Media: His Grace is Sufficient

His Grace Is Sufficient
Wilcox, Brad  July 12, 2011

Wow!  What an amazing talk given at the BYU Devotional last month.  Check it out at THIS LINK where you can listen to it, download it, view it, buy it, whatever you wish.  It is fantastic!

I have always struggled with how to explain what I understand about the Atonement and how it is important that we DO OUR PART while still acknowledging the Savior’s sacrifice as a necessary/essential part of our salvation.  This talk explains it very well! In high school, I was bombarded by people who would interrogate me about my faith and why I would take part in the ordinances and rites of my church.  They told me that even baptism is a form of work and demonstrates some lack of faith in Christ, or it is an act of defiance/denial of Christ’s grace.  On the contrary, it is a demonstration of my increased faith and the covenants I make bind me to Christ as my advocate and Redeemer.  I wish I understood this more back then.  I have since learned A LOT more and have come to understand the infinite power of the Atonement in my life and what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

“Even so afaith, if it hath not bworks, is dead, being alone.Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my afaith by my bworks” (James 2:17-18).  “Wherefore by their afruits ye shall know them.Not every one that asaith unto me, bLord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that cdoeth the dwill of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:20-21).

“Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it?  Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does  the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No.  Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s  incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for  practice, practice, practice.”

“I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.” I say, “no, we are not  earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”  They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?” I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, com-
pletely, thankfully—yes!” Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are  not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “a life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” as my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” “The miracle of the atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change.”

 

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Overcoming Adversity – What is the purpose of trials?

I’d like you to meet my friend Paul.  When he was ten years old he was paralyzed in a car accident.  Our parents were friends growing up so we heard about the situation immediately.  It was one of the few times I’d seen my older brother cry.  Paul is one of his very best friends.  Our family gathered in the living room and knelt down to say a prayer in behalf of their family.  I was very young and didn’t really understand the repercussions of Paul’s injuries.  I remember being chided by my parents when I made a silly comment when we visited him in the hospital.  Still, one of my fondest memories of Paul is my first youth conference when we did the pioneer trek: three days, and nearly twenty-five miles.  It was intense for everyone, but I remember that Paul did not have any hesitation about joining the rest of us on the trek and was a champion throughout the entire experience.  Today, Paul is an Olympian, a husband and father, an engineer, and has organized a foundation to help others.  Here is his story:

In the current Ensign there is an article that reminds us, “Challenges have always been part of mortality and God’s plan for our growth. Through the power of the Atonement, we can still “be of good cheer” (Be of Good Cheer: Choosing Happiness By Camille Fronk Olson).

It isn’t always easy to see the purpose of our trials, let alone be grateful for or happy about them.  Still, it’s important to have a good attitude and look for ways to improve in spite of trials.  I used to be really good about having “eternal perspective” when it came to trials.  I would tell myself that there is a grander purpose that I will come to understand one day.  That worked really well for me.  I would imagine myself looking back over my life when it is over and thinking, “ah, that’s why” and everything would be ok.

In True to the Faith, we can read about adversity as a part of our existence and why it is important to have a good attitude:

“When some people face adversity, they are like Laman and Lemuel. They complain and become bitter. They ask questions like “Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this now? What have I done to deserve this?” But these questions have the power to dominate their thoughts. Such questions can overtake their vision, absorb their energy, and deprive them of the experiences the Lord wants them to receive. Rather than responding in this way, you should follow Nephi’s example. Consider asking questions such as, “What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?” (See 1 Nephi 16:15–31.)”

Through some of my recent trials, I sometimes catch myself being more like Laman, and less like Nephi.  Why have I had to struggle to complete my college education?  Why have I always had to experience periods of friendlessness and lonliness?  Why has my husband had such a rough time finding employment?  Why did we have to have a car accident in the midst of trial and depression?  Why is it so hard to find direction or to change our course when we are in a difficult situation?  Like the article says, trials and opposition are a part of mortal existence.  Opposition teach us faith, gratitude, and a myriad of virtues which would otherwise be incomprehensible.  There is a part of me that is beginning to understand that in order to be able to seize control of my situation, I need to learn how to and be capable of giving up that control.

“We mistakenly deduce that we must first prove our worth through our obedience and righteousness before the Lord’s sacrifice will cover us or His grace enable us.

