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Monday, August 13, 2012
Motivational Monday: "Packing Your Wagon"
Some time ago, my niece Shelly called my home to report what sounded to me like a condition of epidemic proportion. She was in college, and it was just before finals. Shelly explained that she and her roommates were stressed out and needed a place to escape for the weekend. I, of course, was delighted to provide the place. They said there had hardly been a weekend or even a day when they had not been completely overloaded. “So much to do and so little time” was their comment as they talked of schedules, commitments, expectations, pressures, and even some anxieties about dates, deadlines, decisions, finances, future obligations, and unlimited opportunities.
Too often we allow ourselves to be driven from one deadline, activity, or opportunity to the next. We check events off our calendar and think, “After this week things will let up,” or “After this semester …” or “After graduation, then the pressure will ease.” We live with false expectations. Unless we learn to take control of the present, we will always live in anticipation of better days in the future. And when those days arrive, we shall still be looking ahead, making it difficult to enjoy the here and now. The beautiful fall leaves come and go and in our busyness we miss them.
We live in a time when we can do more, have more, see more, accumulate more, and want more than any time we have ever known. I believe if possible the adversary would keep us busily engaged in a multitude of trivial things in an effort to keep us distracted from the few vital things that make all of the difference.
We live in a time when too often success is determined by the things we gather, accumulate, collect, measure, and even compare in relation to what others gather and accumulate. This pattern of living invites its own consequences and built-in stress.
It is as we learn to simplify and reduce, prioritize and cut back on the excesses, that we have enough time and money for the essentials, for all that we ultimately want and even more.
We read about the pioneers who, in the early history of the Church, left their possessions, “their things,” and headed west. Those who were with the handcart company, who would push or pull their carts into the wilderness, would give much thought to what they would make room for in their wagons and what they would be willing to leave behind. Even after the journey began, some things had to be unloaded along the way if people were to reach their destination.
Today our tests are different. We are not called to load our wagons and head west. Our frontier and wilderness are different, but we too must decide what we will make room for in our wagons and what is of highest value.
What is it that drives a people to sacrifice all, if necessary, to receive the blessings available only in the temple? It is their faith and a spiritual witness of the importance of our covenants with God and our immense possibilities. It is in the temple, the house of the Lord, that we participate in ordinances and covenants that span the distance between heaven and earth and prepare us to return to God’s presence and enjoy the blessings of eternal families and eternal life.
As we take an inventory of the things we are carrying in our wagons and make decisions about what we will be willing to leave behind and what we will cling to, we have guidance. The Lord has given us a great promise to which I bear my testimony. He has said, “Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you. Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things. And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:5–7).
When we understand that our covenants with God are essential to our eternal life, these sacred promises become the driving force that helps us lighten our load, prioritize our activities. eliminate the excesses, accelerate our progress, and reduce the distractions that could, if not guarded, get us mired down in mud while other wagons move on.