The Power of The One, The Atonement, and The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ: The Two Greatest Blessings I Have Ever Been Given
By Ken K. Gourdin
I’m reminded of the starfish story, the recounting of a conversation between a young man and an older counterpart who is walking along the beach gently tossing starfish back into the sea from where they have washed up on shore. The young man asks him what he’s doing, and he replies that he’s saving the starfish, which otherwise will be trapped on the shore as the tide recedes and, thus, will die. The young man ridicules the old man’s efforts, pointing out that there are miles of coastline and thousands of starfish and asking him, “How can you possibly make any difference?” Picking up another starfish and tossing it into the sea, the old man says, “I made a difference to that one.”
Likewise, we never know to whom we might – by some small, unnoticed, seemingly-insignificant act – make a great difference. In the book It Is Better to Look Up: Life Experiences Shared from the Pulpit (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2014), Elder Christopher Waddell of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tells the experience of Elder Javier Misiego from Spain, who was called to serve a mission in Arizona:
A few years ago, Elder Javier Misiego, from Madrid, Spain, was serving a full-time mission in Arizona. At that time, his mission call to the United States appeared somewhat unusual, as most young men from Spain were being called to serve in their own country.
At the conclusion of a stake1 fireside2, where he and his companion had been invited to participate, Elder Misiego was approached by a less-active member of the Church who had been brought by by a friend. It was the first time the man had been inside a chapel in years. Elder Misiego was asked if he might know a José Misiego in Madrid. When Elder Misiego responded that his father’s name was José Misiego, the man excitedly asked a few more questions to confirm that this was the José Misiego. When it was determined that they were speaking about the same man, this less-active member began to weep. “Your father was the only person I baptized during my entire mission,” he explained and described how his mission had been, in his mind, a failure. He attributed his years of inactivity to some feelings of inadequacy and concern, believing that he had somehow let the Lord down.
Elder Misiego then described what this supposed failure of a missionary meant to his family. He told him that his father, baptized as a young single adult, had married in the temple, that Elder Misiego was the fourth of six children, that all three boys and a sister had served full-time missions, that all were active in the Church, and that all who were married had been sealed in the temple.
The less-active returned missionary began to sob. Through his efforts, he now learned, scores of lives had been blessed, and the Lord had sent an elder from Madrid, Spain, all the way to a fireside in Arizona to let him know he had not been a failure. The Lord knows where he wants each missionary to serve.
Like the man who made a difference – one starfish at a time – the missionary who baptized José Misiego realized the promise of the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants, in Section 18:
10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; . . .
13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! . . .
15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
For more of my thoughts along these lines, please see here, last accessed December 10, 2014: https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/gods-army-and-my-own-mission/. As Alma tells his son, Helaman, in the Book of Mormon, in Alma 37:6, “[B]ehold I say unto you, that by small and simple things”—such as a single baptism—“are great things brought to pass”—such as generations then unborn being blessed.
In this season of giving, and with no disrespect to my brothers and sisters who follow different faith traditions (see https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/toward-interreligious-oneness/), without question, I must say that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, along with His Atonement, is the greatest gift I ever have been given. It truly is a pearl of great price (see Matthew 13:46).
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a “stake” is a group of wards (congregations) covering a specific geographical area which is presided over by a stake president, who is assisted by two men known as “counselors.” It is similar to a diocese.
A “fireside” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a meeting, usually held in the evening, which often is devoted to a single theme or to a featured speaker. It is not uncommon for high-profile members of the Church of Jesus Christ (such as well-known Mormon athletes or performers) to be the featured speaker or performer at such an event.