“We may come to believe that we can and should trust in our own efforts rather than humbly acknowledge God. This is self-righteousness…

“Such thinking easily leads to justifying wrongdoing because we think we are in control; we think we know better than others, and sin is not a problem for us. If we can just get control over our world—our addictions in all their varieties, our eating disorders and obsession with thinness, our insistence that our house always be immaculate, our fascination with outward evidence of education and success—then we can finally be cheerful.

“Christ declared, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; emphasis added).

I have to give up the idea that perfection is within my reach because it’s just not.  Only through the Atonement can I even come close to being able to accomplish anything.  I don’t always understand why things have to be so difficult, but I can have faith that there is a Plan and a purpose.  The Atonement makes all things possible.  Through my trials, I can be grateful, and I can have faith that everything will work out for my good, and that I am being refined and prepared somehow.  “Thy will, oh Lord, be done.”

Small Ain’t Always Simple

I just wanted to send out an update to tell you about the progress I’ve been making on some of the things I have been working on.  I know I haven’t been very consistent about keeping you posted, but I promise I have been working on a few things here and there.  Some of them have to do with parenting, homemaking, school, church, and my business.  I wouldn’t say I have been busy because I have had quite a bit of down time while I searched for motivation to do anything.  In fact, as I was reading about Harriet Tubman, I really was inspired by how she used the power within herself to accomplish great things!  No one asked her to free her people or to work for the Union Army, nor to turn her house into a home for assisted living.  She felt inside of her that it was the right thing to do and she accomplished great things one mission at a time.

Homemaking:

Here are a few small things I like to do to accomplish more.

1: I fold my grocery bags.  Yup, when I get home from the grocery store, I stop and I fold those plastic bags up so I can tuck them into the bottom of garbage cans, my purse, or bring them out to the car to collect garbage.  It’s really pretty simple, and it’s so much easier than having those giant wods of plastic bags floating around and not knowing what to do with them!

2: I have been working on a system for my laundry.  I start a load in the washer in the morning when I get up, and then I change it over and start a new load before I go to bed.  That way, I’m not using other precious time to work on the laundry, and I basically forget about it.  When I do my chores, I fold the load that I pull out of the dryer in the morning and then it’s done.  Of course, this all works really well in theory, but I’m still working on perfecting it.

3: I recently read the 4-Hour Work Week.  Great book for single 20-, 30-somethings without a family, however, I did glean a few treasures here and there as a homemaker.  The author talks about focus, discipline, and effectiveness vs. efficiency.  In light of these things, I try to get my dishes washed and laundry folded first thing in the morning so the rest of my day is free.  My goal is to not be distracted by the computer expect at designated times.  Being efficient means that there is a place for everything and everything’s in its place.  I love this mantra and I try to live by it.  Being effective, however, means getting rid of 80% of the crap that you only use 20% of the time that you really wouldn’t miss.  The example the author uses is email.  If you sign up for all the cool notifications from all your favorite websites/blogs and then have a nice little filing system to keep them organized, you are being efficient.  But, to be effective with your time and energy, only get what you will use right now, and unsubscribe from the rest.  Stop wasting time!

Cherry Tomatoes

Beans

Cucumber

4: My garden is blooming!  I mean, it is actually bearing fruit!  It’s funny because I have really been only doing the minimal effort.  A lot of the time I only water it because my daughter asks me to so she can play out on the balcony, or my husband does it because I haven’t thought about it!  The nice thing is that our balcony faces south, south-west, I think, so it is sunny most of the day.  They get plenty of nourishment that way!

5:  I have been working on a quilt.  It is my first quilt, and I used re-purposed fabrics so it’s only so pretty.  Plus, my machine is old and ghetto.  When I lift my foot off the peddle, it keeps going.  It has been a struggle, but I am almost finished!  It’s been difficult finding the time to do it, but I would really like to be able to do a lot more…someday.

Motherhood:

All I have to say about my sweet children is that they make it a joy to be their mom!  My daughter is growing quickly, and she is learning fast!  I love watching her navigate through my husband’s Nook Color to get to the books and apps that she wants!  I can’t believe how much a two-year-old can accomplish these days with technology!  My son is almost nine months old and he is all over the place.  He starts to crawl on his hands and knees for a little bit, and then he plops onto his stomach to do his army crawl!  He is pulling himself up to stand on everything though.  It won’t be long before he is running around with my toddler!

