Today I'm grateful for a lifetime of preparation. As I mentioned in my post yesterday I was a bit of a bonehead and forgot that I was arranging to get speakers for sacrament meeting this month. Due to the extremely late nature of the dawning of that realization this week I made the decision that I should bear the responsibility of my idiocy and I should be the one to give a talk.
I had very little time to prepare much of anything between realizing that I needed to prepare and the actual time I needed to deliver the talk. I was really only able to think about what I was going to talk about but not really write anything down or do any extensive research or preparation. I was essentially flying by the seat of my pants.
This morning while in our normal bishopric meeting I did a very quick preparation and decided that I was going to talk about agency and how it affects us as we strive to gain knowledge. I was using as my foundation the lesson for the youth Sunday school curricula "Come Follow Me". The February topic is "The plan of salvation" and one of the lessons is "What is the role of agency in learning the gospel?" There is a wonderful talk by Elder Bednar linked in that lesson that speaks about using our agency in order to learn about the gospel. It is a topic that has absorbed my attention and thought process for a few years now and I feel that I am only just starting to understand the subject.
I began my talk as I had intended, but as I spoke I realized that I wasn't really talking about agency, what I was talking about was preparation. I was demonstrating preparation. Yes, I had made an error in forgetting to fulfill an obligation, but I have spent a lifetime studying the gospel. I've spent a lifetime learning and studying the gospel. I've spent years serving in the church learning how to interact with the gospel. I've been a parent now for 12 years and have started learning how to talk to and teach my children. All of that preparation gave me the strength, knowledge and ability to get up in front of a congregation of worshipers and to deliver a talk at the last minute. All that time spent serving gave me the ability to recognize the promptings of the spirit and to share a message that was meaningful to me and (I hope) meaningful to someone else.
In all honesty, whether or not it helped anyone else is actually not as meaningful to me as what I learned myself from the experience. Sometimes we continue to do what we do in the church and do it almost out of habit without ever really seeing or feeling the results of our labors. To be sure there are moments where we feel that surge of the spirit or we recognize the immediate or necessary help we have been able to give to another...but we rarely see the change in ourselves. Today I was taught by the spirit that all that learning and preparation of a lifetime can help me in a moment of need and can still teach me even when I don't think I have anything to offer. Today I learned that sometimes, even when you make pretty stupid mistakes and force yourself into a corner, the Lord is still there to support you.
Provided you've put in the effort beforehand.