Good morning, brothers and sisters. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and got to spend some quality time with family and friends.
It is a privilege to be here today and speak to you on my last Sunday here before I leave on my mission this week. And I really mean it when I say it’s a privilege to be here today, because the past week has been a very challenging and humbling time for me.
On Wednesday, the day before Christmas Eve, Dad and I were on our way to Greenstone/Caples track for our 4-day Christmas tramp. We had planned this trip for a long time and we were really excited to go on our last holiday together before I leave on my mission in a week.
We had driven for a few hours from Dunedin, past Queenstown and we were probably around half an hour away from our destination. We were driving towards the start of our track when suddenly our back tyre popped and we lost control of the car on a gravel road. Within a blink of an eye, Dad and I were hanging upside down inside the car with only the seatbelt holding us up. Our car had somehow swerved a few times and flipped both vertically and horizontally, and we were stuck in a ditch by the road.
It still amazes me that both of us survived this crash without any injuries. The whole back window had shattered so there were glass pieces everywhere around us, but we managed to escape without a single scar.
Some of you might think that this is a sad experience and a miserable way to start our Christmas season… but to be honest, I’ve never felt so much gratitude in my life and prayed so sincerely, not just asking God for some more blessings like I usually do, but thanking the Lord for the gift of life.
In D&C section 68 verses 5 and 6, it reads “Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.”
Through my faith in Jesus Christ, I was able to over come fear and stress. It has helped me to find positivity in this somewhat frightening situation. Knowing that Jesus Christ suffered much greater pain and stress when he atoned for us really helped me to see this experience with a bigger & eternal perspective.
This experience has given me a fresh outlook on life and I feel comforted in knowing that I still have things Heavenly Father wants me to experience and accomplish in my mortal life on the Earth. And for me, the first thing is to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father protected us because if I had even a minor injury, I wouldn’t have been able to leave on my mission in a few days.
It may sound strange, but I think that this was the best pre-mission experience I could’ve ever had. It has humbled me in such a way that has helped me to reflect on my priorities and strengthened my faith of our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ; and how they all work together to guide us through our lives.
I believe that God allows us to experience certain things in our lives so that we can learn from them and hopefully grow our faith in Jesus Christ. And I know that He has let us experience this crash so that I can become a better person and a better missionary.
There are so many lessons I learnt in the past week, but one of the biggest lessons I learnt was the importance of living by faith and not by fear. I am the type of person who worries a lot about the future a lot. But reflecting on this experience has made me appreciate the present. I learnt that it’s meaningless to worry and fear about the future, but rather, we can enjoy life by moving forward in faith in Jesus Christ.
As it says in Alma 32, faith is to hope for things that are true but not seen. Although we cannot physically see Jesus Christ in person at this time, as we put our trust in Him, He will watch over us and to help us to get through our trials. And I can testify that He will provide us with peace and comfort through the Holy Ghost, because I’ve felt it numerous times in the past week.
Elder Bednar explained in the April General Conference this year, that “Correct knowledge of and faith in the Lord empower us to hush our fears because Jesus Christ is the only source of enduring peace.
Elder Bednar continues… “The peace Christ gives allows us to view mortality through the precious perspective of eternity and supplies a spiritual settledness that helps us maintain a consistent focus on our heavenly destination. Thus, we can be blessed to hush our fears because His doctrine provides purpose and direction in all aspects of our lives. His ordinances and covenants fortify and comfort in times both good and bad. And His priesthood authority gives assurance that the things that matter most can endure both in time and in eternity.”
Although we may have lost our car, a few of our belongings and couldn’t go on our tramp, as Elder Bednar explained, “the things that matter the most can endure both in time and in eternity”, and I guess when we are put in a situation like this – you realize what is really important in our lives. And that is our faith and the people around us – family, friends and other.
I am beyond grateful for all of the people who were willing to help us through this whole journey, especially the man who stopped and helped us get out of the car, the couple who picked us up from the side of the road and gave us a ride, Sister & Elder Christensen, the senior missionaries in Cromwell who helped us get home safely and families & friends who welcomed us into their home for family dinner on Christmas night. They all had one thing in common, and it was Christ’s attribute of charity and love.
As Jesus Christ is my savior, everyone who helped us during this challenging week was also my saviour. And I think that is our ultimate goal – to become more like Christ. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we should be actively striving to develop the attributes of Jesus Christ including hope, charity and love, patience and humility.
In 2 Nephi 20 in the Book of Mormon, it says “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastnessin Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a loveof God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
I feel more prepared than ever to go out and serve the Lord as a missionary. I feel confident and excited to fulfil Lord’s plan for me. I hope that all of us can recognize and give sincere thanks for the gift of life we all get to enjoy everyday.
I pray that as we approach the end of 2015 and a new start of 2016, that we will able to move forward with faith and hope. I hope that through our faith in Jesus Christ, all of us can be more like our Saviour, and actively find ways we can serve & love our family, friends and others more each day.
And I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.