Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Art Thou Greater Than He?

I read D & C 122 today. It was good for me, for a lot of reasons. If you're unfamiliar with the passage it is worth taking time out to read before reading this. While a prsioner in the Liberty Jail, separated from his dear family, Joseph Smith cried out to the Lord many times. In March of 1839 God answered.

It may not have been the answer dear Joseph wanted. I've tried putting myself in his place. I would have wanted the Lord to say, "Don't worry, my precious Servant, I'm protecting you. You'll be back with your family soon, and all your enemies will know you are My servant." He didn't. Instead he listed all these conditional statements, and told Joseph Smith it is for his good. But, to Joseph, these weren't vague possibilities that he would have to determine in his heart to stay faithful regardless. These were his actual mortal experiences.

The Lord picked things that Joseph had lived. Look at verse six. "If thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of they wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you?"

Can you picture the torment in Joseph's heart? Not to mention his poor young son? Most of you have children. Picture one of your children at the tender age of six being torn from your bosom. Picture him fearing the "bad guys" taking his beloved parent away. Picture Joseph Smith wondering if he would ever see his dear wife and child again. Can you feel the anguish in his heart? I can, and it tears at my soul.

The Lord didn't end there though. After continuing on with other trials he says, "If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee....." Yes, father, what then? "know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." Wow. Probably not what he was hoping. In some ways it sounds a little like when I tell my children to eat their asparagus. How many times has a parent uttered the phrase, "Because it is good for you."?

What could make such severe heartbreak and trauma good for us? Only one thing. God is preparing us to lead in eternity. We are being prepared for forever. If God could casually allow such heartache and it be only so we learn to "submit" in this life, He would be a most cruel God. My heart and spirit tells me that that is not it though. I am not undermining the importance of not resisiting at the trials God brings to our path. Instead I am looking past it to why it could be "good" for us.

We are not to resist His path for us, no matter how painful. When a prophet of the church made it known that Paul the apostle would be delivered up to the gentiles on his next trip to Jerusalem, the people began to weep and implore him not to go. What was Paul's response? "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jersalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 21:13 Oh how I want to have Paul's resolve! Whatever you want for me, Lord, I am ready. My spirit says that, but my flesh resists. I have dreams and hopes. What if they aren't in God's plan? That is when I have to look past this life.

Just as the Lord told Joseph Smith it was for his good and giving him experience, He is saying the same to us. I do not believe it was meant only for earthly experience. How would death help Joseph Smith with that? It wouldn't. This life is all in preparation for the next. He didn't just tell Joseph Smith that it was good for him though. He also reminded him of the Savior. In the very next verse, he says, "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than He?" D & C 122:8 The answer, of course, is no. And neither am I.

Do you know what amazes me about the Savior though? Here I am thinking all about my eternity. Drawing hope in what my experiences will mean for me in the future. But, the Savior didn't go through mortality for His own eternity. He went through it for ours. He wasn't even considering what it would bring to Him. Remember what He said at the Heavenly Counsel? ""Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." Moses 4:2 I wonder how much longer it will take me to be like Him?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Have they heard?

I was reading Psalm 44 today. It begins like this..... "We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old." It occured to me how important it is not just to tell our children the great works that God has done in Scripture, but in our lives as well.

Sometimes seeing how God answered a prayer of their mom's, or how He intervened when I didn't even know I needed help will have a greater impact on them than hearing about the parting of the Red Sea. It brings it closer to home. I can't tell you how many times, when I am speaking about a spiritual topic with someone that one of my children will say, "Mom, tell them about the time that...." I'm always surprised at the things they remember.

So, take some time to think about things God has taught you, or done for you and pick a couple to tell your children, or your neighbor's children if your kids have heard all your stories already.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When you are alone

Before I get into my planned post, let me say. Yes, I did go to the temple for my endowments this past weekend. Suffice it to say that it was wonderful. I cannot wait to go back! I'm already looking for a weekend that isn't already taken up to make an appointment. I wish I could say more, but the things that are on my heart regarding the ceremony and experience we cannot talk about. So, if you want to know what I'm thinking about regarding the experience, you can come with me to a temple session and we can talk about it there. Wouldn't that be fun!

Now, onto my post.......

"Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled." Matthew 26:56

There will always be times in our lives when, for lack of a better word, we are forsaken. Sometimes it will be through our own errors, but other times it is through no fault of our own. People are people. Even the best of people will hurt and disappoint. The key is to let it draw you to the Savior. My tendency is to pull inward. I tend to be untrusting to begin with, but if I begin to trust someone and let my guard down, any betrayal makes it that much harder for me to form loving, trusting relationships in the future.

