I mean, we technically didn't dress up... okay maybe we did.
On a recent Tuesday night, I found myself sick to my stomach after a long day. Against my better judgment, I and my fellow missionaries of Shreveport had gorged ourselves on Domino's pizza and other accompanying food items at a members house in Historic S-Port to a point that definitely satisfied the natural man and definitely offended the virtue of our callings. I glanced down at a remnant of that poor decision in the car beside me: half a chocolate chip cookie. Flustered and upset with the adversary, who often disguises himself as sugary goodness, I grabbed the evidence, opened the car door and chucked the cookie into the dark abyss yelling "Get behind me, Satan!" I think it scared him off. My cravings have substantially subsided since.
I tell you this story because sacrifice has been on our minds a lot lately. What kind of sacrifice will make you a saint? One way to think of it is this: what kind of sacrifice will make you become a child? As Matthew 18 says,
"Except ye be converted, and become as little achildren, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.Whosoever therefore shall ahumble himself as this little bchild, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
And then the Savior tells us how.
"Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire."
Trunk or Treat
I understand. You may love your foot. It's been there for you a long time and got you many cool places, but if it gets horribly infected (i.e. with sin, the kind of sin that sticks and maims) cut it off. No other option. You may have a vice. Big or small, if it is not a virtue it is not pleasing to God. And He's asking you now to cut it off because just as you wouldn't want one little infection of the foot to spread and kill you, so also would it suck if one little sin ended up being enough to keep you from the presence of Heavenly Father.
We've met some amazing people this week. Jen's husband was finally home (he works out of state) and she had us teach them a lesson together. She's said before, she's willing to let go of whatever it takes to reach celestial glory. And if her husband is willing, she wants them to get baptized together. My heart flew when I heard this of course, certain that the love of a woman would be enough to soften his hesitant heart so they can make the sacrifice that precedes the covenant. We still have to tell them about the word of wisdom, a common problem here, but if their desire is sincere, they will find the strength to quit those dumb substances.
We could proselyte like this, right?
For the part member family, it may be other kinds of sacrifice. The physical demand of coming to church, for the father who has MS, or the social sacrifice their kids will have to make. But the sister from the ward who came with us told an amazing story about how she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and recieved a blessing telling her that this test would be not only a strength to her, but to all who she bore testimony to. Driving home from that blessing, she gripped her steering wheel with newfound resolve, and said to Heavenly Father, "If this is Your will, okay. Let's do this." Within a year, she was healed. And her faith is mountains high.
The Atonement is the key to all of this. It is the reason we can find the strength to make the sacrifices that are asked of us, the reason we can do the seemingly impossible and cast off the things of this world and revert back to the humble, teachable, pure children we once were. We taught a woman we thought was a promising potential investigator, and it turns out she's a lost less active that we had been miraculously led to - her records were nowhere near this area. As she expressed her pain and feeling of being so far gone, and we opened the scriptures to explain the Savior's Atonement, that transformation again occured, her face softened, her eyes glowing with hope, and she looked pure as a child who's faith is wholeheartedly in Jesus Christ.
As the children of Shreveport ward so simply taught us all in the primary program yesterday,
"I am a child of God. And He has sent me here."
So will He provide for and help us while we are here until that happy day that we live with Him once more.