The Lord’s work and glory is to bring all of His children to a full happiness and joy and having all of us live with Him again. Here are a few examples of how many of the Lord’s children are coming to Him and the wonderful effect they have had and continue to have on all the people around them.
1. The Moments We Stand
There are few of us whose lives have been as heavily dosed with heartache and loss as that of Ashlee Birk. Her decision and dedication to share her story with the world is remarkable. Ashlee had a wonderful family with five beautiful children. Although blessed with all the makings of hope and happiness, Ashlee watched in despair as her husband, Emmett, became distant, angry and hurtful. Whatever Ashlee’s suspicions were as to the cause of his sudden change, nothing could’ve prepared her for what was coming next. One night, in the midst of the most harrowing feelings that something was very very wrong, two detectives appeared at her door to tell her that her husband Emmett had been shot and killed by his lover’s husband. She writes on her blog,
“I remember walking into my closet that night to beg Heavenly Father for a ‘do over.’ I begged Him for answers to why all of this was real. I fell to my knees and pleaded for the peace that I needed. “The most peaceful feeling came over my body. A still, small voice whispered to my heart: “BE STILL . . . I have been here, and I am still here. Angels have guarded this home and each of you. None of that has changed. It will be hard, but you have to keep moving forward. You have to have faith for a brighter day, which will come as long as you keep protecting these sweet children and having faith in Me. “You are not alone. You have been watched over, and I am proud of you. I believe in you. Now is the time when you have to decide if your testimony has been in your perfect life and your husband, or if your testimony is in Me. Ashlee, be still. Breathe. You did all you could. You did your best. I am so proud of you. “You were an amazing wife; you are an incredible mother. You are still you. Do not let this define who you will become. You are still the Ashlee you have always been, and I see so much good in you. Believe in yourself and do not doubt who you are because of the pain you now feel so deeply. Find forgiveness and peace. This is the time to find the beauty that is still all around you. Make the world a better place for those children I have blessed you with. I will carry you when it gets unbearable, but I need you to STAND.”
Her story is full of pain and heartache but in it there is hope, light and power manifested through the blessings of people coming to her aid, prayers answered by faithful friends and love manifested in Ashlee’s motherly love for her children. After months and years of work and loss and rejuvenation, Ashlee decided to write her story, of standing in the face of all those experiences that could have destroyed her, to share with the world her testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the love of our Heavenly Father for all of his children. Her blog details the journey of her and her family and she finds in every circumstance, a way to bring the stories back into a message of her growth in the gospel. Ashlee has used her hardest moments to share the good news and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the rest of the world through her blog. I encourage everyone to take a leaf out of Ashlee’s book and to allow your stories of growth and trial and faith to help further the work of Christ. In Ashlee’s own words,
“This is my story . . . the defining moments that have truly brought me to my knees, the times when I’ve questioned to my core my very existence, and the experiences I’ve had that have shown me who I really am and who my Heavenly Father still needs me to become. “The night of my husband’s death was my darkest hour, but also the very moment when I saw firsthand that my Heavenly Father sent Angels on errands for me. He carried me. It was the hour when all my fears and all the pain of this world collided together and He was there . . . putting back together all the pieces, one step at a time.”
