Saturday, March 2, 2013
Sacrifice=Blessings of Heaven
I just finished the most absolutely amazing book this week called "Yearning for the Living God", by F. Enzio Busche. It was life-changing! It was more or less an autobiography of Elder Busche's life, which is incredible. He grew up in Germany during Hitler's regime, and sometime after the war, when he was in his late twenties and married, he ran into missionaries and decided to join the church. This book contains so many remarkable stories of people in the church in Germany, and many other countries, who lived the most extraordinary lives and saw countless upon countless miracles as they tried to build God's kingdom as it was just starting in their respective countries. There were so many incredible stories that I couldn't even begin to mention them here, but there was one major theme that I realized for myself as I was reading, and that was I shouldn't be content to be mediocre, but I can do so much more to live up to my full potential.
One story in the book talks about a visit Elder Busche took to East Germany shortly after the wall came down. He was visiting with a stake president about their seminary program. When asked about attendance, the stake president responded with with obvious shame that they only had 89% attendance. Elder Busche immediately exclaimed "How wonderful!! There are so many stakes in Utah that only average 50%, so you are doing marvelous!" The stake president was almost horrified, responding "But that is 11% of youth that are missing the vital principles of the gospel! How can we be content when they are still missing?" Elder Busche went on to talk about in his book how when we are surrounded by mediocrity, it becomes normal and we don't feel anything wrong with it, when in reality we could be achieving so much more.
He also had a wonderful chapter called "Quiet Heroes", where he talked about many Saints he had met in his various travels over the world as a General Authority. One of the major things that all of these people had in common was the great sacrifices above and beyond the basic commandments that these people would make joyfully, just because they loved the Lord and His work so much. He told one story of a woman from an Eastern European country who was visiting Salt Lake. She mentioned how she wised all of the people in her ward in Salt Lake could come visit her branch in her home country and see all of their wonderful testimonies and hear of the wonderful miracles that happen constantly. She then mentioned to Elder Busche sadly, "Do you know, I think most of these people in my ward in Salt Lake have never seen an angel?" Many of the stories in this chapter had similar themes. The church in these countries was so brand new and so small, and the people had few resources so the only option they had was to rely on the Lord and let Him work miracles so the work could go forward.
This makes me think of story of the rich young man in the New Testament, who tells the Savior how he has kept all of the commandments since his youth, what lacks he yet? All that the Lord requires of us is to keep his commandments. Sometimes this is a great sacrifice on our part, but sometimes it's not so bad. But when we go above and beyond, the blessings are even more incredible. Our potential is so much greater than I think we can imagine.