The final sprint. The last leg. The last 100 Meters. The Kick.
The last Transfer.
As an Elder serving in Korea, after the 2 months in the MTC you have about 16 tranfers, or 6-week increments of time where you could either change the area you serve or the companion you serve with. My event in Track was the mile, or the 1600 meter run, 16 times 100 meters. 16 transfers, 16 100's. Pretty neat comparison, don't you think? Each transfer is a milestone in and of itself, but I find it interesting that there are 16.
And now I'm in the final one.
The first of 6 weeks is already gone. It flew by faster than any other. We saw lots of miracles, including new investigators coming up to us and asking to meet and study the Book of Mormon, the start of the best missionary- ward mission leader relationship I've been a part of yet, and our first Member-present Lesson in Gangnam. Things are happening. Getting moving. Hastening.
Not the least of the miracles Elder Arredondo and I have seen are the personal ones. I feel personally like this transfer and the one before, the time I've been here in Gangnam, has been the culmination of my whole mission experience. All of the things I have learned, been taught, sort-of learned, or heard that I should be doing have been poured into action here. I am doing and feeling and being more than I ever have before. Changing.
I realized yesterday that I have been blessed with the ability to start, to get things moving. This gift has been manifest in my whole life in several ways, but especially here in Korea. However, this gift also came with a weakness that I myself wasn't able to put in to words until the Spirit helped me out yesterday. I have been fearing the finish. I was never a strong finisher in running races, nor have I gone above and beyond the mark of exact obedience to true diligence. I get content, satisfied with doing something, anything. With looking good, looking like I am working hard. Lots of pride, a lack of faith.
But our Father in Heaven knows what he has been doing with me for the past 20 years. And He knows what he's going to do with me for eternity. I haven't seen it until now, but looking back on my mission experience, God has placed me in exactly the situations I needed to be in, not to change the world and give myself a big head, but to be humbled, to become soft, malleable to the will of the Father, so that I can do what He wants me to do, say what He wants me to say, become what He wants me to become.
And I glory in it. I, like Ammon, know that I am nothing. As to my strength, I am weak. Therefore, I, too, will forever cease boasting of myself, stop trying to gratify pride, cover sin or mediocrity, or exercise unrighteous dominion over my brothers and sisters. For good. God want more than that for me, and for each and every one of you.
He truly does have a plan for each of us. He knows what will make us the most happy, and He will lead us there as long as we give him our obedience. That's the deciding factor in the quest of returning to God, becoming like Christ:
"Do I give this God-given agency back to Him, trusting Him unreservedly, by obeying instantly and fully every word of command He gives?"
He has blessed us with the Book of Mormon, the Bible, living prophets, spiritual revelation, given us all abundant direction. Now it's all up to us, do we follow, or not?
In the 1600 meter race, as with any other race, the finish is the deciding factor. Not only can you shave off final seconds for a better resulting time, but without the finish, there is no point to competing. If you don't finish the race, you surely will never improve your time, earn a medal, or even know how you can do better.
We've been counselled to "Begin with the End in Mind" (https://www.lds.org/church/
news/begin-missionary-work- with-the-end-in-mind-says- elder-nelson) by our leaders. From the start of our races, whether it be a mission, a career, a marriage, a life, we must know where we are headed for. We must be fixed on the end goal of reaching the finish line, where the Savior has crossed the tape and is cheering us on.
Keeping the End in Mind will help when trials come, when things get hard or boring. Those are our chances to show God just how determined we are to reach that goal.
When all is said and done, the Finish defines the entire race.
We are all in our last 100 meters. This life is just a little blip on the scale of eternity, and our eternal rewards depend on how well we finish this time, obeying and following Christ.
For me, this "mini-finish" of the mission has awakened me to a vision of my life, the more important race. I know now what to do, how to make decisions and receive God's instruction. I am incredibly grateful for the past 2 years, and the 18 years before that. It's like the stars all aligned perfectly and put me in all the right places for the right things to happen to me. Or maybe it's just God, my Heavenly Father, who loves and watches over me and every one of you and has wonderful things in store for all who show that they're ready to receive them.
Take the next step. There is no time to lose! We're in the moment. It's here, never to come again. Kick. Do. Endure. Become. Feel the Joy that comes.
This is my hope and testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I love you all and hope you have another nice week!
Elder Derek James Wilcox