I got to chill with Dave for a couple hours today. It was great fun; I beat him at chess, Dummies (if I remember right), and two games of Egyptian Rat Killer. But he beat me at Stratego, and I think a lot more goes into that game, so we were about even for the day.
I want to thank Dave for hanging out today. This was kind of a hard weekend for me, and I needed to just get away for a while--even if it was only an afternoon at my best friend's apartment. I mean, the weekend wasn't terrible, but it was one of those occasions that provokes reflection on where I am--especially in mission preparation.
This weekend was a little reminder of how much I need God. For a short time before Saturday I had fallen into a poor routine of staying up at night until I could no longer bear it, then flopping weakly into bed without so much as a thank you to Him who grants me my daily breath. Mortals can be such jerks sometimes. But I'm grateful for this opportunity to think, despite adversity; for without it, I probably wouldn't have noticed my need for improvement.
Lately I've been pondering the peace the Gospel brings. It's an amazing phenomenon; when you have it, you notice it at the very start but you get used to it--like immersing yourself in hot water. You don't realize how much you need it until you're in a situation where it leaves--like stepping out of a hot tub after you've been in there awhile. Then there's nothing you want more than the Spirit, because you know both how it feels to have it and not to have it, and you like the former better naturally because it literally means home, peace, and comfort. However, those who haven't had it--or have only rarely had it--often don't notice a lack of that peace, because they don't know it as well as those of us who do. That's what's normal to them; is it any wonder, then, why people ask such questions as "Where do I come from?", "Why am I here?", and "Where am I going?"
Active members of the Church are blessed to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. That's the greatest factor that goes into what makes us so happy as a people. Naturally in the world we live in, we too experience times when the Spirit isn't so strong, but they usually only last a short time when we find ourselves in places we shouldn't be. But in general, if we are conducting ourselves the way the Lord has taught, we can always enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost. And it feels great, doesn't it?!
I've figured out that that's the number one reason I desire so strongly to serve a mission: to bring that peace to people who haven't had it as strongly in their lives, and to let them know that they are sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves them. That's the most valuable thing I can give anyone, and if it's my only success as a missionary, I will come home a happy man. I've been able to come to that conclusion because of my own trials the past two weekends, when I've been actively thinking about it and thus able to observe myself better during those times when I haven't felt the Spirit.
This leads me to the reminder I mentioned earlier in this post: that I need God a lot more than I give Him credit for. How can I spread His peace when I'm not anxiously engaged in keeping it about myself? No man is so knowledgeable that he can take a day off from studying the scriptures. No man is so strong in himself that he is justified in not appealing to the Lord for direction. I'm human and therefore I falter. But God's work is never done; thus, mine isn't, either. I need to put my best foot forward and kick my mission preparation into even higher gear than it was before. It's hard work, but it's oh so peaceful--and that's worth everything.