I met another LDS member who's stationed at Bagram Air Base. He's been forwarding me messages from their LDS Group Leader. I especially enjoyed this one and since I couldn't have said it any better myself decided to forward his message to you all.
A Season of Giving
Bagram Air Base LDS Group Leader
As I get older time seems to move more quickly, especially during the Christmas season. I remember as a kid the agony of anticipation waiting from Thanksgiving to Christmas day. Now there is a longing to make the spirit of the season last as long as possible. People are more courteous, happier, more giving and forgiving. The saddest part of the Christmas season can be that just when you really begin to feel its spirit of the holiday, it is past for another year.
While at home last week my wife and I were discussing what meaningful gifts we could give for Christmas this year. Again this year I look and see that through the blessings of Heavenly Father there are few wants and needs in this life God has not blessed me and my family with in his due time, especially during this year of deployment. My wife felt similarly and our thoughts were turned to what we could give our Heavenly Father this Christmas in return for His grace in blessing us so freely. As we read in the scriptures this can be a difficult task. Consider the words of King Benjamin.
“I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another--I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another--I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you. (Mosiah 2:20-22)
We see it is hard to give any gift to our Heavenly Father without immediately being blessed for it. Furthermore, most the gifts we can give Him were already His, gifts which we have been blessed with from the Father to begin with. I am reminded of the prophetic words of Elder Neil A. Maxwell when he stated, the only gift we can truly give to God is the only thing we truly possess, our will.
We can believe in the plan of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can gain a testimony of these things. But this testimony is no gift to God if we allow it to lay dormant. Our true measure of devotion and love to God is what we do with that belief and knowledge. James reminds us that even the devils believe in God, and tremble, but what does it profit them or the Father. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2: 17-19)
While we may fall at times and prove unprofitable servants, there is no need for discouragement. That was the mission of the babe from Bethlehem. This Christmas away from home, and many of the secular distractions of the holiday season, can be a precious time where we can focus and remember the only gift we can truly give God, the choice of what we will do with the time He has given us. As our thoughts are turned to the birth of the Savior and his unsurpassable gift to mankind, we remember His simple words on what we can give Him and the Father to show our devotion and love. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)