Where Love Is, There God Is Also- Elder Winegar

Sunday, July 9, 2023


To use Elder Pugsley, Bishop Bickmore, and President Whitworths' word, this week has been simply marvelous. What a fantastic work to be a part of. I have found great meaning in both trial and triumph this week.

I never cease marveling at the growth that I continue to undergo even in the final moments of missionary service. As a friend of mine recently put it, "I know that my [growth] has been a result of the Lord’s mercy on me and His granting me the experiences I’ve had." I feel like Ammon who said, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12). I could not have made myself into a fraction of the man I am today, but in His mercy, The Savior has truly made me into a new man. A man more like He is. I am still far from perfect, but I have found unmatched joy as I have begun fulfilling my purpose as a son of God by becoming more like my Redeemer, Jesus Christ and loving others in His way. Oh how I love Him. 

There are two mortal instances in which the veil between this world and our heavenly home is particularly thin. These universal experiences are birth and death. I was blessed to have beautiful experiences with both this past week. 

I virtually attended a funeral service for one of the most noble, compassionate, and Christlike men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. In one letter I received from him, he signed his name as, "The Mike Whipple," an apt description for my well-known Uncle. His passing has left a painful hole in the lives of all who knew him, but his legacy and impact will follow him through the eternities. We miss you Mike. We love you.

It was very painful to suffer the loss of such a good man. But equally painful, was to be apart from those I love in such a trying time. To see their sorrow and be kept by circumstance from providing love and consolation. And yet in spite of the many tears I've shed, I have faith that the Savior indeed mourns with we who are mourning and will comfort those of us who stand in need of comfort. 

Precisely in this hour of grief, my companion and I were called upon to administer the Priesthood. Over the phone, a single mother informed us that her brand new baby boy was in need of a blessing. Following the service we hurried to the hospital and found a healthy, but tiny, 4 pound baby awaiting us. 
After spending some time with the mother, we laid hands—or rather fingers—upon the head of this beautiful newborn child. 

In two short hours, I had commemorated the life of a man who had now returned to the presence of The Creator and given a priesthood blessing to one who had just descended from His presence to experience life for the first time. 

When my companion and I exited the hospital following these two experiences, the veil was so thin we felt as though the Savior was walking with us. We felt the spirits of the righteous round about us, crowding the halls as we departed. Their presence is a feeling I will not soon forget.

I testify that, like birth, death is just another step in our journey home and in our quest to become eternal beings. What an amazing plan God has given us to come and enjoy the vibrancy of mortality. To learn and grow. And then take the joy we've discovered and live with it forever.

The final experience I will share is about my new friend Zack. He recently met a member of our ward on the street (a miracle in and of itself) who invited him to worship with us on Sunday. Zack, who had been looking for a church, gladly accepted the invitation to attend a sacrament meeting, where we met him for the first time. As we got to know him, his burning desire to have a relationship with God and become a better man were striking. We began to explain that we were called as missionaries to help him find the very things he was searching for. Before we could even finish he told us he would love to hear what we had to say. We asked him when he would like to meet up and he asked if we could meet at the conclusion of the service. Delighted, we agreed.

By the end of our first meeting with Zack, we had discovered that his commitment was so sincere, he would be willing to do anything to change his life. And so, we invited him to prepare to make covenants with God at baptism and he wholeheartedly accepted. Since then, we have continued to meet with him, and while he still has questions, his commitment is unwavering. My admiration and love for him is immense already and continues to grow with each interaction I have with him. 

I have learned through the love I've developed for Zack, and the love I've developed for hundreds of others as a missionary, that to love another person creates the truest and deepest joy that we can experience in this life. 

King Benjamin admonished, "that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For…if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness" (Mosiah 2:41). Consider these promises in the context of the Saviors' two great commandments, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:37-40).

Furthermore we're taught, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). Thus we see that by loving our neighbor, we fulfill both great commandments and qualify ourselves to inherit that blessed and happy state described by the prophets. Because all commandments can be circumscribed into these two greatest, it becomes necessary that all joy is somehow generated by love. What a powerful truth! By loving others, we create and fill our cosmos with more joy!

As we understand this great truth, we also come to understand our highest purpose in life, which is this: to become like God by learning to love others in His way, the perfect way. What does this entail? John said, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). God our Eternal Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us what pure love, celestial love, really looks like.

So how did Christ love? We learn from the scriptures that, "Charity is the pure love of Christ," and that, "charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (Moroni 7:45-47). As we strive in our own imperfect way to emulate the attributes of Jesus Christ, we will be begin to find ourselves possed of Charity. Then, and only then, will we be capable of loving in God's way. 

It is my fervent prayer that each of us will earnestly seek Charity. I pray that we would follow Christ's example by choosing to forgive. By choosing to withhold judgement. By choosing to be kind. By choosing to be merciful. And by always choosing love. It is my promise that as we do so, the joy we feel from day to day will grow deeper than it ever has before.

Sending my love to you,

Elder Winegar


Good Riddance—Greenday
Big Life—Bleachers
I Miss Those Days—Bleachers

Post a Comment