Salzburg zone conference, August 2012
Ach du meine gute, the email today is going to be a little different haha. First, I think it would be cool to see what Elder Janis is up to, so if you want to send his stuff then I am fine with it. Also, I can't wait to hear where Logan is going! I keep hoping it will be in the next email, but next week sounds for sure.
Okay, my week was very good, Federica and her family are doing well, and I guess I never explained who the Halls were. They are the missionary couple here in Klagenfurt. The Washington couple is the Bryants (I think that's their name). So the Halls are very helpful and good to have here.
Well, last week Dad asked me my thoughts about the parable of the sower. So, this email will probably be composed mostly of my answer. Here we go:
So, the parable of the sower. First, we know the 4 situations. A sower goes and sows his seeds, and 1) they fall to the side and don't grow; 2) they fall in stony ground and have no strong roots; 3) they fall among thorns, which choke them; and 4) they find good ground, and grow and bring forth fruit. So, I want to point out the comparison of this parable and 1 Nephi 8 (thanks to Bro Sell and seminary haha). 1 Nephi 8:21-33 or so to Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23. Just compare those two.
Now, who is the sower? I decided it is a missionary, a parent, a teacher, a leader, a friend; we are all sowers! What do we sow, hopefully? Seeds: faith, repentance, hope, basically gospel truths.
My first question was what makes a good sower? But in looking that up, I found Psalms 126:5-6, which I really liked. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." I really liked that, but that made me ask another question: why do we weep? So I thought of things that make people weep, that overwhelm them. My first thought was SELF-SACRIFICE. First, Mosiah 3:19, about the natural man. It is hard to put off the natural man, and that could be overwhelming. Giving yourself up is hard! It would be frustrating. Now, Matthew 10:39, where we are promised that he who loses his life shall find it. Also Luke 14:33, where it says we cannot be disciples of Christ without forsaking everything! Mensch, is that easy? Not at all! Tears, frustration, those would definitely be caused by that. Omni 1:26, offer our whole soul unto God. Is that even possible??!! Once again, giving up everything we have = tears, frustration, weeping. Thinking more about sacrifice, I thought of selflessness, which is basically impossible for the natural man. It made me think of Elder Bednar´s "Character of Christ" that we saw in the MTC. Christ turned outward when the natural man (us) would turn inward. Christ is the perfect example of selflessness and charity (Moroni 7:45 talks about chraity, and all of those qualitites would also be very hard to develop well). So, loving all people around you, being selfess, for the natural man (us) = impossible!! How frustrating is that??! That is why we weep, no? I also thought on the side that the only perfect example of selflessness and charity was the ATONEMENT. (Elder Holland said that).
So in summary of why we weep:
1st conclusion: we are so overwhelmed by the immensity of the task of becoming like Christ, overwhelmed by the impossibilty of such a task!! We are just beat, and we weep. We are HUMBLE, but maybe not in the way we should be... Then I thought a little more... i thought of a second option.
2nd option: we recognize that we cannot do it, not by ourselves. In so doing, we are HUMBLE, and we turn to the Lord and have HOPE through His Atonement that all will be well. Then, we weep with joy and this hope, that only comes through our Savior. We will always have trials and afflictions, but we will be humble (this way is a better humble I believe; see Alma 32:15-16) and we will learn and grow.
So with these two options, it seems to leave one point: we get to choose why we weep. Out of frustration, or for joy? You decide.
Next question: what exactly does weeping mean? Look at James 4:9, which is rather depressing haha. But the Greek Translation for the "be afflicted" is Endure hardship and suffer harrassment. We all do that, oder? We know how that goes. Many times, we mourn as well, like it says next. It is a natural reaction to hard times. But there are several wonderful promises that are found in the scriptures. Job 5:11, mourner may be exalted. Jeremiah 31:13, mourning is turned to joy, through the Lord. Nephi 8:11, When Christ comes again, all mourning and sorrow flee away. What promises! We still go though hard things. Some are much too close to "unbearable" for us, but all will be well. Now, to "weep." Look at 2 Corinthians 7:10, weeping is GODLY SORROW. That makes a bit more sense now, oder? We weep with godly sorrow, because we know our imperfections. Now, once again, do we become frustrated or do we choose to learn and grow? Your choice. So, according to James 4:9, our trials and afflictions, our mourning, go hand in hand (hopefully it is so) with godly sorrow, leading to salvation (see 2 Cor. 7:10 again). Also, Mosiah 18:9 talks about mourning, and eventaully having eternal life.
Okay, look back on those capitalized words so far. These were words that I thought best described the things and circumstances that make us weep, so I highlighted them in my notes. I looked back and realized something afterwards. SELF SACRIFICE, HUMBLE (HUMILITY), GODLY SORROW, HOPE, and ATONEMENT. What do those make you think of? REPENTANCE is what I thought of. That was pretty cool to look back and see that. You can see how everything in the gospel goes back to the Atonement! Well, repentance, the lifelong process that makes us better and helps us learn. We have all experienced this in some way or another. I would say that it is often a cause of weeping, eh? But we can rememeber, next time, that we should examine why we are weeping: frustration or joy, humility?
So to conclude weeping. Psalms 126:5-6 says that the sower (us, missionaries, teachers, leaders, parents, and friends) who goes forth and weeps (I would say goes forth repentantly, understanding the Atonement) bearing precious seed (make sure it is the right seeds you are planting, of course!!!) will be blessed with rejoicing and sheaves. Wow, that meant a lot to me as a missionary, but it is talking about all of you too!! More scriptures about blessings: D&C 75:2-5, D&C 18:15-16, Pslams 30:5, Alma 32:43, D&C 109:76. I can't summarize them with this much time left sorry haha. That's your job.
Next question, what makes a good sower (back to my first question)? Look at James 4:9 again, but throw in 10 too. Humility comes back again. That is a big one! Look also, in accordance with humility, at Matthew 23:12 and Omni 1:26 (offering your soul takes serious humility). These three scriptures all talk about humility = lifted up, exalted, saved. So, be humble!!! Many of the aforementioned scriptures about blessings also talk about the qualities of a good sower. So look at those with this new question. Also see Alma 26:21-22; talks about the natural man again, and things that a sower does, and more blessings of reaping.
So, a good sower = repentant, faithful, prayerful, does good works, humble, patient, long suffering, kind, bears others´ burdens, stands as a witness in all times, in all things, in all places (that was Mosiah 18:8-9 again). Wow, maybe the path to becoming a good sower makes us weep a little, oder?
Last question, how do we sow? I am out of time, so look at DC 6:33 (also look at 1 Peter 3:17 with that one), Galations 6:7-8 (look at Gal. 5:22-23 with that one), and finish with James 3:18 ( the peace is that one comes from repenance I think, understanding the Atonement).
Well, that's a lot to think about, eh? I really enjoyed studying that, as you can probably see. But I must go :(
I love you all, and I know that we can always become better and become better sowers! Always sow good seeds, everyone is watching, even when you don't know. Never stop smiling, it helps a lot :)
I love you
Elder Jalen L. Gibbons