Last night, I had a bit of a hard time sleeping, and for some reason I started thinking about Les Mis. I really don't know why. But as my mind ran through the lyrics, this line from the finale stood out to me: "To love another person is to see the face of God."
In church on Sunday, I was asked to bear a short testimony since it would be my last Sunday in the branch, and I felt impressed to share the story in John 21:15-17 ... "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. "He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is love. It is looking beyond yourself to something greater and far more important than the day to day - to eternal salvation. And our own eternal salvation is found as we focus on others.
For the past eighteen months, I have been privileged to devote my time to serving my fellow men and to serving God. I have seen people at their worst and their best. I have celebrated with them, mourned with them, and helped them through the day to day. They've helped me through the day to day as well. I have seen the Lord put me in people's lives - and put others in mine - at exactly the moment when they were ready to give up. I have felt sorrow as they have decided to turn another way, and rejoicing as they've accepted the love of our Father in Heaven and allowed it to change their lives. I have felt my own love for those around me expand to measures that I hadn't imagined were possible. And as I have loved these people, I have seen the face of God. I have seen His hand in their lives and in mine. And I have felt His love for me more than ever before.
This isn't an experience that only missionaries can have. The commandment that Christ gave to Peter remains in force for each and every one of us. If we truly love Christ, we will serve Him by serving others (Mosiah 2:17). And as we do so, we will find that we love Christ even more than before, and that we are loved by Him in ways that we cannot fathom. I want to continue being a tool in the Lord's hands for the rest of my life on earth and in the life to come. There are so many around us who are in pain and searching for the truth. Let us not leave them groping in the darkness, but be a light to lead them home - whether or not we wear a badge.