Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Repost: Remembering as a Foundation of Sharing the Gospel

As I've said previously, my mind wanders to and fro trying to understand everything a little better as I go about my daily life. What grounds me, however, are my experiences - things that are so vivid and unexplainable that I simply can't let my mind move me away from them. When you have experienced the truly miraculous, everything else is secondary.

For example, I would assert that the core of this experiential conviction is summarized perfectly in the foundational missionary verse we too often overlook while quoting those that follow. We speak constantly of the "challenge" written in Moroni 10:4-5, but when I attended Seminary so long ago, the verses we memorized included Moroni 10:3. In that verse, we are told to "remember" *before* we ponder and pray. We aren't told to read, ponder and pray; we are told to read, *remember*, ponder and pray - and we are told explicitly to remember how merciful the Lord has been throughout history. In effect, we are told to "experience" vicariously His grace and mercy toward others - that He has spoken to people for thousands of years - and use their experiences to help us come to believe that we can have a similar experience. Their experiences serve as the foundation for our faith in the possibility of our own.

I think we do a terrible disservice to our religion and its missionary effort when we preach "read, ponder and pray" apart from our collective, experiential memory - when we make gaining a testimony an intellectual, or even strictly prayerful, process void of contemplation and reflection on previous experience (both our own and others'). So, the next time you are sharing a "missionary moment" with someone, please remember to help them "remember" by sharing how merciful the Lord has been to you and others before you ask them to read, ponder and pray - or even attend Church with you. Testify of His grace and mercy first; of the things that He has taught you second; of the fact that He can do the same for them last. Too often we short-circuit that process and deprive both ourselves and others of an amazing experience.

7 comments:

backandthen said...

May be I should contact someone in the bishopric saying that I WANT to speak on this subject;o)

Papa D said...

That probably would floor them - but it's not a bad idea. *grin*

Christy said...

More wonderful food for thought. I was given the impression awhile ago that the people in my life that are reluctant to accept the gospel need to know just that - how merciful and loving and FORGIVING the Lord is. When I was inactive, actually, more than that, living a very worldly life, fear (the unhealthy kind) helped to keep me away from repenting. Then I was given a priesthood blessing and the first thing the priesthood holder said was that the Lord loves me. Those words may seem typical to some, but they were very powerful to me.

Very wise words indeed.

Stephen said...

we are told to "remember" *before* we ponder and pray -- we are to embrace gratitude, which is the state we will be if we hold on to the things that he wants us to remember, and that mindset of gratitude is one of the things Joseph Smith taught was a key to effective prayer.

Papa D said...

forgiveness and gratitude - great characteristics to relate to this topic, Christy and Stephen.

Joe said...

Hey Brother DeGraw. This is Brother Joe Johnson. We met when I was visiting the Hebdons and was baptized this summer. I love reading your blogs. It really is a blessing to me. I am grateful you take the time to do them.

May the Lord bless you Brother DeGraw.

Papa D said...

JOE FOUND MY BLOG!! HOLY COW!!

Thanks, Joe. You know I miss you, but I hope you are doing great out there in the Far West. Never lose your enthusiasm; it is an inspiration to those who sometimes forget that life is meant to be a ride - a roller coaster, sometimes, but a ride, nonetheless. You remind me of a missionary I knew once in Japan - and that is one of the best compliments I could give you.

JOE FOUND MY BLOG!! YIPPEE!!