Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Worth of One Soul

Every minute of every day, every week and month all year long, representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are actively serving God and their fellow beings as missionaries around the world. 

The Church currently have approximately 53,000 young men and women serve as full-time missionaries, giving every waking minute of every day to sharing a message of significance to every human being. As Gordon B Hinckley said "The sun never sets on this work of the Lord as it is touching the lives of people across the earth."

There are of course many reasons that young men and women are giving up their time to serve as missionaries but perhaps Heber J. Grant best explained the continued motivation: "There is no other labor in all the world that brings to a human heart, judging from my own personal experience, more joy, peace and serenity than proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Serving a mission is not an absolute must. Gordon B. Hinckley has suggested that a mission is not a rite of passage. Many young people who wants to go are not able and some who go are not able to stay as long as they had intended but all should prepare to serve a mission, spiritually, scholastically, mentally and physically. President Monson in the October 2011 General Conference, repeated what prophets before him have taught, that: "Every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty and obligation the Lord expects of us, who have been given so very much."

Preparation for missionary work is paramount for a successful mission. President Monson has taught: "Missionary work is difficult, it taxes ones energies, it strains ones capacity, it demands ones best effort. No other labor requires longer hours or greater devotion or such sacrifice and fervent prayer. As a result of that sacrifice we return from our missions with our own gifts, the gift of faith, the gift of testimony, the gift of understanding the role of the Spirit, the gift of daily gospel study, the gift of having served our Savior."

A mission is indeed a sacrifice and hard work. So why do people put themselves through such a rigorous ordeal? A possible answer and very good reason can be found in the book "Doctrine & Covenants:" 

Doctrine & Covenants 18:10
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

Helping another person to access the blessings of the atonement, seeing lives change as people discover the peace found in aligning choices and priorities with the directions found in God's words, is a reward of unimaginable proportions.

A mission is an experience on such a scale that it becomes a milestone in the lives of those who served it wholehearted and with commitment. It has become a worn out cliche to refer to a mission as the "Best two years" of ones life.  This is a thought that I myself have never been that comfortable with. My wife and I both served missions. All our three sons either served or are currently serving missions and I would like to think that greater things are yet to come. Don't let it all be downhill from here, don't let a mission be the pinnacle of an entire lifetime. There is life after a mission, to both build and climb new and greater pinnacles than ever before.

Elder W. Christopher Waddell tells us that there is no returned missionary for whom it is too late to considerer the lessons obtained through faithful service and to apply them more diligently. As we do so we will feel the Spirit more fully in our lives, our families will be strengthened and we will draw closer to our Savior and Father in Heaven.

In a previous General Conference Elder L. Tom Perry extended this invitation: "I call on you returned missionaries to rededicate yourselves, to become re-infused with the desire and Spirit of missionary service. I call on you to look the part, to be the part and to act the part, a servant of our Father in Heaven. I want to promise you there are great blessings in store for you if you continue to press forward with the zeal you once possessed as a full-time missionary."

The atonement is not just for the many people we teach as missionaries but also for ourselves and entirely for our benefit. The atonement is why we do we do missionary work, it is what we share, it is what we seek and it is the most beautiful gift of all. When we sing the hymn “I Stand All Amazed” I am reminded of His great gift, the atonement:

Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, #193

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

The worth of one soul, the worth of your one soul, is great in the eyes of God. I ask for God's eternal blessings to be with everyone of you, that you may have, see and recognize God's hand in your lives and seek Him in all your decisions and needs. 

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