Zone Conference: Transfer 1, Week 4‏

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Hello all. So this week was super slow, but we had *Zone Conference and **Stake Conference and both of those were super awesome. I want to focus my email this week on Zone Conference.  The theme of Zone Conference was How to Become a Master Teacher and we were taught how to teach more effectively. However, before we were taught how to teach, President Ballard talked to us a little about the concept of consecration, and that’s what I want to focus my email about this week.
FYI:

*Zone Conference is a missionary training for several groups of missionaries usually held every 3 months during the week.

**Stake Conference is a Sunday meeting when several wards or congregations in the area meet together.
Just a little disclaimer before I start: this email isn’t gonna be list of what I did this week. I’m going to talk about a topic that has interested me and I have been thinking about a lot lately. I know that some people that receive this email, whether they actually take the time to read it or just delete it, are not of the same faith as me. And since I am talking about something that was taught in my church, this might turn some people away. If you’ve made it this far, continue to bear with me. Hopefully I can help give some insights that are for everybody, not just a member of a specific faith. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, and that’s what I’m striving for, regardless of your religion. However, what I know of this topic is from my point of view in my religion, so if it conflicts with yours, just respectfully acknowledge the difference and don’t hate me. Along with that, the things I say and refer to are from my religion so I’ll do the best I can to explain it. In short, don’t just choose not to read this because I’m talking about something spiritual and I’m not of the same religion as you, I’m just trying to share some insights I have learned.

Consecration

The topic of consecration is something that keeps showing up a lot for me lately. I have noticed that consecration is sometimes viewed as something vague, and somewhat negative. Understandably vague though because I couldn’t find a definition of it in the Bible Dictionary, or True to the Faith (a handy little missionary tool that expounds on a lot of basic doctrinal topics). The only time that I have really seen the law of consecration is in the Doctrine and Covenants when Joseph Smith was commanded by God to institute it among the early Mormons in Kirtland (but I’ll come back to that example). There are several examples in the Bible where people are commanded to consecrate, but personal consecration is not explicitly defined. There are also times in the scriptures where the people are very righteous and obedient to God’s law, and the scriptures say that there was no poor or needy among them, meaning that the people took care of each other, were righteous, obedient and showed Christlike love for one another, like super righteous city of Enoch (see scriptures like Acts 2:41-47, Moses 7:18). Basically, the definition of the law of consecration that I had two weeks ago was a lot like the theory of communism. I thought it had to deal with nobody owning anything, and collectively, everybody owned everything and shared everything. This is why I personally thought of consecration in a negative way, but I have since changed my mind.

Personal Consecration

There are two different kinds of consecration, personal consecration and living the law of consecration. Personal consecration is the subject of this email, because this is the topic that I have been studying.  In Exodus, Moses commanded the Sons of Levi to consecrate themselves to the Lord, that He may bless them. In the Book of Mormon, there are several examples of righteous men consecrating themselves and also their brothers or sons to be priests or leaders of the church. So, as good Christian people, we should consecrate ourselves to the Lord. Well what does consecration mean? If we consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we dedicate ourselves to him. Easier said than done. When we get down to what that actually means, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Our Father in Heaven has given us all the we have. Everything you can thing of. He has given us our bodies, intelligence, possessions. Everything we see around us is His. Quite literally, everything we have has been loaned to us by God. We own nothing, it is all His. There is one thing, however that is ours, and is unique to us. It has been given to us by God, but it is the only thing in the whole world that is actually ours. Our will, and consequently, our agency. The right that we have to make choices is the only thing that is actually 100% ours. We can choose to do whatever we want, but sometimes, our choices don’t align with what our Father in Heaven wants for us to do, meaning our will doesn’t align with His will. Personal consecration is taking the only thing that is actually 100% truly ours, and also giving that to the Father. Personal consecration is perfectly aligning our will with the will of the Father, or dedicating ourselves entirely to him.

Aligning our will with His is not easy though. I want to share a story that I read in a March 3rd, 2013 CES Devotional for Young Adults titled ‘That We Might “Not… Shrink”‘ by modern day Apostle David A Bednar (look it up. It’s a really good talk). The purpose of the talk was to emphasize that not shrinking is better than just surviving, which is a lesson that Elder Bednar learned from Elder Neal A Maxwell. The story is about a young couple that was given a very large trial, and had to align their wills with the will of the Lord. About three weeks after the couple was married, the husband was diagnosed with bone cancer and the doctors found rumors on his lungs, so his chances weren’t very good. As a young couple, this would be devastating. I could not imagine being in the place of the young husband, who after three weeks of being married, might have to leave behind a 20 year old widow.  I immediately felt sympathy for them. The story is heartbreaking. The husband started chemo soon after he got the diagnosis and while he is in the hospital, his loving wife never leaves him, both fearing that he would not survive. Despite the dismal odds of 30% chance of surviving, the couple had unshakable faith that God could heal them.

He then had to have surgery to remove a tumor in his leg to see how the chemo was going and if they would have to have a more aggressive treatment. This is when Elder Bednar comes into the story. Elder Bednar came to visit the young couple and chat and then the young man asked the apostle for a blessing. Elder Bednar first asked the young couple a question that caught the young couple and even Elder Bednar himself, totally by surprise. He asked: “Do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?”

