Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sacrifices....this won't be my last lesson either!

But what has become of me…well I can make a wicked Poke Bowel (a Hawaiian dish of raw, fish normally Ahi tuna), I can wash dishes in record time, make small talk with anyone, and can juggle 2 jobs, Crossfit, and a long distance relationship like a pro. Am I tired? Yes…do I want this to be the rest of my life no!! I’m hoping to cut it down to one job, keep Crossfit, and finally have a normal close distance relationship (28 more days till I be in AZ).

This past month I got the chance to learn something that will help me later on down the road. I feel I have been able to learn the true meaning of sacrifice.  It’s something I taught many investigators. However, I was only able to share other peoples’ experiences. Now I finally have one of my own (that I’ll use when I go out with the missionaries).
As I was leaving the mission, I remember being told (by who I have no clue) the importance of being generous with your fast offering. Meaning, instead of thinking “So lets say I ate breakfast at McDonalds and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch…so I will give X amount for fast offerings.” But in turn think “I went to IHOP for breakfast and I got the decked out strawberries and cream pancakes with eggs and bacon and an extra side of hash browns because you know how I love me some potatoes and then for lunch you hit up Red Robin’s because their burgers are soooooo good and their bottomless fries are heaven…so I will give X amount for fast offerings.” See how your end up giving (maybe even sacrificing) more for your fast offering? Even President Kimball agrees with that stating, “ I think we should be very generous and give, instead of the amount we saved by our two meals of fasting, perhaps much, much more—then times more where we are in a position to do it.”
However, why do we really pay fast offerings? I mean, besides the obvious reason of helping those in need, why are we asked to give that money we would’ve used for two meals?? I couldn’t have put it better than Isaiah when he speaks about it in chapter 58, verses 8-11

 ¶Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.
 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

I’ll leave it to you to count the blessings promised to those who obey the law fast in those verses. I really want to focus on one promised blessing. “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, here I am.” Wow! I love that promise! In regards to this scripture, President Harold B. Lee said, “ Do we ever want to be in a condition where we can call and he WON’T answer? We will cry out in distress and he WON’T be with us? I think it is time we are thinking about these fundamentals because these are the days that lie ahead, when we are going to need more and more blessings of the Lord.” Um, yeah…who wouldn’t want to have the confidence that they could receive the Lord’s help when it’s most needed? I don’t know about you, but I sure would!

Then again, while the blessings to come are a bit motivating, we must always remember, what we do for our neighbor, we do unto the Lord. When we have others in mind as we pay our fast offering we end up helping ourselves. All in all, fast offering isn’t so much for others, but for us. To prepare us “for the day when the higher law, that of consecration, will again become the financial law of the Church through which we will properly take care of the poor. Until that time, it is our responsibility and blessings—as a matter of fact, our covenant—to give generously from our surplus to bless the poor.” (Fast Offerings: Fulfilling our Responsibility to others, Bishop Victor L. Brown)

So what was it that I learned for myself this month about fast offerings? Well, as I was getting ready to seal up the envelope that contained my tithing and fast offering, I got this feeling like it wasn’t enough. In my head I thought, “well, yeah that should be good enough” So I got up and went to do other things. As I was going along my business, that same feeling came back, but stronger. I walked back into the kitchen opened up the envelope, opened my wallet and just sat there thinking ‘how much is enough Lord?!’. I then proceeded to take the rest of the money (all from tips) and one by one put them into the envelope. Once I had put all my left over ones in that little grey envelope the feeling had left me. I cried a little…still not really sure why, maybe out of my own selfishness or just realizing how faithless I had been. Either way I was taught a valuable lesson on how I should never be greedy with my fast offerings. Sacrifices are not easy at all, but they bring many blessings down the road. Let’s not forget that this offering is a “freewill” offering…meaning its up to us to decide what is generous or not. Yet let us remember what the Prophets have said about this matter. But in the end it is you and the Lord, and with the guidance of the Spirit you will be able to determine what the right amount is for your fast offering.

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