Hymn text by Mary Judd Page, 1818-1907. View the full text of this hymn.

I never served a full-time mission.

I am the second daughter in a family of six sons and I am the only one of my family–including both my parents–who didn’t go.

I didn’t go because I didn’t feel inspired to go. I remember my sister telling me the story of the moment she received a spiritual confirmation that she should go. She was sitting on the beach on the Gulf of Mexico with my dad, talking about her last semester of college, and suddenly the topic of a mission came up. It was like something clicked in her mind and a short time later she received her call to serve in northern California.

I remember hearing her tell me this story when I was about eight years old and thinking immediately, “Yeah, that’s never going to happen to me.”

I was right. My window to apply for full-time missionary service came and went and I finished school instead, took a job, and met and married my husband.

So what does this missionary-ish hymn hold for me? As a sister in the church whose mission has shifted to a much smaller scale (read: here I refer to the small people I am raising) I don’t do much publishing of peace on the mountaintops these days.

To me, it all boils down to one verse: “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3).

I do want to serve God, mostly because His blessings to me have been consistent, personal, and sometimes miraculous. Offering my service to Him is like putting down a penny tip on a $1,000 restaurant bill (which, of course, He already paid), but at least it’s something. It’s like my version of the widow’s mite in Mark 12, but instead of paying a tithe I’m giving the Lord some of my time.

This mission of service has become incredibly personal to me in the last two years. I had the blessing to be part of an LDS community in central Virginia who reached out over and over to our little family through what seemed like a never-ending stream of crises. I cannot speak of these people without weeping because for the first time in my life, I truly understood what it was like to live in Zion.

There were meals and babysitting, job offers, hours of moving furniture and cleaning and painting. With every new difficulty there came a fresh wave of Saints to succor us, lift up our hands which hung down, and strengthen our feeble knees (D&C 81:5). And if that is not a pure example of performing God’s work, I don’t know what is.

Today I keep these Saints and their examples of pure charity in my heart as a talisman against my own foot-dragging reticence to serve others. I am still uncovering God’s mission for me in my life, but if it proves to be one-tenth as significant in someone else’s life as these small, never-ending acts of service have been in my life, then I will be satisfied.

One comment on “Hymn #321: Ye Who Are Called to Labor”

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