At the Farm

One small thing I have been working on is keeping him on a flexible schedule like the one in The Baby Whisperer book.  I would feed my son when he first wakes up and then put him down to sleep when he’s tired.  I rarely have nursed him to sleep ever.  I had to start from birth.  Now, he is always happy, and going to sleep for him is never a struggle!!  He is awesome!  Most nights he sleeps through the night, but I don’t have a problem when he gets up once.  I quickly feed him and he goes right back to sleep.

School:

Today I had an appointment with my school advisor to map out the remainder of my degree.  She was really amazing.  She went through her college career with children while they were in grade school.  She understands that children are the first priority and was really nice about not making me feel bad about going back to school again.  I still have a long way to go, but she was very encouraging.  I want to get this finished before my kids get too old because I plan to homeschool.  I want to be able to focus on my children’s education without this distraction.  Still, I am SO close!  I can’t give up now.  It’s been a long journey, but the end is in sight!  A friend of mine posted this link earlier that was encouraging.  If only I could be a super hero and save the world! 😀

Business:

I have had this product idea stirring around in my head for a couple of years.  Lately with my husband’s underemployment and difficulty finding a new job, we have been inspired to get things off the ground.  At first I thought we were going to have to create everything from scratch and do all the testing and preparations from home.  When we tried, it was impossible.  With more research lately, I have found that there are much easier ways to do what I had hoped!  I have read 4-hour Work Week, Rework, and How to License Your Million Dollar Idea for more insight and ideas.  I have lately been working with a manufacturer to get a legitimate product created!  We will start the testing process in the next couple of weeks and hopefully have a finished product before Christmas!  I will keep you posted.  You will know when we are making progress!

Church:

I have a new calling – finally!  Well, I have been wanting a calling that will inspire me to be more productive.  I guess the Lord was preserving me for this calling so I could be available to accept it.  I will be teaching the Beehive class in Young Women.  I am excited about this calling because I feel like it is the right one for me right now.  I hope that I will fulfill my role to these young women to the best of my ability.

I think that’s just about everything for now.  I will try to keep you posted on all the little things I am trying to do.  Currently I am reading (actually listening to) Made to Stick and Switch by the same authors.  I am in need of some serious inspiration!  Feels like a lot of thing happening to me are discouraging and I am trying to combat them by being positive and having more self discipline.  Sort of failing, but there is hope on the horizon!

Weight Training for the Soul

If you have ever lifted weights then you know that it is something that can be challenging when you first pick it up, requires a consistent routine in order to improve, and as you improve are able to bear more weight and feel stronger and stronger.  On the flip side, the less consistent you are, the harder it feels and the more your muscles atrophy as a result of less practice.

I am learning more and more that these principles apply in every aspect of life!

In every thing, I wish I felt like this:

But in most things, I really feel like this:

To be good at ANYTHING, I really have to work at it like it’s a muscle I need to strengthen!  My motherhood muscle is pretty strong because I am around my kids all the time!  However, I have taken very little time to exercise some of my talents and am finding that those muscles have somewhat atrophied.  I wish that things were just like “riding a bicycle” and it’s easy to pick up whenever I want, but most things really aren’t like that!  Being a great writer, or singer, or pianist, or artist, or cook, or inventor means hours of focus and practice! If you don’t exercise your brain, you will lose it.  Most people I know who are great at something have spent a lot of focused time and energy on that thing. People I know who have lost a lot of weight worked really hard over a long period of time to reach their goals.  Most great things really don’t happen over night.

It’s like the parable of the talents illustrated in this video:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Like the first two servants, developing the talents we are given requires hard work, but we are given more in return.  Our hard work pays off!  On the other hand, burying our abilities is disappointing and we lose what we are given!

I recently read a quote by a person named Ira Glass – a radio personality.  I don’t know who that is, but I like the quote:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I feel that way in most things.  I see people who have amazing talent, and I wish so terribly I had that ability!  I know I have good taste, but the capacity to recreate those visions is just not in me.

I have often heard people say that when you are feeling your weaknesses most poignantly, you are nearer to the Spirit, because He is revealing to you how to change in order to grow.  I believe that is true.  The Spirit can then act as our stepping stone through the grace and tender mercy of the Savior to lift us to a higher level.  On the other hand, if we allow our weakness to over power us, it can become a stumbling block.  As it says in Ether 12:27: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”  Adversity truly makes us stronger!

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