God is in complete control of our lives, and when we’re righteous, we can view any trials or setbacks that come our way as gifts of experience from the Lord.
This week, my mission companion Daniel Lopez came down from Boise to spend a few days in Provo with our other companion, Alex Moreno. We went out to lunch on Wednesday and I invited him to come volunteer with me at the MTC the next day. He agreed, and we picked a time early enough that he would be able to make it to the bus station afterwards and catch the bus back home at about noon.
Early the next morning, before our volunteer session at the MTC, I decided to go in to work for a few hours because in the afternoon, I had some errands to run and wouldn’t be able to work at that time.
At 10 am I left work and met Daniel at the MTC. As we walked to the volunteer lobby, he told me that Alex, who was originally going to take him to the Greyhound station in Salt Lake, had a class to attend, so Daniel asked if I could take him to Salt Lake using Alex’s car. I told him that I could, since my decision to work in the early morning had left my whole afternoon free.
We enjoyed the hour teaching with the missionaries in Spanish. When we got out, however, we realized that our lessons went longer than they were supposed to. Quickly, we found Alex’s car and set out on the freeway to Salt Lake with Daniel’s luggage. The GPS said that we would arrive at the station a minute after the bus would be departing: 12:16 pm.
I merged into the carpool lane and tried to pick up the speed to shave a minute or two off of our arrival time. Daniel, however, was calm. He said to me, “If we don’t make it on time, it’s for a reason. God may still need me here for something.”
I silently agreed. He continued, “Think about why we were late: we were helping missionaries learn how to teach. God’s not going to punish us because we were doing a good thing.”
It was true! I thought back to my day so far: I hadn’t really committed any major sins that day, and most of my words had been truthful and kind. I hadn’t broken any major commandments, and I didn’t get angry at someone else. And I certainly hadn’t been lazy—I had been volunteering at one of the Lord’s institutions!
The worry left my mind as we enjoyed the rest our our beautiful drive through the mountains. We talked just as we had in the old days, sharing inspirational thoughts and spiritual musings. The freeway seemed to open up before us and we made good time, arriving at the station a few minutes before the bus was to leave.
I dropped Daniel off at the curb and circled around to find parking. When I walked inside the station, I saw Daniel still at the counter next to an older hispanic lady. I stood back and listened. He was translating for her in Spanish to the ticket clerk. She was also going to Boise, but from their conversation, it sounded like both she and Daniel had missed the bus.
Two other young men stood near me, and I overheard that they were going to Idaho, too. I walked over and asked them, “Did we miss the 12:15 bus to Boise?”
One of them smiled and said, “Oh, we didn’t miss it. It got cancelled!” They explained that there was crash on the freeway, and so the next bus wouldn’t leave until midnight. The two young men were trying to decide what to do for the next twelve hours—whether to meet a friend in Salt Lake, or go back to Provo.
Daniel finished helping the woman and then came over and relayed the same news about the crash to me. He’d gotten his tickets swapped out for the midnight bus, so he said that we could just go back to BYU and that Alex would drive him back that night. Before we walked out, I whispered to Daniel asking him if he thought we should offer a ride to the two young men who were also stuck waiting. He thought it was a good idea, so we walked over and offered to take them back to Provo. They politely declined, saying they’d find something to do here in town, but we still felt good and we knew they sincerely appreciated it.
As we walked back towards the car, Daniel asked if I wanted get lunch from The Habit, one of our favorite restaurants from our mission. I laughed, thinking he was alluding to the one in California, but he told me, “I’m serious! They have one here in Salt Lake, too!” We went.
From all the details of this whole experience, Daniel’s advice from our drive to Salt Lake has stuck with me. If things don’t go according to plan, there is no need to let worry overtake our minds and emotions. God is in complete control of our lives, and when we’re righteous, we can view any trials or setbacks that come our way as gifts of experience from the Lord.
In my own hardest times, such as when my bike fell off the bike rack or when I’ve had problems in my relationships with others, I have learned this same lesson. We need not be anxious. God loves us. Everything will be okay. Things aren’t as big as they seem in the long run.
It is my testimony that Jesus of Nazareth understands our pains, even the excruciating ones or the seemingly-never-ending ones. He has suffered for us so that He can understand us.
It is also my testimony that God will change our plans to allow us to serve others. I felt that I needed to go to work in the early morning, and I ended up being able to serve my companion during the exact time that I would have been in the office. The Greyhound bus to Boise was cancelled, but we ended up being able to translate for a hispanic woman and offer a ride to two young men. (And more importantly, we gained a few extra hours together that we used to eat some delicious burgers!)
May we ever cast anxiety and worry out of our minds. As we do so, our focus will shift from ourselves to others, and we will have the clarity and discernment to recognize the Savior’s “lost sheep” and serve them in their moments of need.