We had kind of a slow week again. But! We did get to contact a bunch of less-actives and potential investigators in Bluff City, and yesterday we had a good lesson with a cool part-member family, the Bartons. We shared Elder Christofferson's "Daily Bread: Pattern" Mormon Message (whoa, that was a lot of capital letters) and had a discussion with them about the importance of daily scripture study and prayer and seeking for nourishment and answers from God. They talked about how they're about to go through a really difficult time, and how holding fast to the word of God has helped them through things in the past. It was good. And we played racquetball today! That was good too.
I was studying this morning to learn more about why the Lord doesn't always immediately stretch out His hand to help us when we are going through something hard, even when we are living righteously. I was reading in 3 Nephi when the Savior is quoting Isaiah and His words really stood out to me:
For thy maker, thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel--the God of the whole earth shall he be called.
...For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
...For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
...In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.
Behold, they shall surely gather together against thee, not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
The Lord's purposes and love for us are so much greater than we can see from our perspective. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, and our God. He will not break the covenants He has made with us for our peace. He tries us and lets us struggle so we can grow. And He is never far away, even if we can't always feel Him near. He cares about us too much to let us fail if we are doing our best to follow Him. Consider it a sign of His love and trust if you are given an opportunity to struggle. And His grace will enable us to overcome things we never would have been able to overcome on our own. Whatever you are struggling with, know that He has a purpose for letting you struggle. He is the Master and Creator and He knows what you need. And He trusts you to learn it, which is why He gave it to you. And He is never far away. Turn to Him in prayer and you'll find the strength you need to get through each day (see the Daily Bread: Experience Mormon message).
My mom sent a quote from President Howard W Hunter in her email that I like a lot:
"Please remember this one thing. If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.”
I love you all! Make yourselves a great week! :)
Elder Alex Swindler
1) Seems legit. Let's go tracting, Elder!
2-3) Pretty Southern sunset
4-5) Pretty view from someone's backyard. :)