Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Why weakness

“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble.” (Ether 12:27.)

We sometimes are “softened”, even “humbled,” by catastrophic circumstances: floods, fires, earthquakes, tornados, famines. By suffering, we are led to recognize what truly matters. During times of common crises we tend to come together, overlooking differences, recognizing commonalities, even our  common “brotherhood.” Overcoming great adversity tends to have its powerful effect on us: we may even repent, becoming sanctified and cleansed.

As fate would have it, natural disasters are rare. But God has provided for us a ready substitute.

Because of our weaknesses, we tend to create “storms” and “hailstones” of our own. We fight and quarrel and disagree. We jar and contend and strive. We criticize and complain and compare and debate. We accuse and incriminate and condemn. We do all manner of evil.

But as we solemnly and humbly face these trials — as the storms and seas and fires and floods and churning earth seek to unsettle us — as we approach each challenge with dignity, calmly, patiently, meekly, quietly, resolutely, willing to submit rather than to offend, willing to defer rather than to challenge, willing to go along to get along, rather than to rock the boat, never to sin, but also never to entice to sin — as we do all this in every circumstance — as we face each “contest” and "trial" with charity and patience — then we become sanctified.

God gives us our weaknesses — like storms — to stir us up and to unsettle us to repentance, to give us multiple opportunities, interacting with others, to practice what the Master did perfectly: to suffer, to sacrifice, to subsume self to the will of God in the service of others at all times, patiently. Our weaknesses — and, more importantly, the weaknesses we find in others — give us opportunity, almost daily, to be Christlke: to forgive, to repair, to show compassion, to love.

"Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof." (3 Nephi 13:34.)

Without our weaknesses, there would be no “drama.” There would be no tears, no sorrows, no trials, no needs.

And no joy.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bearing Jesus' cross

There is significance to the fact that Jesus carried His own cross. 

He willingly bore every burden placed on Him, even to the point of carrying for others the very instrument they would use to kill Him! Is this not reminiscent of Uriah, who dutifully bore to General Joab King David's letter condemning Uriah to death? (See 2 Samuel 11:14.)

Jesus was found "guilty" under Jewish law (as they conceived it), "condemned" by those who claimed the right and power to do so. He was betrayed and abandoned by those whom He loved, whom He had served and brought into His "inner" circle. His execution was ordained to be "justified" by those who consented to His death. By His actions, Jesus demonstrated that He would submit to them: that He would submit to all things whatsoever His Father saw fit to inflict upon Him, in whatsoever circumstances His Father ordained to place Him. Jesus not only submitted to His Father's will, but consented to cooperate even with evil doers, so long as they did not require Him to sin.

Jesus honored His own word. He gave to those who asked of Him. For those who compelled Him to carry a burden for a mile, He went with them twain. He even carried His own cross until He couldn't bear it any farther, until He collapsed under the strain, crushed by torture, fatigue and exhaustion. 

He didn't stop carrying it when it became inconvenient for Him to do so or even, quite frankly, when it was utterly undesirable to continue. He didn't drop His heavy load even though bearing it was patently disadvantageous (as far as this world is concerned!).
He carried it until it nearly killed Him.

And then it did.

He bore the most awful of burdens until He couldn't bear it any more. He never gave up. He never stopped trying. He never stopped loving. He never stopped doing what was asked of Him...until it was simply impossible for Him to do it any longer.

What does this tell us about the Man? About His commitment and His determination to save us? 

What does it tell us about what He expects from us?
21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do. (3 Nephi 27:21.)
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:15-18.)
When Jesus faced temptation, contradiction, even annihilation, He quoted scripture. He shored up His faith and resolve by reminding Himself of God's unfailing words:
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Luke 4:14)
When we do anything less, or anything else, we drink damnation to our souls.

Let us "look to God and live." (Alma 37:47.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Card Game

I wrote the following in my journal, Christmas Day, 1997. It seems appropriate to share now.

[1997 December 25: Thursday, Christmas Day: 1626 hrs.] Each life is dealt a handful of painful hardship, cards of loneliness and loss. The longer one sits at the table, the more of these cards one receives! For some, joining the table only briefly, these are the only cards ever held. But, for most of us, together with cards of sorrow and solitude come cards of happiness and joy, dreams realized and hopes fulfilled. With the sorrows and the losses come thrilling victories and unexpected pleasures unspeakable. To endure the trials of misfortune well (waiting patiently for better hands) and to experience favorable cards with humility (knowing that lesser hands invariably follow) is a necessary part of life’s experience. 

I have lost my share of loves. Life’s marks have been carved deeply into my soul. I have seen the love of my life slip from my fingers into the murky depths of the past and I have longed with my whole soul to reclaim that love again. But it is gone - for now, placed permanently on “pause” - perhaps for the remainder of my life. But I will see the day when all my dreams will be fulfilled. Yea, greater things than this has God prepared for me, when I have proven faithful. And I have hope renewed, determined, and unshaken that through the gospel of repentance and a determination to serve Him to the end, I shall receive an everlasting reward of love forever, from Him, in a kingdom of heaven.

So far, that expectation has meant that I must give away everything material I hold dear: my loves, my dreams, my vain, personal ambitions. All must be left on the altar of sacrifice and obedience. Each night I renew this pledge, to sacrifice all former loves to Him, my God. This alone empowers me with the strength to continue, without which I could never have any other god than myself, with my own lusts and passions to command me. And my only hope would be in the arm of my own flesh - a god I have already proven to be a very puny and unreliable deity indeed! To trust in one’s self is to trust in nothing at all. As Moses sad, “man is nothing.” (Moses 1:10.) But now I know this for myself.