Last night, the young adults were lucky enough to be addressed by Elder David A. Bednar, apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife, in a CES Broadcast. (For those of you who may have missed the broadcast, you can find it here)
His address, entitled “That we Might not… Shrink” pulls from Doctrine & Covenants 19:18, which reads:
Which suffering [the atonement] caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
To begin, he recalls the late life of another apostle, Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Although Elder Maxwell spent the last eight years of his life battling leukemia, he continued to serve faithfully in his capacity as an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When asked about the lessons he had learned through these challenges, he responded:
I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving.
Not shrinking is more than just getting through a trial, it is “partaking of the bitter cup without becoming bitter” (Elder Maxwell, October General Conference 1997).
What does this mean for a missionary in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
At times, being a missionary will be difficult. Perhaps we’re having a difficult time finding new investigators, or making progress with old ones, or just getting along with our mission companion. Goodness knows–every day life, even for those not on missions–comes with these difficult days. For a prospective missionary, maybe we’re struggling to see the end result of these sacrifices we are making to serve, or to accept our particular language assignment or mission call. When trials and challenges roll around, it’s easy to try to just “get through it.” And yet, just surviving is not enough. We need to strive to have the faith, courage, and strength to rise and meet our challenges. The strength to “not shrink.”
Elder Bednar suggests that this “not shrinking” is having the faith to realize the Lord is in charge–whatever the outcome. In exercising our faith in God’s plan for us, His children, we will be blessed. Remember the words of the Savior unto his apostles:
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
To close, a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley, late president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
As we pray to know God’s will for us, may we have the courage and faith to rise again and go forward, never shrinking, to accomplish the will of the Lord–whatever it may be or wherever it may take us.