Friday, October 23, 2015

The Grace of God

I know I haven't posted in a while, but honestly, it's been the last thing on my mind.

You see, cross country's been drawing to a close, and I've been with this program for four years. Not once have I gone to the state meet. Coach only takes the top 7 runners and an alternate, along with four-year seniors. However, for whatever reason, I only ran for a few weeks my freshman year, so technically, I wasn't a four-year senior.

Since I wanted my last year to be the one I went to state, I worked hard. I set goals, I ran my guts out. I did everything I needed to do to get to state. At one meet I placed 17th and got a medal. At Regionals I ran Varsity.

However this Monday, Coach told us who was on the state team, and despite running good times, despite working so hard, I ended up as the 9th runner on my team, just below the alternate.

That was it. I had given it my all and it wasn't enough. I wasn't good enough. My best just wasn't where it needed to be. All these other boys got where they were on natural talent. I didn't have that, and there was no more I could give to become where I needed to be.

And if this whole ordeal wasn't bad enough, at the same time, I had been fighting something for some time. I'd rather not get into that, but it was similar. Something personal that no matter how much I tried, no matter how much I worked, it wasn't enough. I would never be good enough to reach my goal. I would never be truly happy.

Now this is a terrible story, until you realize where I am right now. At a hotel in Sheridan, Wyoming. The city the state cross country meet will be held.

You see, after Coach announced who will be running at state, and talking to the JV runners who didn't make it, I figured that was it. Until Coach asked me to stay a little longer.

I thought that he'd talk to me about how much I had worked. About how the other boy had just worked harder. But that wasn't it.

He said I was so close to being a four-year senior. I was only a few weeks off. He couldn't justify leaving me home because of a few weeks, and decided to take me anyway.

As I ran that day for the workout, I found it hard to control my emotions. I feel unworthy of it. I mean, I hadn't made it. I didn't work hard enough to deserve it. But I would be going.

I felt something tell me that it was the same with that thing I had been fighting. I had tried my best, and that was enough.

The grace of God is an amazing thing. I've felt that for the first time this week, a true understanding of it. It is by grace we are saved after all we can do, and I am so grateful for that.

Would I like to run? Sure, if two of our runners go out, I will. But I'm glad I'm here. I glad that I was lucky enough to go. Emotions have been rampant recently. I can think of only one time I've had more on my mind, and that was for good reason.

I am so grateful that God was merciful enough to let me come to state, as well as help me through my trials. I love God for everything He's done for me, and I can feel his love. The kind of love that a father has for his son.

I might have to keep running after high school so I can keep learning things about life. But hey, that's just a thought.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

7 Steps For Conference

Conference is coming up guys! I think this is going to be a pretty interesting one. There hasn't been a conference with this many vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve for over one hundred years.

But we'll always have good talks at conference. The reason we have conference is so we can hear the Lord's will for us in our time. There's so many good things to hear at conference that it's almost impossible to get every single message in there. But we don't need every one.

The Lord has a message for each of us every single conference. And I want to help you guys get the most out of conference. Because after all, this ain't my first pony ride. The last few conferences I've had questions. They've all been answered.

Odds are, you've heard to go into conference with a question. And that's just one parts of this process I'll give you to get the most out of conference.

1) Find out what you need.
This is the whole, find a question, thing. How are you going to find what you need, if you have no idea what you're looking for?

You need to look at your life. What do you need? What are you struggling with? What do you need to do better? Pinpoint exactly what you need. And if necessary, find a few. I for one, will find a few things that I need. Because I need them. I might as well look for them.

2) Pray
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" (Matthew 7:7). You can't assume you'll get the answer you need if you don't ask for it.

Put your need into the form of a question, and ask God for the answer.

Now keep in mind, asking for inspiration is almost never a casual things. You always have to have faith. If you just say the prayer, than you might get something out of it. But not the most. No. You have to have faith that'll you'll find your answer.

You have to look for it. You have to want it. You have to ask for it. God will never withhold a message from you. He will always tell you what you need to know, if you simply ask.

3) Ponder it out in you mind.
This is one step I'm afraid many people who are searching for an answer neglect. And the thing is, this is honestly when a lot of the inspiration comes. God will take this moment of pondering to help you ask the right question.

If it's not the question you should be asking him, odds are, he'll put it out of your mind somehow, so you ask a different, more worthy question.

But anyway, pondering is important. As I've said, from experience, pondering is where most inspiration comes. God may not give you all the information you need in this time. But he'll give you enough, so you'll get the rest at conference.

Use the time between your prayer, and 10 am on Saturday to read the scriptures and previous conference talks. Or even just think.

4) Watch it.
Super obvious step. People watch conference in their own way. Hopefully you know what works for you. I for one take notes on my laptop. This helps me pick out the important stuff, instead of just hearing all the context.

If I hear a quotable quote, I write it down. If I hear something that hits me hard, I write it down. But of course, if you have a way of watching conference that works better for you, by all means. Do it.

5) Ponder it (again).
This is where you will receive inspiration. Either here or while you watch it. Think about the messages you heard. Try to make sense of them. Look at your notes. What stood out to you the most? How can that help you? How could it answer your question.

6) Pray for thanks.
How could you forget this? God commands us to "receive all things in a thankful state". You just received an answer to your prayer! How can you not thank the source?

Simply thanking God for what you've received will bless you, and if you don't thank Him, He pretty much told you for nothing.

7) Use and apply the messages.
What a load of good conference does you if you skip this one. This is why you needed to hear that message! You have to act now. Otherwise these men just spent months planning a talk that you needed to hear, and they essentially wasted time with you.

When Lehi's family studied the scriptures, they "applied the scriptures unto themselves". Conference is scripture. It is the word of God directly to us. If we are to apply the scriptures, it seems very important that we apply conference talks (in some cases more important than the standard works).

I can promise you that if you do these things, you will get the most you can out of General Conference. If you have a question, ask it now, than do what you need to do to receive an answer.

The great part, is that this need not only apply to conference. It could apply to church. To firesides. Even to your daily scripture study.

If you really want inspiration from God, you can receive it. If you need to know something, God is simply waiting for you to ask for it. He will give it you.

But hey, whatever works. It's just a thought.