Every person has something in them called the natural man, which is a carnal, worldly part of our soul, that I can best describe as the little devil on our shoulder. As human beings, we naturally fear death, and when faced with death, we would rather choose the alternative. That’s our will. We want to live, which is understandable. However, if God needs us on the other side, for whatever reason, wanting to live is being selfish and rebellious. God has given us our lives, and likewise he has the power to take them from us at any moment. I’m not saying it’s easy, because it’s not. That’s a very, very hard thing. Personally, if I was faced with the same situation, I would have a tremendously difficult time accepting this. I would be terrified. I would be confused. I would want to live, but if we consecrate ourselves and align our will with His, we can come to the understanding though Christ’s Atonement to know that whatever happens is for a reason, and is from God. The couple came to that understanding, and also gained comfort in their faith of knowing that whatever happened, happened because He needed it to happen. The point Elder Bednar was trying to make, was that they needed to have the faith to be healed, but to also have the faith to pass away if that be God’s will. But why should we have faith if His will is what will prevail, no matter what? In this story, the young man came to realize that it was more important to know that Heavenly Father COULD heal him, but not necessarily would. The young man said he came to have the faith that Heavenly Father COULD, but whether or not it happened was up to him. We need to have that two way faith. We need to have total, 100% faith. When we have that faith and put off that natural man, the scriptures tell us that we “becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him” (Mosiah 3:19). He learned what it’s like to fully consecrate himself and his will to the Lord.

Having that faith to trust in the Lord totally, no matter the outcome, is living in a higher law and becoming more Christ-like, which is ultimately our goal here as humans. Even Christ himself, went though something similar. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Savior actually realized what was actually about to happen, He broke down. Throughout the New Testament, the Savior was always constant. He was always a source of strength and the people looked to Him. He never faltered, not once in the whole New Testament, not even when He had fasted for forty days and forty nights and Satan himself tempted Him. Christ not once faltered, except when it was time to preform the atonement. In Matthew, Christ says “My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death” (Matthew 26:38). Christ, who was the most perfect person who ever lived, realized what He was about to go through and He didn’t know if he could do it. Not only was he about to do the hardest thing in all mankind, but he was also utterly alone. He even pleads with the Father “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” He basically said “Father, I don’t know if I can do this. If there is some other way, let’s do it that way, and don’t make me go through with this.” He not only did this once, but three times. Many people don’t understand the gravity of what’s going on, because I didn’t. Christ was considering not going through with the atonement. If Christ would have chosen to not go through with it, all mankind would have been lost forever. There would be no Heaven for any of us, because there would be no way for the demands of justice to be fulfilled. Everyone’s souls would have been damned forever. It’s a pretty big deal. However, Christ knew his divine purpose and he knew he had to go through the atonement so eventually he said “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Christ completely aligned His will with the will of the Father, and consequently, saved all of our lives. Now, the atonement is something that we’ll never be able to understand completely, but as I come to learn more and more, I understand His love just a little more and am so grateful for His eternal sacrifice for me.
Now, I’m not going to actually tell you if this young man lived, or passed on because I want you to read the talk yourself. It’s a good talk and one can learn a lot from it if you prayerfully study it and seek to understand all of what it means.
In our lives, we might not necessarily be faced with having the faith to die, because that’s a pretty extreme example, but we will be faced with trials that we must endure. Maybe the Lord doesn’t need you to be in a specific job. Maybe it isn’t the Lord’s will for you to go to the college you want to or whatever.  We all have trials in our lives, and we have to know that whatever happens to us, happens for a reason and we need to have that faith to align our will with His. It may not even be a trial. The Lord may want us to be kind to somebody, or tell someone about Christ, and we have to have the faith to do that. I’m not perfect, and I’m not asking you to be. This is something I have to improve on, that’s why I have been studying it lately. It is a very, very hard thing to consecrate ourselves to the Lord, but if we do, the scriptures tells us we will be blessed.
One last thought: some people confuse the idea of sacrifice and consecration. My Mission President, President Ballard, said last Thursday at Zone Conference: “The difference between sacrifice and consecration is that sacrifice is willing to do something and consecration is wanting to do something.” Let us strive to better ourselves, and live the higher law of consecrating ourselves to the Lord. If we dedicate our lives to the Lord, we will be living His will and He will bless us. But don’t do it because we have to. Don’t just be willing to dedicate your lives to the Lord. Don’t just be willing to align your will with the Lord’s. Want to. Consecrate yourselves.
Thanks so much for making it this far. You probably feel like reading this was a trial, but it is something that I am striving to do and learning more about. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to serve a mission and consecrate my time somewhat to the Lord for these two years. I know that if we strive to be more like Christ and align ourselves with Him, we will be blessed. Next week’s email won’t be so heavy and intense. I just wanted to share what I have been learning recently.
Que tenga un buen semana.
Elder Davies

Elder Jeremiah Davies
Oregon Portland Mission
1400 NW Compton Dr Ste 250
Beaverton, OR 97006

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