PASTOR COLUMN - Change offers growth in God

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Quite a few years ago, as I left home to serve a church mission in Japan, I was facing more changes in a shorter space of time than I had ever experienced up to that point in my life.

I was leaving home on my own for the first time, at least for an extended duration. I was going to fly on a large airplane for the first time, across the ocean to a foreign country, with a different language, culture, food - the list goes on.

I was a small-town Idaho kid, and my first area of service upon arrival was in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. At times, it all seemed overwhelming. Yet looking back, that was a wonderful period in my lifethat provided so many opportunities for learning and growth.

We all like the reassurance of familiar surroundings, activities, and routines - our comfort zones. Yet we know that one of the primary purposes of our life here on this earth is to learn and grow, to develop faith in God as we face challenges and trials.

We usually only experience active learning and growth when something changes in our lives. We only develop faith when we must rely on our Heavenly Father to help us with challenges that seem overwhelming and impossible for us to face with only our own strength.

Seeking to avoid the experiences that change brings has the opposite effect. As is says in Psalms 55:19 "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God."

Looking at change from a different perspective, another word for change is also "conversion." A prophet from the Book of Mormon named Alma talks about the "mighty change of heart" that each of us must experience as we seek to come unto Christ. Also in the Book of Mormon, speaking of a group of people who were converted to believe in Christ, a prophet named Samual said that "… faith and repentence bringeth a change of heart unto them" (Helaman 15:7).

Often, it is the external changes in our lives that provide opportunities for the internal changes in our hearts that convert us to the gospel of Jesus Christ, that help us develop faith in Him, that help us learn and grow into the people we are destined, even foreordained, to become. Rather than fear and resist such changes, let us embrace them.

Bishop Sean Milligan serves in the Dayton Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should telephone Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312 or email her at catherinehicks@wwub.com

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