Today, the Indianapolis West Stake received a new stake president. It is also the 200th anniversary of the statehood of Indiana, so the new stake president will lead us into the next century.
I was fortunate to know the previous stake president well, having served with him for about 6 years on the high council. I am amazed at the love and devotion this man (and his wife) have given to the stake over the past 9 years.
Recently, I rediscovered some old friends from the late 1980s while looking on Facebook. Over the years, she and her daughters became disaffected from the Church, and eventually left it. She told me that she felt “liberated” at leaving the Church. For her, the Church had become too restrictive. I think she was tired from trying to earn her way into heaven, and so chose an easier path.
Sadly, many do not understand the gospel of Christ. We do not earn our way into heaven. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Unfortunately, previous statements from old LDS books suggest that grace doesn’t go much beyond resurrection, and obedience is the first law of heaven. Happily, the recent teachings from the Brethren focus on grace, atonement, and the peace the gospel brings.
I know when I am properly focused on these things, the gospel is liberating for me. Not as the world offers freedom, but as God offers it. Not the peace the world offers, but the peace Christ gives.
I cannot explain to others the joy and peace I’ve felt serving in the temple. To ponder upon the promises made in the initiatory, endowment and sealings. There is great power and hope in those words.
And the things I’ve learned from my stake president over the past years are priceless. I have not found anything on earth that can match the wonders. Yes, being a Mormon can be challenging. It requires time and effort. It requires all of one’s heart and soul. But the spiritual rewards just cannot be compared. All other things pale. Fun times are passing, but the spiritual experiences I’ve had carry me through all the difficult times, with hope that I will be together with my loved ones in the Celestial Kingdom.