When we think of the servants of the Lord who lived before our time, we think many times of the great prophets and heroes of the Bible or the Book of Mormon.
All had in common a desire to serve the Lord and their people. We remember Moses — who forsake a life as Prince of Egypt to guide and deliver the people of Israel from bondage — with all the difficulties, trials and blessings associated with that choice.
We remember Abraham — who walked with the Lord and his example as he sought the blessings of the priesthood and to be a righteous man until he became 'the Father of nations.'
We remember Nephi — his obedience and faith, as well as the search for personal testimony about the revelations given to his Father, Lehi.
We see them from this spiritual perspective and learn from their examples and choices. Their experiences help us grow spiritually, serve better, be more loving, faithful, obedient and be instruments in the Lord's hands wherever we are and within our sphere of action and influence. In other words, we come unto Christ and we strive to be perfected in Him.
On the other hand, we could choose as well to look at their lives from a different perspective; one that looks for flaws in them to justify our own faults or our lack of faith and commitment to the Lord.
Many of the challenges we face today are related to which perspective we use to live the gospel. One will certainly draw us near the influence of the Holy Ghost and the other will certainly as well lead us on a path that can result in losing the influence of the Spirit, because of or poor perspective and choices, lack of repentance, pride and worldly desires.
The Lord taught us in Matthew 6:24: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. Centuries before, Joshua said to Israel (Joshua 24:15, emphasis added): “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We live in an amazing time of revelation to help us become the best we can of ourselves. From ministering in a “new and holier way” to home-centered and Church-supported gospel living, we are being invited to grow spiritually, draw nearer to our savior and his example, and live and practice his gospel. In other words, love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves.
Sister Ivone Armada from the Luanda Stake in Angola decided in her life to use the Savior’s perspective as a guide to her gospel living. With her permission, I am sharing her comments. She wrote:
“At some point in my life I was finally able to stop working to keep up with my children's growth and home management. But I wanted to do something more, to contribute to the growth of one's life.
I prayed to the Lord and at the end of the prayer an “angel” was placed in my life — a friend who would begin to have instructions on how to be a facilitator to teach literacy classes.
We started the training for this and when it ended, I divulged the project in the Church and in the community and thus formed a class where I could teach during a school year for children and adults with literacy needs.
It was a great gift in my life, indeed for my whole family, since the preparation of the classes became a family project. This project became a beacon — not only in the students' lives but also in mine — I learned a lot about sacrifice with them, about perseverance.
Three years later, on the day of the creation of the Angola Stake, I had the great blessing of meeting with several of these students (an adult and the rest — young people) and how wonderful it was to hear them say that they never failed school again, they were so excited, my heartbeat fired and I remember looking up and saying in silence: “Thank you Father in Heaven”.
Upon hearing one of the adult sisters that attended the class say that because of these classes she was able to start a small business that has provided for her family's needs, we embraced each other, and we began to weep with gratitude. My husband and the people around me were perplexed to look, my husband realized why that embrace.
With this experience, what is found in Doctrine and Covenants 81:5 and 84:106 gained tremendous weight in my personal and spiritual growth. I became a more humble person and with the purpose of leaving a legacy of greater service to my “neighbor”.”
Thanks to this experience, Sister Ivone continues to contribute in training and developing others. She went over and beyond what was being asked, and used her time and talents to help others at Church and in her community. She indeed ministered to those in need and was blessed far beyond her expectations for that.
I invite all of us to do the same and seek for opportunities to serve our God and our fellow man, showing through service and love our love for God and his children. May the Lord Jesus Christ fill us with His love as we humbly seek Him through prayer, faith and good works — so we can be refined by the Master and fulfill His invitation to become more like Him. I testify that He lives. He loves us. He his mindful of us and His arms are always open to receive us back home again one day.