HELLO, Sorry, this weeks email is kind of long, I promise that all of it was directed by the spirit so please read and know that there is something in here for you. Something that God wants YOU to know.
This week sister Child's shared with me a talk given by Mark Alden Callister at a BYU devotional titled, "LOST AND FOUND". I would like to invite you all to read it. I learned a very important lesson from it. In the talk brother Callister mentions an account from Ezekiel 47 where Ezekiel is showed the temple in a dream. An angel then directs him to notice the water that is flowing from the temple into the desert, measures 1000 cubits, and brings him that far into the waters. After walking in 1000 cubits he finds that the water is at his ankles.
The angel then measures 1000 cubits and brings him that far into that water which was then at his knees. He does is again and the water is at his waist and again until he says in verse 5: "and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim
in, a river that could not be passed over." Then the angel says "son of man, hast you seen this?" In this scripture the waters of the river are to symbolize the LOVE OF CHRIST. In verse 9 It says that every living thing shall be HEALED by the power of the waters and anything that comes to the waters shall LIVE.
Ezekiel was not meant to only have an ankle deep experience with the love of Christ and neither are we! We aren't just meant to dip a toe into the river, notice that the journey of discipleship is difficult and then return to the comfort and safety of the shore. NO! We are
meant to be deep in the "waters" and have our "afflictions...swallowed up in the joy of Christ" -Alma 31:38 Yes choosing to enter the water is scary. We don't swim very well and
are often weary of the depths and unseen trials that lie ahead (HYMN #97). When we get deep enough, our toes lift off the bottom and we can no longer hold onto our former comfort of solid ground. But we must let go. We must go as deep as we can. Give everything to the Lord. Our worldly comforts, burdens, sorrows, fears, sins which do easily beset us. Everything! Lift our heels off the bottom, take a breath and immerse ourselves in the deepest part of the river. Becoming a completely consecrated follower of Jesus Christ is the only way we can feel the fullness of the blessings of His love. (like the consecrated missionary talk I mentioned in an earlier letter). The deepest part of the river can be the hardest part to swim through but it is the most rewarding. (HYMN #105)
For those who feel they are having trouble just entering the river remember that the entire river represents the love of Christ... So even in fear and in trials we are experiencing those things for our good because our Heavenly Father loves us. He knows better than we do and provided us a Savior so that we are never alone. Every drop of the water in the river of discipleship is LOVE. In our stake conference a while ago the temple President said: "You know why people fall out of bed...? They don't get in far enough! You know why people fall out of the church...? They don't get in far enough!" That is truth! If we don't experience the love of Christ deeply in their lives, it is easy to feel lost or alone, sin, leave the church, or deny the existence of God or the influence of the Savior.
It is certainly not Chris's love that is lacking in this situation. The love of Christ is constant, unchanging, complete, and everlasting. The river is always there, always flowing and always represents the love of Christ. So it must be our personal efforts that are insufficient if we don't feel the Love of Christ deeply within our lives.
In order to help you feel the love of Christ deeply in your life I would like to ask you the same question that the Angel asks Ezekiel as he is deep in the waters of the river:
"HAST THOU SEEN THIS?" HAVE YOU SEEN THE LOVE OF CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE?
Remember that the Angel doesn't ask him that question until he is in the water so take your first step into the river (read your scriptures, pray, go to church, repent, talk to the Bishop) and you will be able to answer that question confidently with an overwhelming YES! The love of our Savior Jesus Christ is real in your life. Hindsight is 20/20...so reflect on the past. Read an old journal entry or ponder on times when you have felt the love of our Heavenly Father of the Redeeming power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. You will find that there have been times in your life when you have followed a prompting to walk deep into the river ... And you have felt Chris's love. I leave with you a PROMISE, as a representative of Jesus Christ, that has also been promised to you by prophets and apostles throughout time, that you are loved by our Heavenly Father individually and perfectly today, yesterday and forever, and that the atonement of Jesus Christ is real. In order to feel this love all you need to do is look. 3 Nephi 27:29 Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
*I especially love this story because as missionaries in Arizona we are literally bring the water into the desert as the scripture says. We are bringing the Love of Christ to those who have never known of or felt it in their lives. They are living in a desert-like state without the love or redemption of our Savior and we are privileged enough to be the ones to measure 1000 cubits and lead them deeper into the love of Christ. Missionary work is amazing!
There is a new Mormon Message that the church recently released called REFLECTIONS: Am I even a good man?
This is what I invite you to do...
1. Pull out a piece of paper and a pencil- this is an act of faith, showing Heavenly Father that you are prepared to record the impressions you will receive from the spirit. If you do this and if you are prepared He will speak to you through the Holy Ghost. 1 Samuel 3:9 "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth"
2. WATCH The video once... Pause after watching it and think about what you saw and what the overall message is. Discuss as a family or think in your mind about what God wants you to learn from watching this Mormon Message personally and as a family.
3. RECORD your impressions... Write what the spirit tells you, what you feel, not necessarily what the words of the Mormon message were.
4. WATCH IT AGAIN- This time listen to the fathers voice. Pay attention to when it speaks, what it says, and how closely that resembles our Heavenly Father's tone and voice and message to us.
5. WRITE down your impressions
The first time I watched this Mormon Message it brought me to tears: It had been a hard day earlier and my concerns were focused on me not feeling good enough, comparing myself to others and not feeling like I could do all that I have been asked to do. We went to a members house for dinner who we are really close to and asked if for our dinner message we could watch this video. We all gathered around the couch and watched as the spirit spoke different things to our hearts. When we finished I had the feeling that is Mormon message had a very special meaning to me. At the part where the son asks "Am I even a
good man?" I could hear myself praying to Heavenly Father earlier and asking "Am I even a good missionary?" ...The answer to my prayer came in the Father's response: "I always thought you were a good missionary." I shared my earlier feelings of inadequacy and doubt. I said "just earlier today I got on my knees and asked how I could do this. I didn't feel like there was any way I could possibly be a successful missionary, and become all the things that I so sincerely want to become." My eyes, now wet with tears looked at each family member who was feeling the spirit. I said "I feel that if God were here He would answer me the same way that that loving father answered his downtrodden son "Sister Zimmerman, I always thought you were a good missionary." Our trials have a purpose. They are to produce spiritual growth. Not often do they happen in the way we desire or always come with a clear explanation for their purpose, but we can bear our afflictions with confidence knowing that God will NEVER give up on us. There is always HOPE through our Savior Jesus Christ. Not only do I know, but I more clearly understand that Heavenly Father loves His children.
To finish here are some selected words to the later verses of a glorious Hymn. I hope they inspire you to know that God loves you and everything will work out!
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.