There was a time in the mission when I was really struggling with some things. It was not one thing in particular, but with a whole host of different little things combined. Add to that all the concerns and prayers for investigators and it can become a bit much at times. It was during one of these times I had a pretty significant experience.
We had been out tracting all morning. It was sometime probably about March of 1999. I am too lazy to go find the date in my journal. But it had been drizzling on and off all morning. We actually came back with a pretty good list of call backs but I still had a number of things weighing on my mind. There was one in particular with relation to my companion. I want to make it known we did not have any big issues, but some things he did brought out inadequacies in myself, I believe in no fault of his own. I was struggling how to overcome some of these feelings and disappointments.
The morning had been spent on exchanges with a Canadian, Elder Morton. We returned for lunch and I was so exhausted and stressed under the weeks of dealing with things I went upstairs and plopped on my bed to take a quick kip. However, as I laid there, I just keep rehashing things. It was then I just stopped, opened my eyes, and asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
There I laid pondering that phrase when I very distinctly heard a scripture pop into my mind. It was not an audible voice but I reopened my eyes to make sure nobody was there. I laid there alone on the bottom bunk wondering what in the world the scripture said.
The scripture was Mosiah 7:18.
My first reaction was, “What in the world is in chapter 7 of Mosiah?” I had no clue what was even going on in the chapter, which piqued my interest all the more.
I rolled out of my bed and located some scriptures to look up the verse.
“And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”
It was absolutely powerful. Somehow, the words seem to answer exactly what it was I was asking. They hit me as they say, like a ton of bricks. Every single time I read this chapter I think of this experience. Every time when it seems difficulties just won’t go away, I seem to remember this scripture. This is my comfort scripture you can say. Regardless of what burdens we are under, lift up your head and be comforted. The time is not far ahead when these things will no longer be. Whether in death, release, or in the deliverance from the scenario, an end will come. Then a warning, a suggestion, a plea for endurance because still an effectual struggle is to be made.
It is not enough just to wait it out. A struggle must still be made. We must continue working through things, not just give up. The verses go on…
“Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God. In that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them. And again, that same God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage.” (Mosiah 7:19-20)
The Lord has done so much good in our lives, don’t lose sight at the moment. God’s promises always come true. They will always ring in a new day, eventually.
Looking back, I can see how much this has come to pass. As I have made the eventual struggle ever since, I find my blessings are becoming greater and greater. I feel more and more in tune. I see miracles all about me in my life. Who really could ask for anything more? I haven’t really been through a whole lot in my life either. Some would disagree with me, but I keep pressing forward and making the effectual struggle. Somehow everything works out right. I have been fortunate it has all worked out for me in this life. I fear there are many who it does not work out for in this life.
Some of my blessings are being realized in the past week.
This past weekend, the effectual struggle of helping out friends, listening to friends, continuing to foster friendships in the difficulty of school and university, and especially with friends after marriage opened doors for me. I was invited to Vernal to spend time with three other friends who all lived on Darwin Avenue in Logan. Anna, Allen, and Brad. Anna, for all intents and purposes, is an old girlfriend. I certainly don’t see it that way with a negative connotation. However, both of us struggling through despite some awkward times, proved to be a foundation and grounding point where we can move on and have become great friends. Allen, another individual I got to know fairly well, but never as well as I would have liked, through the struggle of maintaining contact, proved to be a great deal of fun, mutual respect, and some business dealing. Brad, the struggle to maintain contact has turned into a bond and friendship I have never heard of between any other two missionary companions. That relationship has affected so much of our daily lives I am not sure I could even begin to define its influence.
We meet up for a weekend together in Vernal. It was a blast. We hiked canyons and climbed cliffs. We sought out petroglyphys and outlaws. We toured Ashley Valley’s water treatment facility. We enjoyed meals, told jokes, and explored museums. What a blast. All from the effectual struggle of not feeling adequate or capable of reaching out to effectively connect with others.
That commitment has gone even further. I have maintained relationships with parents of many friends I went to high school. Sometimes, I am not even in contact with the friend anymore, but am still with the parents. One such relationship was with a girl named Nicole. Again, a girlfriend by world standards, but we really just enjoyed ourselves. That ongoing friendship not only with Nicole, but with her parents may turn out to bring other opportunities (perhaps business too) now. Who would have ever thought that the parents who called every 10 minutes while we clasped to brick ledges holding on to our lives (all in complete safety) would become fast friends? Who would have thought the parents of a girl whose piano bench I would break early one morning by sharing it with my date would spend hours with me showing my photos of their safari to Africa and motorcycle trip through New Zealand?
These are just a couple of examples on my effectual struggle to be better at reaching out, maintaining relationships, and remembering others would have blessed me in so many ways. What is especially true is I am seeing some of these blessings while yet in mortality. That too, is probably another blessing of making the effectual struggle.