Monday, January 2, 2017

Weekly Update~ "His Grace is Sufficient'

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope your New Year's was everything you hoped it to be and your resolutions are ambitious. This week, our brother Cedric stepped into the waters of baptism to kick off the New Year right. He is another one of Frank's referrals and it was awesome to see him, Leon who was also baptized recently, and him sitting together during the baptism program.

Speaking of Leon, I had the unique opportunity to bless the Sacrament with him yesterday. It was his first time, and he was nervous, so throughout the opening part of sacrament meeting, I was practicing the pronunciations of "thee" and "thy" with him. When it came down to it, he had to repeat a few times, but when he got it, he was relieved and happy. In Rwanda, because the church is so new. along with the priesthood bretheren, there are many meetings with repeated sacrament prayers. However, I love when these occurances happen, because it reminds me of what the Atonement is all about. It is a commandment that we are to be perfect even as the Savior and our Father in Heaven are perfect. They expect nothing short of that. However, they have provided the means to keep this commandment, as they have with all other commandments. The Atonement offers us as many tries as we need when we slip up until one day we become worthy heirs of all the father hath. In seminary, I remember the first time I listened to "His Grace is Sufficent" By Brad Wilcox. To be honest, as an immature high school kid, I don't remember much about that first time listening to it other than I picked out the fact that the Savior's grace covers a lot more than we think. However, I've studied that talk at least half a dozen times on my mission and it adds a few notes to my "singing the song of redeeming love" each time I read it. 
I love the way Brother Wilcox shares his previous view of the final Judgement compared to what it actually is:

In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.
Jesus checks His clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.”
Brad begs Jesus, “Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” That’s how I always saw it.
But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”
The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become pianists.
On my mission I have come to an understanding of what Grace is so much more fully. This last week, someone brought to Elder Grant and I's attention that we needed to repent and improve at taking reports from the zone because we had slacked off a bit on those responsibilites. We were able to repent and improve. Grace is what fills the gap when we fall short when we sin, but it is also what fills the gap when we've done all we can and that still isn't quite enough. For example, this week, on Sunday at sacrament meeting, we were remaining with two new investigators to find and were one investigator at church short for the standards of excellence. We were feeling a little disappointed, but then, when greeting people after the meeting had ended, we had discovered two young men, both by the name of Samuel, had come to church for the first time. One was invited by a member, the other attended the Christmas party last week.  We pulled both of them aside and taught them the Restoration in an empty classroom and it was a wonderful lesson. 
So, the next time a nervous, newly ordained priest repeats the sacrament prayer, remember that like the Bishop gives him as many tries he needs to get it right, the Lord gives us as many times to repent and improve until we attain perfection. For that reason, I am forever grateful. This year, make a resolution to become better at repenting daily. It is certainly one of mine. 

I love you all, 
Elder Hazen

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