Being the father of four young boys and working with other young boys in my church calling I observe a lot that is immature in them, but at the same time I observe so much potential and growth that occurs so quickly. There is an amazing difference between an 11 year old and a 21 year old, and this development happens gradually at times and in distinguishable spurts at others. One of these distinguishable points of development occurs in the LDS church when at the age of 12 a boy receives the Aaronic priesthood, is ordained a deacon, and begins to serve in that capacity. They know what they are doing is serious and have an expanded sense of duty, reverence, and dedication.
I was thinking about this the other day and remembering a young man who taught me so much about sacrifice and consecration and how to actually live these principles at an early point in my life. I was in the first few months of my mission, and he was maybe a year older than me, just 20 years old—eight years after having received the Aaronic priesthood and having held the Melchizedek priesthood for two years at the most. We were assigned to work in a city that was difficult and to which we had to travel by train every day. Five years ago the branch of the church in that city had been closed due to general apostasy, and we were assigned to see if it was the right time to reestablish a branch of the church there.
When I first met this companion he outlined everything he wanted to do, and it was overwhelming to me. I had never done anything close to that in my life. The schedule alone was something I had never come close to doing physically. Due to the fact that we needed to take the train with its inconvenient schedule and due to everything he wanted to accomplish during each day, he wanted to be out the door at 6:15 every morning and return to our apartment around 11:00 every night. I followed his lead and learned from the way he committed himself entirely, heart, mind, and strength, to serving God and those we met, taught, and served. In less than a year I had gone from having all kinds of support and adult leaders to a point where our adult leader (our mission president) was a day’s travel away, and I had only my 20 year old companion, in a situation that was very difficult. In reality, it wasn’t just my companion and me, as the spirit of God was with us, protecting us and enabling us to do so many things we were incapable of doing on our own. I remember a couple of weeks into this experience walking home from the train every night at 11:00 feeling like I had springs in my shoes, energized and happy, due to the effect the spirit was having on me at that time.
What I learned through this experience is that when a person sacrifices everything, placing everything on the altar in the similitude of the Son of God, and consecrating themselves fully to God, they place themselves in a position to receive spiritual blessings that they could not previously have imagined and be developed by God’s grace and enabling power in miraculous ways. Eventually, with full consecration God can give us all He has and all He is.