Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Light In Their Eyes

I was sitting at work one day, second day on the job, and I was bored out of my mind. I’ve been back in the United States for not even two weeks, and I’m listening to a presentation about some software that isn’t applicable because we’re not allowed to use the software. At the end of the first day I wondered why I even accepted the job, how on earth this could be benefitting me, and just how long I would last.

So as I’m lost in thought about my dislike for this job, our trainer starts to divide us into groups. I’m with two guys who had introduced themselves briefly the day before, I remember that one is an ex-Marine and the other has worked at bars most of his life. I don’t know how to even begin a conversation that would include both of them, especially stuck in my own self pity of a wretched job. But then the bartender turned to me and asked, “So how was Portugal?”

The introductions the day before had been about 30 seconds. Everyone in our class introduced themselves with a set of 10 questions that our trainer gave us. I briefly talked about Portugal- what else do I remember about my recent life that’s worth explaining?- but it was very brief, and I was not expecting anyone to remember. But when the bartender asked, the ex-Marine, Greg, perked up and was very curious too. I remembered then that he also introduced himself explaining that he liked Gospel music, and I’d been very curious about the confidence he had to specifically include that detail. We started to talk about travel, I asked where either of them would really like to visit, and Greg started to talk about a mission trip his church would be taking to Guatemala in a few months for which he was very excited and very anxious. We talked about what it means to be a missionary, what kind of things they will do and what kinds of things I did. He asked about the name of the church, had only heard it in passing, and he and the bartender admitted that I was the first member of the church they’d ever met. I asked them if they’d ever read, or even heard of, the Book of Mormon. Neither had, and both willingly accepted a copy. I started to explain to Greg more about the Book of Mormon, but we were being dismissed from our groups and moving on to a new project. Greg said, “You know, before you even introduced yourself or talked to me, I thought there was something different about you. Your… manner, your… I don’t know how to explain it. Your way of being? Something was different. And then you got up and explained that you were a missionary, and I though, ‘Ah, that’s why.’”

I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. I’ve been home so little time but already felt so far from what it is to be a missionary. I thought that glow stayed in the stake president’s office at the exit interview. Normal life had started again, and the rush of adjusting left me feeling a little bit lost. And on top of that, I was in a rotten mood because of how much I hated my job. The one at which I had just been given an opportunity to share with someone else what it most precious to me.

I had some serious repenting to do : )

This brief interaction had a huge impact on me. I thought of a favorite scripture that I used many times in Portugal, which we find in Luke 11: 34.

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”

I grew to love this scripture because in the search for people with whom we could share our message, we could see in their faces the yearning to find something more, something better, and it truly was the look in their eyes. I really never thought about what it meant for our eyes, as missionaries. Of course people can tell who we are long before we talk to them, I always assumed it was the mantle of our calling, and that we just “glowed” in general. But it was much more than that.

In Isaiah 60:3, we learn,

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

People will be drawn to that light! That light, which we learn in Luke is manifest to the world through our eyes, will be the means of people seeking the truth and finding it. We have to work hard to maintain that light. Moroni teaches us that we were all born with the light of Christ, but just like a candle, the light has to be maintained or it will go out.

The Lord teaches us, through His instructions to Nephi, what we need to do to maintain that light.

And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.” (1 Nephi 17: 13)

How do we cultivate that light? We obey the commandments and recognize the Lord in our lives. He shows us His light so that we may emulate it, thereby having opportunities to be the light on a hill for those around us. That light that He shows us teaches us what we must do in every instance, every situation, even when we think the light is not there. I had no idea what I would say to either of these men when we had opportunity to talk. I was perhaps willing, but it took a minute for me to recognize the Lord trying to help me because of my grumbling attitude. In this is the mercy of the Lord- He just wants to love us and help us, even when we have selfish, or less than will of the Lord-seeking attitudes.

“ And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” (D&C 88:67)

In Luke 11, we learn our potential. In verse 67 we learn more about the potential and the promise, “that body…comprehendeth all things.” And in the following verse, we learn what it is that we need to do.

Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.”

What a wonderful promise! In this verse are so many of the glorious truths of the gospel- namely that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants our happiness more than we do. The Lord will guide us in everything He needs us to do! I know with certainty that this is a promise He constantly fulfills. The Lord wants us to have that light and joy in our lives, and He needs to bless us so that through us He may bless others.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this! I'm not familiar with Luke 11:34 but I have really grown to appreciate the symbolism of light in not just the scriptures but in people too so I appreciate you bring that one to light... pun intended... :) but I wanted to share a quote that scripture reminds me of. It's one of my favorites!

    "Every person who lives in this world radiates light, which affects and influences every other person in the world.
    The radiance of the light that emanates from our countenance is determined by the choices we make, and is a powerful force in human relationships.
    The Savior was conscious of that reality. Whenever He came into the presence of an individual He was conscious of a light emanating from that person's soul, and which was mirrored in his countenance. He knew the behavior and conduct, and the choices a person had made because that behavior and those choices were reflected by the radiating light in one's countenance.
    My dear brothers and sisters, we must make nobler choices. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. Every moment of life we are affecting, to a degree, the life of every other person with whom we may come in contact, and who comes within the sphere of our influence.
    Every person is affecting every other person who lives. We cannot for one moment escape this emanation, this radiation of light that emanates from our countenance.
    Life is a constant state of radiation and absorption of light. To exist is to radiate light; to exist is to be the recipient of light. And we choose the qualities we permit to be radiated by the light within us, determined by our behavior, and by the choices we make."

    -David O. Mkay