In the depths of summer are so many delights; the gardener, the fisherman, the hiker, the biker, the swimmer, the tennis player all are finding pleasure and renewal in the beauty of our corner of the world. Sometimes, if we permit, it even seems that a summer hour slows just a bit to allow us a full measure of the good things around us.
Our thoughts turn at such times to the greatness of God our heavenly father and his son Jesus Christ, who through their power and majesty created these things, and after its creation gave it to us as an inestimable gift. God is concerned both for the outward and the inward man and woman, our very soul. Thus, his gifts to us include great things in the spiritual as well the physical realm. The spiritual gifts include, peace, love and joy.
To some degree, having God’s gifts depends upon our willingness to receive them. We could for example, purposely avoid the delights of summer, eating canned fruit all year long. Jesus told several stories or parables about the generosity of God — how he wants to give us of his greatest gifts, but if we are not willing to receive, he does not force us.
It seems clear how to enjoy God’s gifts in the physical world, the beauties of his creations, but how do we put ourselves in the position to receive those precious spiritual ones? The savior
answered this when he said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” We come unto him by following him, by doing the things that he did. As taught in the sermon on the mount, this would include: being merciful, forgiving, meek in the sense of having the strength to seek God’s purposes above our own, prayerful, generous to the needy, and not standing in judgment of those around us.
In watching the Olympics, we are inspired by the strength, endurance and skill of the athletes and their back stories, which may be more largely heroic than the amazing end performance we watch. Many of the athletes have overcome huge obstacles through deep desire coupled with unwavering dedication. One advertisement reminds us that some athletes have not had dessert for many years. The Savior spoke to this deep level of desire for spiritual gifts, when he invited us to hunger and thirst after righteousness. When we have that deep desire to come unto him — the fountain of all righteousness — and the daily diligence to follow him, we are promised those deep spiritual gifts, peace and joy and love — that is better even than summer.
Charles W. Holland is the bishop of the State College 1st ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.