There was a time not too long ago, when my vision of shining the light of Christ was obscured by an intense desire to reach the whole world. I held good intentions, but the yearning to change the world through inspiring words gave me the false illusion that my work was only important if I had more followers. I felt like Alma who wrote,
“Oh, that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people.
“Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.”
But then he caught himself and rebuked his wish. In words of soberness, he said,
“But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.” (Alma 29:1-3)
This year, something has shifted within me and the contentment of which Alma spoke distilled upon my heart. A week-long escape with my family to our cabin helped me shave away the chaff from my life and realize just how magical the ordinary day can be, and just how needed I truly am right here in my very own home. The role of wife and mother took on the rosiest of hues, and since that week, there has been nothing more important to me than my roles of nurturer, homemaker, and teacher to my precious children.
And then, too, a unique gift was bestowed upon me as I attended the temple one early summer day. I was gifted a change of heart. My desire changed from wanting to reach the whole world to only wanting to minister to my family and those in my small sphere — one by one. I am still striving to be a keeper of the light, but now I am shining my light closer to home. I don’t need followers — I want to be a follower of my Lord and Savior. My mission is merely to point others to the Master in the smallest and simplest of ways. I feel to proclaim as did John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
So with little grandeur or fanfare, I wholeheartedly homeschool my four precious children and together we are learning to serve one by one. We are saving money to start a small family charity called “Blossoms of Grace” in which we can take bouquets of flowers to the residents of a local care center each month. We are creating “boxes of sunshine,” to give to those who may need some extra love. And I continue to write words of encouragement on this small and simple blog — only now I know it doesn’t matter how many followers I have. The Lord doesn’t want me to reach the world. He wants me to be His true disciple and minister as He did — one person at a time. Out in the dark world, my small candle is but a speck of light, but here in my home, it can light up an entire room. I know I have found my purpose.
Was it pure coincidence then, or divine orchestration, that I was given the opportunity to review Elder David A. Bednar’s new book, One by One, shortly after these two special, life-changing experiences? I will answer with a quote from Elder Bednar that is repeated again and again in his book:
“I believe that in the work of the Lord there is no such thing as a coincidence. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”
This book was the tenderest of mercies from a loving Father in Heaven to me. In its pages, I have been instructed in the ways of ministering as the Savior did, one by one. It’s a collection of personal experiences and stories from His own life and other church leaders that show the supreme importance of each individual to our Heavenly Father, for He goes to great lengths to bless each of His children in small ways and sometimes miraculous events.
Elder Bednar includes passages from the life of our Master in reaching out to people one person at a time, in the smallest and most personal ways. As I prayed to read with the eyes of the Spirit, these stories came alive for me in unexpected ways, and I came to more fully understand a quiet pattern that makes the greatest difference.
When I closed the book with tears filling my eyes, I didn’t want it to end. But Elder Bednar’s words will long echo in my heart and guide my discipleship in the most humbling of ways. May I end with a clarion call to join the ranks of our Lord in ministering one by one:
“A book about the Savior’s spiritual pattern of ministering one by one ultimately can never be completed. Such a book has no final summary or concluding chapter. Rather, it should contain a never-ending series of episodes and experiences focusing upon individuals…
“Each of us as a disciple of the Lord still has many additional chapters to write in our own personal book of experiences with the principle of one by one. As we consistently seek for eyes to see and ears to hear, we can discern and detect the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives–as we are blessed both to receive them and to act as instruments in the hands of the Savior to deliver them to other people.”
-Elder David A. Bednar
May it ever be so.