Monday, June 2, 2014

A Church for Thinkers

This week has offered us some intense experiences. There's an elderly couple from our ward who we've been visiting the past few weeks. I'll say it up-front, those visits have not been my favorites. The woman is an active member, and her husband has removed himself from church records, and has become argumentative. They often talk and talk and talk, while we nervously watch the clock, hoping we can get something of a lesson in before we have to run for our lives to catch the one bus that comes every hour. We've even nodded off a little bit, to my embarrassment. Last week during our regular visit, nothing particularly new happened, but for whatever reason, I looked at this old, cranky, stubborn, argumentative man, and thought, "I can't help it- I love this guy!" We've discussed several times if we should keep going back, and we always get the feeling to try some more. He hasn't let missionaries visit in ages, and his wife is always so pleased to see us come. Sunday was a big day with a lot of visitors and less-actives coming to church, so it wasn't until Sacrament meeting ended that I turned around and saw a little man in a handsome suit sitting quietly in the back corner. Several sisters commented on this miracle during Relief Society, and his wife in particular looked like she couldn't be more pleased. We didn't expect him to come- he made no comments suggesting that he would be there, and yet there he was. A miracle.

Another miracle has been Dave. He's already investigated the church several times, and his greatest strength- his ability to think and process things, is also the source of a myriad of complex concerns that he unloaded to us the other day. He feels like he has too many doubts and questions, like accepting the Gospel as truth would take away his ability to reason or have his own theories on things. It was funny to me how all of his deep concerns- doubts about God, fears for eternity, etc. are things that I would think 99% of church members experience, even us missionaries. How many times have I woken up, and thought, "What on earth am I doing? What am I telling people?" Too many to count. But when a testimony is grounded on simple truths about Heavenly Father, Christ and His atonement, and the restoration of truth after years of apostasy, there's always a safe, simple, sure place for my mind to go back to when things seem complicated. Dave is one of the most sincere, thoughtful, compassionate people I can think of. It's a privilege to be a part of his learning process, and my heart gave a little leap for joy when, after voicing a significant amount of worries about the church, he practically scheduled our next appointment for us, and gave a non-Lord's-Prayer-prayer (one of the best I've heard) at the end of the lesson, despite also having given our opening prayer. He also enjoyed church on Sunday. :)

Sisar Heggie and I talked to a man the other day. We asked him about his feelings on God, and he told us that he's studied science far too much to believe in God. Weak minds attribute things to God. We cut that one short, and went on our way. I want to bear testimony that this church is a church for thinkers. If we're not asking questions, probing into our deepest selves, we're not progressing. We become spiritually stagnant. We're not making use of the miraculous brains that Heavenly Father has given us. If we don't question, we can't find answers. We can't gain the knowledge and conviction that will drive us to meet our potential in this life and the next. One of the greatest gifts I've been given in this life is parents who both have sharp minds and who use them regularly. I'm so thankful for the active mind I've been blessed with, and the ways that Heavenly Father has helped me use it to my advantage, and especially in helping others. As it states in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel (the chapter on Christ-like attributes) we cannot be saved in ignorance.

So go out, get a book from the library. Learn a new skill, a new language, find something fascinating about the world around you and figure out how something works. Dive into the scriptures (and of course, Preach My Gospel) and apply what you learned about the world we live in to the kingdom of God. How does the Atonement apply? Never stop learning- that's the way that Heavenly Father intends for it to be.


Sisar Hansen

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