My first formative years were spent being raised by my grandmother, a convert to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the early 1950s. Several missionary-minded elders traveled through the area in southeast Missouri where we lived and had a great influence, though short-lived, on many families there. Ours was one of those families that were able to remain tied to the church for the next seventy-plus years.
Being raised in the peculiar faith of the Reorganization meant that there were parts of my personal life that were in conflict with what I had been taught was right and proper. Being a pretty decent athlete, and playing most high school sports with all manner of friends, I found that there were activities that I found uncomfortable being around. It eventually was recognized by my friends that there were parts of their “celebrations” that I would not do and, eventually, they became accustomed to that. I found that I could have friends outside of the church without sacrificing my personal beliefs. That learning has been a strong support for me for many years.
As a teenager, I found what I have come to believe is the type of ministry the Lord designed me for – to be valiant in my testimony that Jesus is the Son of God and that He loves each of us so much He was willing to die for each one. I have had the very blessed opportunity to have traveled throughout this wonderful world, circling it several times to share my expression of that love. Some of the places have been very uncomfortable, both health and personal safety wise. Other have been times of glorious adventure and seeing sights most people will only dream of seeing. But what I have seen, first-hand and often, is the light of God’s eyes reflected in children, women, and men who have come to know that there is a greater God to worship than any that the world can and will ever offer them. The God they now know is the one true God who prepares a place for them so that they may be with Him. He is the one true God who has existed, does exist, and will continue to exist, long after mortal man finishes his time on this earth. Who better to place our faith and hope in than someone who has been and will eternally be there for us?
Age takes its toll on all of us, and I find that to be true for me as well. The battles which I once longed for, and looked forward to, are now mostly behind me. I now find quiet conversation to be more fruitful. Measured rightness in a world which demands unquestioned obedience brings sweeter peace. The Master’s counsel to “Come now, and let us reason together” should be the framework of each one of us as we testify of our witness of this divine being known as the Son of God. It is my great desire that my days on this earth will always be days where my voice and my testimony will recognize how much my Lord means to me and that I might quietly hear how much I might mean to Him.