So how do we think and treat the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives?
I've been having a lot of those moments as I've been scripture studying (And the genuine planned scripture study kind, not the ones that I inevitably try to do just before I fall asleep at night on my mobile phone and which can barely make it to 10 minutes long because I'm weak) where something I've been leaves me pondering about it for the next couple of hours, relating it to myself and circumstances, and sending my entire list of thoughts to my husband (We like sending each other our spiritual insights and things we ponder throughout the day.)
I was studying in 1 Nephi chapter 22 and it stood out to me about the Gathering of Israel, and how this was a prophecy about us! About you and I, and the world we'd be living in now and responsibilities we'd have.
There was to be a fulness of time, a fulness and complete restoration of all things that the Lord had given previously, and this time was during the religious freedom movement in the 1800s that led to so many Churches being organised and taught. In 1 Nephi 22:9, it says that our responsibility is 'unto the making known of the covenants of the Father in Heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.' So our job is to share the gospel, to make His covenants known to all because it is for them.
But how can we share something that we aren't even that aware of, enthusiastic about, or even using?
Take this story further though. Let's say he didn't find out about all the amazing dinners, parties, events, and luxuries he could have had on that cruise. He boarded, went about his trip, and then got off the Cruise. I can imagine that his initial excitement was infectious, he had an image in his head of what it was going to be like and he couldn't wait to share all the stories he'd have, but over the trip he'd get more and more upset or unhappy about the Cruise.
Once excited about the Cruise, now just an empty memory that won't be brought up again
Or perhaps it turned into bitterness? I could imagine that same man coming off the Cruise and telling all his friends and family who asked that it was a horrible experience, that it was nothing like he'd imagined and he didn't even get to come away with priceless memories, just with what he could afford. Perhaps he might even say he'd never do it again.
Think of a second man on the exact same Cruise. He had done his research on his own, planned his schedule, and knew of all the privileges he had on the boat. His excitement runs through the entire Cruise as he attends the dances, the funny karaoke nights, sees beautiful landscapes, and come away from the experience exhilarated and knows he will remember that trip for the rest of his life. When he gets home, he tells all his friends and family that it was incredible, tells of all the stories and experiences, and says that he'd love to do it again and would recommend that they try it for themselves because it's something that has to be experienced.
Though these two men went on the same cruise, they experienced it very differently and came away with opposite opinions. Very much like the Gospel, at first the new things are so exciting and we're enthusiastically imagining in our minds all the ideas and experiences we'll have, and then somewhere along the way we get into routine, we become accustomed to these things that were once foreign to us. Or perhaps we do them so often that it's nearly subconscious doing them. We know we've been commanded to read our scriptures, but do we read them or study them? We know we've been commanded to pray, but do we say quick rote-memory prayers or kneel down and converse with God?
I remember for myself the first lessons I received when I started coming to Church. Whether that was with the Missionaries, the Young Women's class, in Sacrament Meeting, or in Sunday School, I heard new things after new things about God, about the Saviour, about life before and after death, about Prophets and commandments, and it was exciting. I hungered to learn more, I wanted to spend hours pouring over it all and really understanding it [And yet funnily enough I struggled to read the Book of Mormon, go figure! What a rebellious investigator] I was completely mesmerised by these new concepts, learning about how I was a Daughter of God and that I could be sealed for all time and eternity with my family was absolutely beautiful and made me feel closer to my Heavenly Father more than I had ever felt, and I wanted to sing and dance and write long paragraphs about how glorious and merciful He was like the Prophets of old did. It was my entire life, and I couldn't get enough.
Then I got used to them. I taught them, I heard them every class, and by my third and fourth year of being a member, I became complacent. I would groan at prayers or try to fob them off to others, scripture study was something I did when there was nothing else to do or what I'd try to squeeze in for a quick 15 minutes, sacrament meeting was a bore and I'd often find things to distract me or friends to sit and talk with, General Conference with an endurance test and I never prepared for marathons, and I found that it was a lot harder to live the gospel, the commandments, and to live what I preached. My only real enjoyment and when I felt that spark was through Seminary's Scripture Mastery and Young Women's Personal Progress program. The gospel wasn't alive for me, and at times it would surge back again but because I had no foundation set, it didn't stick.
I can't pin point the very moment when it hit me again because it's an ongoing remembrance. Something will click, and I will feel the reality of the gospel within me and it will feel like I was converted all over again. If we're not concerned and actively looking for the small things [Singing to a hymn like I'm A Child of God and feeling the truthfulness of it, watching a mormon message with a friend and talking about it afterwards about your differing feelings], how can we expect to see and fully experience the big things? [Revelation for mission, marriage, moving, education, family, a new calling, new revealed revelation or announcement in the Church]
Some days I have fears that the Lord has left me, or that I have so far removed myself from God that there's no way I could return, or that perhaps God has forgotten me, then I remember the Restoration.
I have been born in the greatest and most filled with knowledge generation of time. I have the fullness of the gospel, and I didn't even have to work that hard or strenuous for it. I have the entire translated scriptures at my fingertips, given with the blood, sweat, and tears of years of people who fought and worked their entire lives so that people could have these in their home [The story of the man who translated and published the Bible in english, and inevitably died to make it that the every day person could have scriptures is truly a breathtaking one, click for the link: The Blessing of Scripture]
and were persecuted and trialled throughout, yet I cannot bother to read them more than I scroll through my Facebook Newsfeed. I am not threatened with public execution for praying, for attending Church on Sundays, for preaching the gospel. I am not told to believe in a forced state religion like in some countries, I was able to be baptized into the LDS Church because the Priesthood Keys have been restored on earth and I had worthy and ordained Priesthood Holders be able to serve me in that capacity.
I have the knowledge and testimony that the Savior died for me, and the miraculous Atonement in my life that allows me to return to Heavenly Father again, and it requires the consecration of my heart and mind not the sacrifice of an animal in His similitude. At any whim I could go onto the computer and look up articles researched and gathered by scholars on each of the Apostles of Jesus, and the history and cultural traditions of the bible that make them clearer for me in this day and age.
I can watch hours upon hours of years of General Conference, where a Prophet called of God speaks every 6 months without fail, on the things that Heavenly Father actively wants us to know and to focus on so that we may proper in righteousness. I have a temple no more than 3 hours away, where I can drive to and do ordinances that only Priests could do at the time of Moses, I am privileged and honoured to be endowed when back in Mose's time yet again it was only a Priest's privilege of doing so, and yet I am a 21 year old woman in the Church.
I have the fulness of the gospel given to me as a gift from previous generations who have died working on it, protecting it, translating it, preaching it, organising it, and living it. Now, do I accept the gift with willingness and a grateful heart, or do I accept it and put it in the pile of others gifts I've received but don't think twice about after time has passed [i.e friends, family marriage, children,]
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in a talk called, 'Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?' which says,
"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.” Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is one of the most remarkable periods of the world’s history! Ancient prophets yearned to see our day.
When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work? Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind, and strength? Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?"
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2014 Priesthood Session
May it be an ever eternal lesson that the Restoration, the gospel, and Heavenly Father's wonderful and loving plan has happened, will happen, and it's happening right now. I hope that as the children of our Heavenly Father, we don't break and discard the gifts that He has so carefully and trustingly given to us so that we'll be so much more joyful and excited in this life that we show it in all that we do and say.