Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Bread of Life

From Elder Paul Freeman, dated February 13, 2008

Dear Family,

First, I just want everyone to know how much I love our family. I had never expected it would be my first thought to come to mind when writing an email home. Usually, I read through all the emails I've gotten for the week and hit the compose mail button and stare at the screen for at least 10 minutes. But, for some reason or another this week is special. I feel it more than ever that everything comes together for a specific reason. Even the things that seem hard to swallow or even trials that seem insurmountable. It seems we are finding new dimensions of challenges in our lives as individuals and as a family.

Dallas, you made a wonderful reference to the Prophet Joseph Smith in your last email. That's one of my favorite things to talk about. Sometimes we fail to make the connection between the way God has worked in the past and the way He is working now. Yes, I must have taken Hyrum and Samuel Smith a great deal of humility and courage to accept what they heard. But, think what a great deal more they developed after all the trials they went through. Joseph himself heard the comforting counsel of the Lord who told him that even if he had to face hell itself, that it would be for his good.

Elder Holland always says salvation is not a cheap experience, and that the road to salvation leads through Gethsemane. But, because of Him who has already descended below all things, we are required not so much as a taste of the cup that He drank. The gospel is a wonderful thing. Not only do I have the privilege of teaching it every day, I can step back and hear how it blesses the life of those who I love more than anything else in this world. It is a privilege not to have to be stuck in the middle of it, because that just makes things confusing.

I have great hope in knowing one thing. Ever since I can remember, my entire family has remained faithful to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We haven't been perfect by any means, but we have grown as individuals and as a family and remained faithful to the covenants we have made with our Heavenly Father.

Right now, we are teaching about 5 different families who are unmarried. It's been a challenge, and I'm having a hard time figuring out what these people need in order to take the steps toward committing to their spouse and ultimately committing to the Savior. My studies have led to a better understanding of laws and ordinances and justice and mercy, and other wonderful principles of the gospel. I've come to the conclusion that they are afraid that making the commitment will make them vulnerable to future heartache and frustration. But, that isn't the purpose behind this commandment. The purpose to any and all commandments are for our protection and blessing.

They aren't fences to restrict our agency. They are guide-rails to prevent disaster. As a family who has been faithful to our covenants, these guide-rails have yet to fail us, and I can't help but to think that they never will. That's the purpose of Heavenly Fathers plan. We don't just come to save ourselves. Our fates are inseparably connected, and for that I am grateful.

I'll use a metaphor to sum everything up. When I was young, my mother and father taught me everything I need to know to be self sufficient. Just like the old saying goes, "if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for life." Well, I don't remember anything about fishing. but, I do remember making homemade bread. I'll never forget how either. And every time I make that bread I can't help but think about my loving parents and brothers who helped me become what I am today. I can now share this wonderful gift to those I serve. I hope they like it, because it represent everything the gospel has done for our family. It also represents the sacrifice of our Savior. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Thank you all for everything, and remember how much I love you.

Elder Freeman