2. Suffer the Little Children
Elder Caleb Price was being trained in the first area of his mission in Tacoma, WA when he and his companion sought out a less active member of their ward named Nicole (her and her son’s names have been changed). Nicole had suffered a great deal in her life, including struggling with drug abuse, abusive relationships and making ends meet for her and her children. Her home teachers, however, were nothing short of some of the most dedicated men Elder Price had ever come in contact with. They never judged her and were constantly encouraging her to come back to church and find fellowship in the fold of Christ. Their encouragement seemed relatively ineffective and Elder Price was transferred out of the area soon after. In the last few months of his mission, on a cloudy February day, Elder Price found himself returning to that area and coming back to Nicole’s house. After he and his companion knocked on the door, little Timothy opened the door. Nicole’s 9 year-old son happily exclaimed that “you’re the Mormon guys aren’t you?” and invited them in. While his mother had not been to church in the year and a half since the missionaries had come the first time to invite her back into activity, Tim was happy and eager to hear from the missionaries as they taught his mom. Elder Price and his companion then asked Tim if he had been baptized and he responded no. They then asked if it was something he wanted to do: to follow Jesus and be baptized. Nicole was a little hesitant but agreed that it was Tim’s choice whether or not he wanted to be baptized, and the Elders set up a baptismal date for a few weeks in the future. Those Elders left that home with many prayers of thanksgiving and praise that included jumping for joy and a very enthusiastic fist bump. The next Sunday at ward council, the Elder’s brought up the idea of Tim wanting to be baptized and many jaws dropped to the floor in surprise. In previous months, Tim had expressed no such desire to get baptized or even to come to church. Elder Price, his companion and their faithful and loving home teacher continued to teach Tim (while Tim taught them how to “jerk”) and the ward mobilized to help and support this wonderful family. Tim even brought his two brothers to church as well. Elder Price described that at Tim’s baptism, the Spirit was truly manifest as Tim decided to follow Christ and his family became more and more involved in their ward. This wonderful family is a true testament to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to bring in every kind of person in every kind of circumstance. As President Uchtdorf said in the October 2013 general conference address entitled Come Join With Us,
“To those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here. Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result
“If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed. But if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of God ‘which healeth the wounded soul,’ and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here you will find them.
“In this age of waning faith—in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven’s embrace—here you will find a people who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us!”
3. The Lord Never Gives up on His Children
A story courtesy of fellow writer and intern here at the More Good Foundation, Adam Williams, really displays the power of the Lord knowing each of his children individually and stopping at nothing until they are brought to a knowledge of truth that will bring them enduring happiness and power. Adam describes it this way:
“Missionaries have been in the country of Slovakia for a little over 20 years, yet the church grows very slowly. In the capitol city, Bratislava, two Elders decided that they were going to have a “day of miracles” and prayed that they would be able to have the faith to experience them. About two months before they were given a referral for a young man from a different city who would be in Bratislava for the summer studying to be a Catholic priest. He had a lesson with the missionaries before and felt that Moroni’s promise was true, but very hesitant to continue meeting with missionaries as his future was set as a priest. The contact the missionaries were given was incorrect and they couldn’t get hold of him.
On the “Day of Miracles” the two Elders were talking to people on a street when they stopped this young man and immediately one of the Elders knew that this was the lost referral. The young man said that he felt that he would meet the missionaries that day and decided to meet with the Elders to get a Book of Mormon. The missionaries taught him about the restoration and asked if he would be baptized. His response, “It would be a miracle if I ever got baptized.”
After a long conversion process of studying, praying and attending church and in the face of family abandonment and getting kicked out of the seminary, he knew he had to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized. Just a little over 2 years after this miracle he is now studying at BYU-Idaho and has recently accepted a mission call to the England Birmingham Mission.”
Heavenly Father is so aware of us as His children. Sometimes we forget that the smallest parts of our hopes and dreams and struggles and pains are observed by our Father, and He often is just waiting for us or someone close to us to pray for an opportunity to come closer to Him. Sydney S. Reynolds, in her General Conference talk from October 2003 entitled, He Knows Us; He Loves Us, said,
“The Lord not only knows who we are, He knows where we are, and He leads us to do good . . .The Savior gave His life for each one of us. He knows our joys and our sorrows. He knows my name and your name. When we covenant with Him at baptism, we promise to keep His commandments, to always remember Him, and to take His name upon us. Ultimately, His is the name by which we want to be called, for “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” 7 I bear my witness that He lives and loves us and calls us by name to come unto Him.”
Coming to the Lord is simple in the fact that He wants us to be so close to Him already. Missionary work is all about bringing others to recognize the love of the Lord and how much He wants to enrich their lives. Remember the power you have to bring the love of our Father to others and how the Spirit is ready and willing to put people in our paths that the Lord knows we can help. Be open and love God and see the power you can have in the lives of others.