Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Approaching Zion"

Last night I attended the Friday night meeting of Stake Conference for Sannah's stake.  I was very touched.  Of course, the entire meeting was fantastic, and the talks by the skate patriarch and two of the members of the skate presidency were exceptional, but one thing in particular touched me.  The members of the Institute choir were singing the closing song, and as I was sitting there, feeling the Spirit as I listened to their voices, I realized I had never lived in a place with so many good people.  Never before have I had the fortune of living in a place where hundreds of college students (there were some four hundred+ students there) would give up their Friday night to come to an hour and a half church meeting.  And then I thought of all the students in the choir who not only gave up their Friday night, but also hours of their time previously in practicing for the beautiful hymns they sang.

I grew up in small town Missouri, where a majority of the students in my high school considered drinking and partying the most enjoyable thing to do.  I mean, sure there were good people there.  There are good people everywhere.  But never have I seen it to the extent that I see it here in Logan, UT.  Back home, there was always one guy in my grade who was consistently well-behaved.  He never swore, he never drank, he didn't participate in crude discussions, he was never ashamed of his love for God and Jesus Christ... and you know what, he was made fun of a lot.  You know why?  He was a Mormon. He was the one active Latter-day Saint in my school, and he was made fun of for it.  How silly to make fun of a man for being a member of a religion that works.  Look what growing up in that religion did for him.  Like I said, he was the most consistently good and admirable man in my grade.  Whether I knew it or not, his behavior had an effect on me.

Then fast forward to when I was going to college in Kansas City.  I had a hard time finding anyone who even believed in God, period, let alone who tried to live their lives according to His will.  And I certainly wasn't perfect myself.

Then, a miracle.  After much study, I found myself with a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true.  And you know what happened?  I started attending a family ward in Kansas City and all of a sudden I was surrounded by good, hard-working, intelligent people with a genuine love for God I had never before experienced.  It was wonderful.  I have never felt more inspired by another group of people.

And now I am living in beautiful Logan, and am experiencing a nearly constant state of euphoria as I live among thousands of students who take their Heavenly Father at least seriously enough to go to church weekly and give up Friday nights for stake conferences.  At least.  Most of them are heavily involved in callings, attend the temple, and live their religion as well as they can, in addition to the numerous people I meet daily who have spent two years of their lives on a mission for the Lord.  I have never experienced living in a place where so many people love the Lord, and you can see it in the way they conduct their lives and even in their countenances.  Are there a lot of Latter-day Saints who don't take their religion seriously?  Of course, but that's true of every religion.  For the most part, living among the Latter-day Saints is the closest to experiencing Zion I have ever felt.  As one who has not been a Latter-day Saint for very long, I feel I can brag on my brothers and sisters in this Church.  I am proud to be one of them, and I hope to be as strong as many of the members I see on a daily basis.  It is a constant inspiration and motivation to be a better person when I am surrounded by such good people.  Are we perfect? No.  Do we have a long way to go before we truly reach a state of Zion?  Absolutely.  But nevertheless, as I've said, I have never felt such a genuine love for God in so great numbers among any other group of people.  It is inspiring and beautiful, and I can never be grateful enough to my Heavenly Father for placing me among the ranks of so great a people.  God bless them.

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