This past year has been a challenge for me. It was filled with unforeseen health challenges. There were times when, if events had gone differently, I might not have been granted the privilege of seeing yet another year here on this earth.
I learned to cherish health as a great blessing. Although I am no longer facing life-threatening health challenges, I still have my battles, mostly with peripheral neuropathy and psoriatic arthritis. These challenges have made mobility difficult at times. I am on medication to treat both of these conditions. It is my hope that in time, the medications will help bring these conditions under control. But for now, I have some relatively good days, and then again some days in which I have a hard time getting around.
The decisions of life and death are in the Lord's hands. If it were his will, I could have easily been a Missionary in the Spirit World right now. However, I believe that my being here indicates that it is His will that I yet remain upon this earth. I still have a work to do here: I have a wife and two children to support and take care of. I still need to see my children through to adulthood, and get them on their own. I will have opportunities come to me to serve in the kingdom of God on earth as well. We never know how the Lord may choose to use us to influence others for good. And in the process of serving Him, our souls will be enlarged as well.
Another reason that I am still here is that I still have a lot of work to do on becoming more Christlike. I know I have much yet to do in this regard. Having more time here on earth gives me the chance to improve myself, to overcome my weaknesses, and try to become more like the Savior.
The Prophet Alma said:
And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God. (Alma 42:4)According to this, I am on probation, with the Lord being my parole officer. I have to check in with Him each week and report my progress, as I partake of the Sacrament. It is up to Him to decide when my probation is over. For now, I will continue to walk in the path upon which He has marked the way.
So, now that God has granted each of us the privilege of another year on earth, how are we going to use it?
I would like to issue a challenge to myself and to each of you:
- Choose one thing that you are doing wrong now, and stop doing it.
- Choose one thing that you are not doing right now, that you should be doing.
If you take it one step at a time, real progress can be made. At the end of this year, you will be able to see the changes for good in this life. You will have good things to report to your parole officer.
The Lord is pleased when we desire to repent, and change, and follow his will. He will bless you in your righteous efforts, and will help you to achieve your goals. You are precious to Him, and he wants for you to return to his presence, and live with him one day.
I hope your New Year goes well. -- And I'm glad that you are still here too!