I had an interesting thought tonight. “Lord, I want to join the battle.” I love working with youth, talking to them, helping them out the best I can. The thing that worries the most is not the decisions that they’ll make, but rather that I haven’t prepared myself enough. I want to be spiritually ready all the time, to be up to any challenge that comes my way. That’s a pretty tall order. When I feel like I need to reach that lofty goal, I start to think of big ways to change my life, and how to get there amazingly fast.
What I’m having to learn over and over is that the the gospel is not about moments of energy and excitement. It’s not big projects that need to be undertaken, or major changes to my schedule. It’s not zealotry or extreme attitudes. Instead, it’s about making a decision, day by day, to follow Christ.
Like many Christians, I wear a cross. It’s a necklace that I put on every morning before I head out for the day. I don’t have to put it on, but as I do, it’s a really personal reminder that I’m making a choice — that, yes, this is something I want to do, and take it upon myself willingly. And what’s cool is that I have to make that decision every day — not as a group, but individually. Every morning I make the choice.
I still have the habit of wanting to jump into things with full heart and spirit, and at times get almost a patriotic pledge to do more. I think of big changes I can make so that I’m somehow getting more spirituality into my life. It starts to become a project, some huge overreaching goal that I can build with lots of effort and work. This leads problem that I will start to think there is something “special” out there that I should be doing, to find that extra measure of spiritual input. Big goals require big commitments, which leads to big changes. Rip out all the old stuff, and put in the new. Everything old must go. There’s some method out there to tap this great well of spiritual power that I haven’t found yet, some secret sauce that the Lord will reveal to me as I push with so much effort and drive.
However, that is going about it the wrong way. I love how the Lord puts things into perspective. From Matthew 24:
26. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
There are no secret angles, no shortcuts, no hidden mysteries for only a select few to find. I do not need to go out into the desert, something that would take a lot of resources and dedication — somewhere only a few could go if they had the right equipment, stamina, and drive.
Instead, He has made it clear that it is the basic principles of the gospel, that all men, women and children can exercise, where they are. Consider, for example, taking the basics to a higher level over time as you make it a part of your life.
Prayer is the simple act of talking to God. Reading the scriptures is having God talk to me. Fasting teaches self-control. Like any skill, I can improve, and do better over time. Instead of saying token prayers, I can learn how to calmly and quietly express my soul to God, and know that he hears. Instead of reading the scriptures out of a sense of duty and daily obligation, I can study them and look more closely, trying to understand God’s will.
The basics, if expanded on, can bring about great results. I know that that’s true, because as I decrease or increase in those simple things, I can notice a difference.
My crazy mind still likes to flirt with the idea that there is some great knowledge that I need to acquire before I can commit. A nebulous mass of content that I must completely understand before I can move forward.
Again, the Lord puts things into perspective, making it so much simpler:
13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The way that I read this is that my task is to enter into the gate that leads unto eternal life. He doesn’t say anything about winning the race, or how fast I should be going, or how soon I need to get there. At the very beginning, He just wants me to go in the right direction.
It’s not hard to make that choice, but it’s hard for me to understand and accept that it’s so simple. It really is, though, and when I think about how easy it is, I realize that it’s something I can do. And the Holy Ghost confirms to me that it is true. I like the Lord’s way much better than mine.