Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Jericho Road

"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying,
Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

"He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

"And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy

heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all

thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

"And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

"But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

"And Jesus answering said, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to

Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment,

and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

"And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he

saw him, he passed by on the other side.

"And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on

him, and passed by on the other side.

"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when

he saw him, he had compassion on him,

"And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine,

and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care

of him.

"And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave

them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever

thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

"Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that

fell among the thieves?

"And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him,

Go, and do thou likewise." (Luke 10:25-37.)

The Samaritan, traveling the road to Jericho, found himself in quite a situation. He was not his friend, in fact he was his enemy. It was not convenient to help him, in fact it was inconvenient. His care he required would not be cheap, in fact it would be costly and require sacrifice. Despite all this, he did not hesitate, he didn't question and he didn't wait. He immediately bound up his wounds and showed him compassion.

I've been thinking about all the "Good Samaritans" in my life. There have been so many I couldn't even begin to count. My incredible parents, family members, church leaders, bishops, stake presidents, close friends, MISSION PRESIDENT (holy cow, that man is a saint), companions....

There is one companion in particular I'd like to talk about today.

Now. Sister May traveled a long, long way to get here and be my Good Samaritan. She did not grow up in the church. In fact, she grew up having zero good feelings towards the LDS church and it's members. She was raised by her father and her step mom who were good people but had nothing much to do with religion. It wasn't until her biological mother joined the church after getting married to a very active member, that she was willing to hear anything about it. She still didn't like it much, but she could at least tolerate it. A short time later, her best friend (who is a member of the church) expressed to her his desire to serve a full time mission. Leaving for two years, to do what? Go around and knock on people's doors and teach about religion? The idea of him taking off was frightening, strange and somehow fascinating to her. She just couldn't shake the feeling she had when he spoke about this deep desire to serve The Lord. After discussing the church more and more with him and her mom she decided to have the missionaries over. They taught her and a few short weeks later she was baptized.

She had been a member for only a year when the announcement was made saying that sister missionaries could leave at age 19. She responded to the call, and found her self entering the mission field only a year and half after joining the church. It was tough to be a missionary and still feel so "new". She didn't recognize most of the doctrinal terms being used and she questioned whether she would actually be able to keep up in the mission field.... when everyone seemed to already "know it all". But she squared her shoulders and put a smile on and got to work anyway.

Fast forward a year, and that's when she found me.
Several months later... I was "beaten and bruised" pretty bad. I had allowed Satan to get a hold of my heart and I truly believed I was a failure. She saw me "laying there in the middle of the road" and she "cleaned my cuts", "dusted me off" and encouraged me to get back on track. She never let me say "I can't". During my time with her as my companion I laughed everyday. I remembered what it was like to just be myself. She reminded me that it was not my job to worry about things I couldn't control. After she got me all stitched up, she went on her way... like all Good Samaritans do. I was so sad to see her go. But I got exactly what I wished for. I always said "I wish EVERYONE got to be companions with Sister May!"... And she became a Sister Training Leader. SO, she goes on exchanges with about half the sisters in the mission. I know I am just one of the down trodden souls she has lifted along her Jericho Road. Sister May taught me a very important lesson. And that is simply that by taking even just one step in the dark you just might end up changing the world. I am so grateful she decided to join the church regardless of how unsupportive many family members and friends were of the decision. I am so grateful she decided to serve a mission even though she felt like she lacked experience. By looking passed her fear, she found me... she stopped to help me out. And I gained a best friend! 
I have been cared for and picked up by so many Good Samaritans along the my Jericho Road. The Lord always places people in my path when I need them. And I often wonder if they realize the importance and the significance of their actions. I think in a way we're born aware of our need to help each other. I think we're born desiring to SAVE and PROTECT. Deep inside the human soul is a longing to be identified with and involved in something really important. There comes a time in our lives when we are spiritually prepared and ready to be lifted from comfortable and sometimes mundane activities and to make a major decision to respond to a call... a call that is sometimes difficult, a call that is inconvenient, a call that may require sacrifice. The call to arms, to reach out. A call that if we will but accept, we will illuminate our own souls. And we INSPIRE others to do the same.