It would dishonor the Savior for me to remain that way, so I have to keep trying. Sometimes I want to give up. I feel that way now. But, I read how those who have ministered with the Savior day in and day out, professing they would die for Him, leave Him at His hour of greatest need, and realize all our deepest hurts were experienced by Him who loves us most. He has felt my pain before. So what did He do? Once resurrected did he retaliate? No. He simply did His best to love them anyway. Of course His best will always be better than ours, but we cannot honor Him without trying.

There are some things I am going to try this time around. When tears are pouring down my cheeks and my heart aches so much that it feels like it is about to split, I am going to cry out to Him to remember how He felt when His disciples left Him and help me know what to do. I'm also going to remember that He loves me. Even if He was or is the only one who loves me, I am loved. And I'm loved by someone who will never put me aside. So, aside from crying out to Him, I will try to feel loved.

Other things He calls us to do in these circumstances I think I'm pretty good at. He wants us to love those who do not love us. Sometimes that comes easier to me than others. What helps is trying to see where they struggle and having compassion on them. When that is not enough I ask our Heavenly Father to show me some ways to love them.

When you love those who hurt you, you are being a Savior to them on Mt. Zion. You are also ministering to the Savior Himself. Just as Matthew says elsewhere, "Inasmuch as you've done it to the least of my brethren, you've done it onto me. So, go and be a Savior to others and remember you are loved by Him who loves permanently.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

On my way to the temple

I go to the temple in two days to get my endowments. I have been looking forward to this day for so long. My dear friend Wally wrote me a few weeks back pointing out that as I get closer to the temple I should expect challenges. He was even thoughtful enough to list a few:
  • My children's health and well being were threatened. (My oldest son was diagnosed with a mass on his heart. Just so you know, we recently found out the mass should not be life threatening. We'll just keep and eye on it.)

  • My home was broken into. The theif/theives took everything I use to make my living.

  • A drunk from my neighborhood showed up on my porch one evening to tell me he's been thinking about me and thinks I'm beautiful. (Why can't eligible, worthy LDS men tell me that?) This man showed up again this week to yell at me for a bit. Thankfully he didn't stay long.

  • Added stress: financial worries, children plugging up pipes, needs I can't meet, more than the usual child messes and destruction.

  • Unexpected temptations

  • An old friend who consistently causes me pain.

  • Now I'm sitting in bed sick.

I'll say this much. Even if I have a 104 degree fever, I am going to the temple. It is too important to me. I can't wait to learn. I'm excited about passing out family names to the people who are coming with me. I'm excited about sitting in the celestial room with my friends as they try to answer my questions. I sure hope I can remember everything.

Don't you think it is wonderful that our Heavenly Father provides a place for us where the veil is at least slightly thinner? A place where we can sit and listen to the Spirit and make convenants that help us on our journey? I think the temple is a little like a refuge away from home. I don't know if I'll be able to hear the Spirit with less effort there or not, but I will at least give it a valiant effort.

Only two days left to wait. I'm praying the kids don't completely destroy the place while I'm trying to get well enough to attend comfortably.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Seek Ye First

Because of my circumstances I tend to guard my time, so when the Rogers came and offered to take my children to a movie this afternoon my first thought was, "Great. I'll get some uninterrupted work done." God had other plans.

Across the street live a family of Muslims from Turkey. We've always been very friendly with them, although sometimes the language barrier is difficult. Today her mother came over to invite me to tea. Yes, don't worry, I follow the word of wisdom. I was a little frustrated because I was really wanting to use this time to work, but I knew it would be considered an insult to decline. So off I trotted across the street.

I asked for water instead of tea, which led to a whole host of questions. They had an interpreter there, so we were able to converse very well. For the last two hours I have gotten to share our faith with them. What beautiful spirits were in that room and how open they were to learning about my faith. It was such a glorious time.

I see the hand of our Heavenly Father in sending someone to take my children out today so the conversation about faith could go so much more smoothly and uninterrupted. I'm sure He is much more interested in using my time to share the gospel than in accomplishing those things I deem so important. I was slightly worried about how much time I was losing for work, but the verse kept coming to my mind, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you."

I'm confident as I use my time to share the gospel, minister to the needy, prepare my relief society lesson, and study hymns for my other calling as chorister that Heavenly Father will provide a way for me to use my time more effectively in providing for my family.

Please pray for this dear family from Turkey and their visiting mother to be open to the gospel. I just brought them a restoration DVD and they were excited to view it. I'm looking forward to how the Spirit will use this opportunity in both of our lives.