Holy Ghost I will be given answers, whether they are answers to questions about the gospel, answers to which paths that I should take in life, or even just answers to help me gain a testimony about commandments that I’ve been given that I may not understand the reason.
In my own life I have been blessed multiple times with instructions to work and provide for my family. This was a concern for me for a long time because I felt like since we are encouraged as women to stay at home and be the nurturers in the family that these blessings I received meant I was destined to be a single mother. I look back at that logic and realize how off the mark I was. It took prayer and following the guidance of the spirit to realize that my path was supposed to be different and that even though I work and I’m not single, I am still following the path that Heavenly Father meant for me.
I truly believe that part of keeping my covenants is listening to the Holy Ghost and making sure that I am following the path that Heavenly Father intends specifically for me.
Our Heavenly Father is kind and wants to help me succeed in keeping my covenants. Just like any other loving parent, He asks me to keep commandments that will help me in my life and then is there to help me succeed. This reminds me of a situation with Stacie, my 13 year old daughter. She recently decided that she wanted to participate in a week-long a cappella vocal camp this summer. I thought that was a great idea and encouraged her to do it, but it was a very expensive camp. As a way to make sure she was committed to going and help her value her experience there, we required that she pay for half of it. Even though she was motivated to earn the necessary money, she knew it was going to be a lot of work. About a month ago she decided that a good way to earn money would be to sell cinnamon rolls to our neighbors. She found a great recipe, practiced making them, and then took photos of the rolls and posted them on facebook. The orders came in and she was really excited, but with the delivery times she promised and the volume of cinnamon rolls she needed to make, she needed my help. A lot of help. For 2 weekends I helped her bake cinnamon rolls well into the night each Friday so they would be ready first thing in the morning. Even though I was requiring something difficult from her, and it was something that she would not have been able to accomplish by herself, I was there to help her through and succeed in spite of the challenges she was facing. Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ do the exact same thing.

So even though keeping the commandments and keeping our covenants may seem impossible at times, our Heavenly Father is there to help me and when I fall short our Savior is there to make up the difference.

Referencing Bonnie D. Parkins “Celebrating Covenants” talk again, she continues to say: “Father in Heaven knows us as individuals. The covenants we make with Him are performed one on one. President Howard W. Hunter noted: “I have always been impressed that the Lord deals with us personally, individually. We do many things in groups in the Church, but the most important things are done individually. We bless babies one at a time, even if they are twins or triplets. We baptize and confirm children one at a time. We take the sacrament, are ordained to the priesthood, or move through the ordinances of the temple as individuals—as one person developing a [personal] relationship with our Father in Heaven. … Heaven’s emphasis is on each individual, on every single person” These individual commitments made directly with our Heavenly Father are things to celebrate. Do you remember what happened when Alma invited his people to make covenants? They celebrated! They “clapped their hands with joy.” I wonder why our covenants so often feel more like obligations than privileges.”

It’s easy to look at the commandments and even our covenants as burdens and obligations but when I have felt this way I like to remember an analogy I was told once about kites. The question was asked in this story, “what is the most important thing a kite needs to make it fly? Most people referred to the wind or the strength of the wings, but the instructor asking the question said that, while all of those are good answers, the string that holds the kite to the ground is what actually allows the kite to stay in the air. I’m sure all of us who have flown kites have experienced a kite flying high and strong, only to have the string break and have it plummet to the ground. In this analogy the string represents our covenants. This analogy helps me remember that as I keep my covenants, I will experience true happiness and peace and a further desire to be even more true to our Savior. My covenants are meant to help me reach my highest potential, not hold me back.

I think that the most important part of keeping my covenants is repentance. There is no such thing in this life as perfect obedience and even though I try to do what’s right, and I try to keep the commandments, and I renew my covenants with my Heavenly Father each week, and I promise to always remember Him, I know that I will always fall short.

I love this quote from Brad Wilcox in the book Continuous Atonement when he is talking about a young man blessing the sacrament and not getting it right the first time. He said,
“Although the sacramental prayers had to be perfect, and that expectation could not be lowered, the priest was given a second chance, and a third–as many times as it took. There was no trapdoor that opened up once he had gone too far. The bishop simply nodded and the young priesthood holder started over until he finally got the prayer right. No matter how many mistakes were made and corrected along the way, the final outcome was counted as perfect and acceptable.”

This is a perfect example of how the Savior views our efforts to keep our covenants. No matter how many mistakes are made and how many times we are corrected along the way, if we continue to repent and continue to make an effort to keep our covenants, the final outcome will be counted as perfect and acceptable.

President Uchtdorf said: “The heavens will not be filled with those who never made mistakes but with those who recognized that they were off course and who corrected their ways to get back in the light of gospel truth.”

In an effort to keep our covenants it requires constant course correction. Pres. Uchtdorf has talked many times about how during a flight a pilot must continually make corrections to make sure they stay on course. It is the same in life. I know that if I will continually check my course and make necessary corrections it will make it easier to stay true to my covenants, and make sure I don’t get too far off course.

Pres. Uchtdorf relayed this tragic story:
In 1979 a large passenger jet with 257 people on board left New Zealand for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica and back. Unknown to the pilots, however, someone had modified the flight coordinates by a mere two degrees. This error placed the aircraft 28 miles (45 km) to the east of where the pilots assumed they were. As they approached Antarctica, the pilots descended to a lower altitude to give the passengers a better look at the landscape. Although both were experienced pilots, neither had made this particular flight before, and they had no way of knowing that the incorrect coordinates had placed them directly in the path of Mount Erebus, an active volcano that rises from the frozen landscape to a height of more than 12,000 feet (3,700 m).
As the pilots flew onward, the white of the snow and ice covering the volcano blended with the white of the clouds above, making it appear as though they were flying over flat ground. By the time the instruments sounded the warning that the ground was rising fast toward them, it was too late. The airplane crashed into the side of the volcano, killing everyone on board.
It was a terrible tragedy brought on by a minor error—a matter of only a few degrees.

This is a very sad story that illustrates how small errors can end up influencing our lives in big ways. I know that if I will continually check my course and make necessary corrections, it makes it easier to stay true to my covenants, and make sure I don’t get too far off course.
In closing I want to quote Pres. James E. Faust: : “You’re doing better than you think you are!”
I think we have a tendency in the church to be too hard on our selves. I think sometimes we forget that our state of imperfection is part of the plan of salvation and that we are given our imperfections so that we will turn to our Savior. I know if I continue to strive to keep my covenants, obey the commandments, and repent as I fall short, I will continue to grow close to my Savior and I know that in spite of my imperfections and mistakes, He loves me.

I want to close with another quote from Pres. Uchtdorf:

 “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” 

By: Angie Bynum

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