"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." - Moroni7:47
A North Carolina autumn is truly a sight to behold. I have been bedazzled this whole week as trees have started to explode with color all around me. Elder Herr has had to put up with me suddenly stopping on my bike to take pictures.
This week had a few fun events. For example, it was the first time that I've had an investigator cry during the recital of the First Vision. We also had one of the recent converts in the ward, sweet little Brother McCray, talk to us about how he'd been reading the sacrament prayers in the book of the prophet Macaroni.
"Moroni," we corrected.
We had about eight lessons lined up this week with a member present -- which would have been the most I'd had my entire mission -- but they all fell through except for one of them. A bit saddening.
On Friday we were forced to retreat indoors due to heavy rain. As much as I loved my time biking in the rain back in January, I felt that I would spare Elder Herr that experience. :) While we sat inside our apartment waiting out the storm, I turned on a DVD with short documentaries about the lives of the modern-day prophets and began to watch a few. During the documentary of John Taylor, the video mentioned his presence in Carthage Jail, and how he sang "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" immediately prior to when the Prophet was martyred.
Perhaps it was the rain, or the fact that my mother has recently been reading "The Work and the Glory," or that I had happened to stumble upon and read that book series' account of the Martyrdom just a week before, or perhaps it was the way that the song was presented in the documentary. Whatever it was, the words of that song hit me with a lot of power, and I immediately got an idea for a picture.
I have never taken any art classes and my natural talent is not that great, but I tried my best to create the image that had popped into my mind. To help explain my thought process behind the picture, I will share some of the lyrics with you.
A poor wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not power to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye,
That won my love; I knew not why.
Next this man was starving. Then he was dying of thirst. Homeless, and then beaten and stripped, and then:
In prison I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for Him would die.
When Joseph had gone to the woods to pray, all he had been looking for was an answer. He received much more. He had seen God. He had seen the Savior. He had seen things that other men would have given anything to see. He did not know that that prayer, offered in the peace of a sheltered grove, would end up taking him through fire and pain and cold and darkness. But the other Speaker in that conversation hadknown what would happen. Knowing what Joseph would have to endure, the Savior had called him to be a prophet.
Joseph had borne affliction before Carthage Jail, to be sure. He had been beaten and imprisoned, betrayed and abandoned. But I am certain that as Joseph sat there in that upper room, listening to John Taylor sing, awaiting his martyrdom, that perhaps he thought about the words of that verse. I would imagine that he thought of the Savior, whose face he had first seen and whose voice he had first heard twenty-four years before. We can only imagine what the Savior sounds like, but Joseph actually knew. And I am sure that he could hear that voice ask the question in the song.
"Joseph, would you die for Me?"
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried,
At baptism we promise the Lord that we will keep His commandments. In the temple we make a further promise with Him that we would do anything and everything for Him, should He ask.
The Savior can require us to make such a promise because He was willing to do everything for us.
"Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
That is the love that we are here to acquire during our earthly existence. When we love God enough to do anything. Even give up our life for Him.
Then in a moment to my view
The Stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in His hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name He named,
"Of Me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me."
I know that this Church is true. The Savior's love continues to astound me. I have felt it. I have felt it very abundantly. I know that He is there. He directs this Church. It is His. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that President Monson is, too. This is the work of the Lord.
I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!