How Great Shall Be Your Joy

This past weekend I was blessed to witness one of the biggest miracles I’ve ever seen!

It all begins with Anne, and oh does she come with a back story.

Anne is a 60 year old Italian lady who is 4’11” and has more spunk than anyone I know!  She was born and raised in Philly and has lived a life of tragedy and horror, experiencing every kind of abuse you could imagine and seeing more death than I can keep track of.  Through near death experiences, a violent mobster husband, a broken family situation, addictions, suicide attempts, betrayals, trauma, and the sudden death of her second husband (the first person whom she had ever felt unconditionally loved by) her life spun her into a long search for the love of the Lord.  After years of hating God due to the bitterness and tragedy life had given her, her journey toward Him began at last.

This journey led her to a variety of different churches, each slowly building her faith but not fully satisfying her spiritual hunger.

Through a miraculous turn of events, one day she was driving home from her bible study with tears streaming down her face, hurt and confused by the words someone had said in her study group.  Desperate for someone to turn to, she drove past the Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center and saw the Christus statue through the windows and the words “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” along the building.  Making an unplanned U-turn into the parking lot, she walked in and was greeted by missionaries with open arms.  Little did she know that this was exactly where God had been leading her all along.

Fast forward to a week later, when my missionary companion and I show up on her doorstep to begin teaching her about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–“the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).  A few months of teaching led us to last weekend, where with tears filling her eyes and the joyous light of Christ shining in her countenance, she entered the waters of baptism performed by the proper Priesthood authority of God!

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For someone who was led through a life of tragedy, abuse, and horror, she has come out refined, fortified, loved, and redeemed.  She has given me a whole new understanding of amazing grace— “I once was lost but now am found; I was blind, but now I see.”  She has found God, and He has truly found her.

One of my favorite things that she often says is that “God has been wanting me for a LONG time!”  She looks back in her life and sees how much He was fighting for her all along, trying to bring her into His loving arms.  “Well, He’s finally got me!” she exclaims.

We are ALL God’s children, and He wants ALL of us.  Every single one of us.

So…does He have you?  Are you willing to let Him into your life?

Think about that.

And never forget these two things: Miracles happen and THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!

Ann

“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15)

Our Purpose. Our Adventure.

Everyone has a plan for their life.  Everyone has a dream.  Everyone wants a happy ending.  Yes, it sounds cliché, but it is true!  I believe that deep down, each one of us wants an adventure.  We want a life worth living, a goal worth achieving—a grand destiny that makes everything we go through in life worth enduring.  Some of us may be avidly working toward that dream.  Some of us may still be searching for what that dream is.  Some of us may have given up—may have buried those hopes deep within us because we have resigned ourselves to the daily grind of mundane life.

Well, I am here to tell you that all of us, every single human being on the face of this earth, have a divine destiny.  We are all part of a marvelous plan—a grand, eternal journey with incomprehensible joy as our reward.  However, like any worthwhile journey, we will face opposition.  After all, can we fully appreciate joy and peace unless we experience, at least for a while, despair and turmoil?  Every good adventure includes darkness and light, failure and triumph, good and evil, strength and weakness.  A hero is not made through enjoying a life of ease, but through learning to overcome obstacles and come off conqueror.

We are children of God.  He created us, and we lived with Him before we came to Earth.  He is our loving Heavenly Father, and He has sent us here for a reason.  He wants us to enjoy all His blessings.  In order to do that, we needed to progress and become more like Him.  And so, here we are!  We are in the middle of our mortal adventures, herein to learn, grow, progress, and gain experiences that will enable us to reach our divine potential.

My fellow seekers of light, let us not be weary in our journey.  Although at some times it may not feel like it, this life is full of wonder and purpose.  In a world that is increasingly full of darkness, let us keep the light of hope.  In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a living Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ,

What kind of existence can we hope for? Those who come unto Christ, repent of their sins, and live in faith will reside forever in peace. Think of the worth of this eternal gift. Surrounded by those we love, we will know the meaning of ultimate joy as we progress in knowledge and in happiness. No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

What will true followers of Christ do if we love Him?  We will keep His commandments.  We will enter in by the gate which He has laid before us—namely: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  This is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the only path that leads to eternal happiness.  This is our divine destiny.

I HAVE SET MY PATH.  Have you?