Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Purpose of Life

Dear Family and friends,
The attached file is an old recording from the MTC that I meant to send a billion years ago, but never had the chance to connect it. It's a 50 second recording of a musical jam session of Praise to the Man with a Jamaican elder delivering a mad beatbox. It's not perfect, but it'll give you a little taste of how we missionaries relax ourselves from the weariness of the day.
This week has been as busy as ever. We've had several good experiences with teaching, and because summer just started we're finding that challenging teenage kids to play basketball with us is one of the most effective ways of 1) demonstrating that you're a real person and 2) thus opening ourselves a doorway to get their numbers and schedule them. There are a few that are interested in the gospel, and you wouldn't believe how much being yourself is a part of missionary work. When they see a guy walking around dressed up in a shirt and tie and a tag, the people here tend to either get scared or have no interest, or sometimes just laugh at you. But when you approach them excitedly, compliment them on something and invite them to play with you, they start to recognize you as a real person and open their heart to you. An investigator said to us this week, "You know, the missionaries before only tried to teach me stuff and ignored me otherwise, but you missionaries are special because you actually want to spend time with me and be my friend." Whoever said the gospel limited ANYONE from being themselves? I'd go as far as saying the gospel actually enables us to be ourselves -- even our best selves. I'm learning to make all of that count; to work in my personality with my work and it is really helping people not only like us but actually listen to us.
I have something I wish to share this week -- it's hard to just put everything into a bunch of random specific experiences. But every experience I have leads to a certain mindset and pattern of thinking. So I want to share the thoughts that my experiences have led me to this week.
Roddy, the lawyer guy, had a problem this week. When we taught him the Plan of Salvation, he didn't like the idea that this life was a time to prepare to meet God. He said, "Our purpose can;'t just be to prepare for the next life. If its all focused on the next life, our purpose on this earth doesn't seem to matter all that much. But I think our purpose here is enormous in capacity; that cant be it."
What is success and how do you achieve it? What greater knowledge surpasses knowing what things in this life not only matter here but have eternal, everlasting value? What greater success is there that surpasses knowing truth because God Himself gave it to you?
Of course our life here has enormous meaning. If our purpose was meaningless, why would God send us here? Obtaining a body is fulfilling an eternal purpose; it enables us to become literally as our Father in Heaven. As profound as that principle can and should be illustrated, I believer there is little truth that surpasses the principle of agency in depth, profvundity, or importance.
When everything is said and done, stripped naked, disected to the smallest molocule, made vulnerable in every sense of the word and pulled apart until theory, hypotheses, and doubt must needs become fact, there is a choice in every thought and every action and there is either a positive or negative outcome. Stagnancy in this life or the next simply DOES NOT EXIST. If you think your life is the same old boring thing every day, you are professing stagnancy and a life without change. But what you're really doing is habitually convincing yourself that nothing can or will change. You're teaching yourself that success and progression can't and won't happen, thus consistently hindering yourself from achieving either of them and therefore declining.
So there's a choice. Right and wrong exist. Good and evil exist. There is no story without a conflict, and every conflict stems from the question of right or wrong, good and evil -- even if the answer is unclear at the outset. As we carefully, prayerfully, and faithfully make choices even when the clouds are thick and the fog is unyielding, we are taught by experience what choices are best and what are worst.
When the outcome of our choices is positive, it usually if not always will have a positive effect on another person. The same is true with a negative outcome. Experiencing both of these effects is a blessing because it teaches us to grow. It is progression. It's all a part of this mortal, human experience.
So does this life have enormous, grand, beautiful, unfathomable meaning? Absolutely! Consider it a fact you were born for something magnificent. If everything were clear-cut and black and white, there would be no opposition, and we wouldn't need God. But we do. We absolutely do, because we don't always know where our choices will lead.
The fact that we have deep and often indescribable emotions in response to things that we cannot see is evidence that our purpose here is not merely to get ourselves born, live a trivial life, die and go to Heaven. There is no earthly palace that a common man can just saunter on into without some sort of proper identification. Is Heaven any different, if not more strict with it's prerequisites? Christ's comman of perfection was a goal He set for every man and woman. Mastery of any skill takes patience and focused effort in order to achieve. We are here to learn to be perfect, and we can only learn it by being obedient to the One who went before us, and that is Jesus Christ, our Master.
I know that He lives. I know that this Gospel is true. Make choices that will bless the lives of others, and you will fulfill a purpose of unfathomable and beautiful magnitude. May this week have you with God's blessings.
Elder Hazen

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