Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's be legends.

This week all the new missionaries came into Lyon and we got to do some training with them, then go eat dinner. Over dinner, missionaries starting recounting legends of other missionaries who have gone before--of their goodness and bravery and courage. Of missionaries who could speak every language fluently, and who never stopped teaching, and would jump out of bed at 6:30 with a huge smile on their face to do their morning exercises. They told of other missionaries who had turned down international championships and transcontinental promotions and all sorts of other worldly acclaim to serve missions. We were all so breathtaken by these tales, we just sat there in silence, Sister Hutchins and I, with our mouths gaping open. And then one of the new missionaries said, "Well, let's do it! Let's be legends!" So here's to five more weeks of aiming for legendhood.

We're in the middle of Ramadan out here. We live in a quarter with lots of Algerians and Tunisians, so many many of the people we come across are fasting. Jesus fasted for a long time too. I was reading in Mark 1 and it's incredible to me how the Savior is off in the wilderness fasting, and then BAM he comes out and he's doing miracles right and left and teaching in the synagogues and declaring bold things and people are coming to him for healing...and it's like...what the...where did that power suddenly come from?? And I think a lot of it was from fasting. Jesus the carpenter became Jesus the Christ during those 40 days in the wilderness. He submitted so fully and repeatedly his body to his spirit and to the will of the Father that when he came out of the wilderness he was someone capable of doing any miracle, such was his spiritual strength of character. He had became such a personage of light and goodness that he could walk up to some random fishermen and say, "Follow me," and they would do it. What were they thinking? He must have had such strong goodness emanating from him that they would say, "I don't know who that is or why he wants us to follow him, but I trust him and want to do whatever it is he wants me to do." That is power. Go read Mark 1 and see. 

And then in Mark 9, a father brings his possessed son to Christ and so humbly says, "I brought him to your disciples but they couldn't heal him." I love in verse 21 that Christ asks how long the child has been tormented by this devil, as if to find out what kind of a devil he's dealing with. And then he heals the boy, and later the disciples ask, "Hey why couldn't we heal him?" and Christ explains that that kind of devil doesn't go out except for lots of prayers and fasting. He had more power to heal because of how he had fasted and prayed. Fasting adds light and truth and power and intelligence onto our characters. It sanctifies us. It lets angels come and minister to us. If you've read The Great Divorce, I think fasting is the fastest way to make us a little more solid, a little more capable of dwelling in a celestial realm. VOila. I love fasting.

Here's a list of blessings that Jesus (via Isaiah) promises us through fasting. Go through this slow, because every one of these promises has universes of beauty inside of it.

Is not this the fast? 
to loose the bands of wickedness,
to undo the heavy burdens, 
and to let the oppressed go free,
and that ye break every yoke?

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry,
and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning,
and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee; 
the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.

Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; 
thou shalt cry, 
and he shall say, 
Here I am. 

Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, 
and thy darkness be as the noonday:

And the Lord shall guide thee continually,  
and satisfy thy soul in drought.

And thou shalt be like a watered garden, 
and like a spring of water, 
whose waters fail not.

And they shall build the old waste places: 
Thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, 
the restorer of paths to dwell in.

If thou turn away thy foot from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; 
not doing thine own ways, 
nor finding thine own pleasure, 
nor speaking thine own words,
then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; 

And I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, 
and feed thee 
with the heritage of Jacob thy father.

(Isaiah 58)

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