A few weeks ago, I said, "I guess we ought to follow the bishop's advice and have a family night about setting goals." Someone was heard to say, "Daddy's talking about himself in third person again." We had that family night on January 4.
I was looking through the new Gospel Principles manual, searching for a topic to base my goal on. It seemed like less than a minute, and I knew what I had to do: I needed to focus on faith this year.
During the last four years, since I was called as bishop, my faith has been tried more than during any other time in my life. Some of those trials are fairly obvious, I know. Most of you have probably noticed that we only have one car. We live in a rental home. Compared to the past, I have never had as much trouble with my employment as I have had since 2006. Nevertheless, these last four years have been the most productive years work-wise of my entire career. But though I keep increasing my efforts, even though I work all hours of the day and night, plying my trade of 26 years, the tide is still out.
Hence my goal.
"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." —Job 13:15
I still believe Malachi 3:18–20 with all my heart. I believe all of God's promises to the faithful, and I strive to be worthy of those blessings. And where I am weak, I plead for His grace. With all the energy of my heart, I strive to do all that God has asked me to do, to repent daily, and to offer Him a broken heart. The tide continues to go out, and parts of me are strewn on the shoals that have been exposed by retreating waters.
Yet, I feel closer to God than I have ever felt (even when I was on my mission), and I have never felt closer to my wife and our children. Am I not blessed in the most important ways? Yes, and I would not trade the riches of my life today for all the wealth the world had to offer.
It has been a very interesting trial, to say the least. Through it, I have discovered that I don't fully understand faith. But I know more about it than I used to know. And I am determined to learn more about it, all that I can. Part of my goal is to read and study every verse in the scriptures that contains the word faith (there are 253 occurrences) and to analyze and categorize all those passages.
Recently, I asked our wonderful stake president, "Don't you think this ward deserves a bishop who has his own car and his own cell phone?" He replied, "Is that in the handbook? Is it a requirement that a bishop have a car and a cell phone to serve?" I had to say no. He said, "Well, when you find that in the handbook, let me know."
I have not found it. I will continue to serve. I am at the edge of the water, far from the shore I once knew, but I can see the lighthouse in the distance. The lamp is burning bright and strong.