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Thursday, December 1, 2011

MMM Sermons: "Finding Joy Through Loving Service"

by Saint Mark (bio)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call them "talks," but most (non)Christians call them sermons. This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine.

Watch or read the talk here.

This talk could be called, "Flecks of Gold." For me, this sermon was as impactful as Elder Bednar's "Tender Mercies of the Lord" talk. Elder M. Russell Ballard's perspective of finding joy in the small things, ie flecks of gold, has shifted my paradigm and helped me to find more joy in life's journey.

For example, some of the flecks of gold in my life are when my youngest son wakes up super early, climbs into my bed and cuddles up next to me. It used to be a little frustrating to be woken up at 5 am or 6 am every morning. But, now I see this experience as a fleck of gold that I cherish because I know that this little 4 year-old is going to be 14, then 24, and so forth, and will never again feel like the first thing he wants to do when he awakes is to snuggle with his daddy.

Another example, when I pick up my sons from Primary or school or if I've been at work all day and then come home, my sons will scream "Daddy!" and run full throttle at me burying their little bodies into the hollow of my chest and wrap their arms tight around me. These moments are now flecks of gold to me because I know that not far down the line they will be indifferent to my coming home or my picking them up from school or they may be too self-conscious to hug their father in public.

This is the story of the "Flecks of Gold":
The demands of everyday life—education, jobs, raising children, Church administration and callings, worldly activities, and even the pain and sorrow of unexpected illness and tragedy—can wear us down. How can we free ourselves from this tangled web of challenges and uncertainties to find peace of mind and happiness?

Oftentimes we are like the young merchant from Boston, who in 1849, as the story goes, was caught up in the fervor of the California gold rush. He sold all of his possessions to seek his fortune in the California rivers, which he was told were filled with gold nuggets so big that one could hardly carry them.

Day after endless day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit until one day an old, experienced prospector said to him, “That’s quite a pile of rocks you are getting there, my boy.”

The young man replied, “There’s no gold here. I’m going back home.”

Walking over to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, “Oh, there is gold all right. You just have to know where to find it.” He picked two rocks up in his hands and crashed them together. One of the rocks split open, revealing several flecks of gold sparkling in the sunlight.

Noticing a bulging leather pouch fastened to the prospector’s waist, the young man said, “I’m looking for nuggets like the ones in your pouch, not just tiny flecks.”

The old prospector extended his pouch toward the young man, who looked inside, expecting to see several large nuggets. He was stunned to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of flecks of gold.

The old prospector said, “Son, it seems to me you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’re missing filling your pouch with these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”
Yes, even the repeated spillage of milk, juice or water by my youngest or the ever-lengthening process of putting my boys to bed are now my flecks of gold. I used to just look for the huge gold nuggets of perfect performance of responsibilities or chores or spiritual participation (family prayer, family scriptures study, family home evening, etc.) by my children to feel joy about my family. But, Elder Ballard's April 2011 General Conference talk helped me to widen my view and shift my perception to now find joy in the mundane, the simple, the small but now my pouch of joy is bulging and full. Now, my home is a "heaven on earth." Thanks, Elder Ballard.

What are the "flecks of gold" in your own lives?

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