Diddy missed church this week, but she's still all for baptism. Cool thing, we stopped by for a quick lesson about faith and hope (courtesy of the marvelous lesson we received from our zone leaders that day) and before we started, her boyfriend said "Do ya'll mind if I listen too?" and we were like UM NO PLEASE DO there's nothing we would love more than for the two of you to be learning and making this journey together (coughdoublebaptismcough). And that's not even the best part. As Diddy was telling us how she enjoyed church last Sunday and how she wants to come again, I noticed for the first time something different about her. Her countenance was changed. She was smiling. She was glowing. All the dark lines of distress and worry were gone. It's like she didn't even need that lesson that day; faith and hope were already changing her.
The lesson we'd had on hope has actually been driving us all week. We talked about the difference between what we hope FOR and what we hope IN. For example:
I hope for the ice cream truck's speedy arrival before I perish in this heat.
I hope that guy we committed to baptism at the retirement home is actually elect, and not senile.
I hope Sassy really comes to church and brings her family like she keeps saying she will. (She didn't.)
I hope no bugs fly into my eyes on this five mile bike ride. (They did.)
But what do we hope IN? We hope in Christ. We hope in God's promises. We hope in the work of salvation, that it is not all for naught, that good things will come of our efforts. Every time something great happens, both Sister C and I are tempted to get excited. But I have to calm her down. "Don't get excited. We can't afford to." (our hopes and dreams get crushed a lot) "We put our faith in Christ, and our hope in good things to come." But hope is what drives us to work. We don't know exactly what the good things are that will happen, or exactly how God will fulfill his promises, we just know that He will. So we work as if every person we talk to could be the one that accepts our invitation to the celestial kingdom. One of them will. One day.
Another blessing by way of Miss Diddy: Right when I was beginning to think the only soul I'll ever have saved was that turtle I picked up off the road and place safely in a ditch, Miss Diddy offers the closing prayer in a lesson and thanks Heavenly Father for "my girls, who have made a world of difference in my life." She said some other nice things too I can't immediately recall. I just recall feeling "all sparkly inside" as Sister Creager put it.
Interesting moment: we were teaching this guy (former gangsta, come clean) outside some ghetto apartments, first lesson, he'd just come outside and asked us what we believe, and near the end of the Restoration, he looks at me and is like "I can read people, I been around Wiccans a lot. And I can tell you been through somethin, I can see it. You wide open. And you come a long way." Well. Um. Thanks? I ain't nearly been through as much as this guy has, having had the guardrail of the gospel in my life from day one, but nonetheless. It's been a non-stop growing process all these years, and I guess you could say I HAVE come a long way. That's the power of hope. It changes people.
And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the amansions of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent bhope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared. [Ether 12]
Hope is what drives us to do. And when we do, we change. That's what grace is about. Allowing Christ to reach into your life, clean off the sin and weakness mortality marked you with, and shape you into the person God always intended you to be.
Concerning this little year-and-a-half part of the process I've been blessed to experience, I've only got 9 months left to get there! Time to make it count!
And wherever you are on the journey, make today count for something. Mortality is but a fraction of it. Glory is ahead, and we're halfway there.