Of course, it’s hard to nail down something as “the most valuable” lesson learned on my mission when I learned so much. As I think back on what I’ve learned over the past two years, many things come to mind. First is scriptural knowledge that comes from reading, studying, and pondering. Then there comes learning by faith, which Elder David A. Bednar speaks of often.
Whenever we act on a gospel truth, we exercise our belief in that principle, and our faith grows as a result. Hence we “learn by faith” by learning of a surety that a gospel principle is true. For example, if someone lives the law oftithing, they will see the blessings that follow. They learn by faith that tithing is a true principle. As another simple example, someone can study a whole lifetime about the Atonement, but until they experience applying it to their lives, they don’t truly know what it does for them personally.
I like learning by faith more than by study. Generally, learning by faith sticks with someone a lot longer than learning by study because it lets them act rather than be acted upon. (2 Nephi 2)
The most valuable lesson I learned was something I didn’t consider a lesson. It was a change that took place in me rather than something I learned. You see, when you spend two years of your life immersed completely in the gospel of Jesus Christ, you change. Your behaviors and mannerisms change. The way you see things and the way you react to things is different. You love things pertaining to righteousness more. Your desire and capacity to love others increases.
This last Sunday, I reported to the stake high council, and one of the members asked me what I had learned. Though to be honest, I told him I hadn’t learned anything. Of course, I learned scriptures and facts about gospel topics, but how those things changed me was more important to me than what I learned.
To answer the question of what I learned, I told him that I learned the blessings of exact obedience. Not blind obedience, mind you. Rather, having faith that being obedient will bring forth miracles simply because you did what the Lord asked. It’s as simple as that. The Lord tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 that if we do what He says then He is bound to keep His end of the deal. The only thing we have to do is be obedient.
In addition to the benefits of obedience, if we “keep the rules,” Heavenly Father promises to forgive our sins, give us an increased measure of the Holy Ghost, and protect us from the fiery darts of the adversary. Those things are essential to real joy and satisfaction in the gospel. I could list off a thousand more reasons to be exactly obedient and a million more blessings that come from it, but I’d rather you “learn by faith” to discover them yourself!
So, what was the most valuable lesson I learned as a missionary? Be obedient! It’s worth it every time.