Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Becoming A Celestial Being

going heavenward

By Annmarie Worthington

*The following is an article I jotted down tonight. I don’t’ know if it will be helpful to anyone but me, but it helped to get the thoughts down.*

I want to reach exaltation. I bet you do too. The only problem is I don’t deserve it. Heavenly Father has said very clearly that He cannot look at sin with the least degree of allowance (D & C 1:31). If there is one thing I know above all others, it is that I sin. I fail all the time. The only thing that gives me hope is the next verse, “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”

But repentance is more than being sorry for our sins. Spencer W. Kimball put it this way:

“Very frequently people think they have repented and are worthy of forgiveness when all they have done is to express sorrow or regret at the unfortunate happening, but their repentance is barely started. Until they have begun to make changes in their lives, transformation in their habits, and to add new thoughts to their minds, to be sorry is only a bare beginning.[1]

There are days I see my failures and think there is no way the Lord can save someone like me. I sin and sorrow pierces my heart. I confess and forsake my sin, but before I know it there I am sinning again. What a wretched daughter of God I am! My poor Father must be so disappointed. Sure, I may make it into the lowest level of the celestial kingdom based on the atonement of Christ and my paltry attempts at keeping the commandments, but let’s face it, I’m not really celestial material.

However, something happened the other day that helped put it in perspective for me. My ten year old daughter came to me visibly upset. She, like her mother, was worried she did not deserve heaven. This precious daughter of God, who has more love and compassion than any child I know. This sweet girl, who even now, practices so she can be a good mother one day. The child who voluntarily goes to her room after losing her temper to read her scriptures and pray to get her heart right was worried. This child thought she might not make it either. At that moment, I saw her as I suspect Heavenly Father sees me- with complete love and compassion. I then found the words that had evaded my own conscience just moments before.

I pointed out to my dear daughter that Heavenly Father knew we could not be perfect. Yet, He loved us so much He provided a way to bring us back to Him. The atonement. No one is capable of sinning more greatly than the atonement can cover. If we believe in Christ, really believe in Him, we must also believe in His power. When God says the atonement covers all our sins, our faith must say, “even mine”. 2 Corinthians 9:15 puts it better than anything else: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”

Now, if you are anything like my Rachel, you want to do more than have faith in the atonement. You want to have a Celestial spirit. So do I. While I believe it starts with having faith in his atonement and knowing our repentance brings restoration, it doesn’t stop there. Our Father is so kind. He knew we’d be grateful and want to bring Him glory. He knew we’d want to be valiant and make Him proud, so he made sure we could learn how. All throughout the Scriptures Heavenly Father gives us ways to be more like him. I wish we could sit for hours and talk about all of them, but alas, this is one article. Therefore I will to focus on just one book. After all, even a long journey begins with a single step.

Our Heavenly Riches

The book of Ephesians is filled with more depth of riches than we are capable of mining this side of eternity, but even just skimming the surface we can come away with jewels more valuable than all the riches of the universe.

There are six chapters in Ephesians and it can be split right in half. The first three chapters tell us of our marvelous position in Christ. As children of the King of Heaven we can scant imagine what is ours for the taking. But, for me, the key passage comes in the first verse of the second half of the book. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” (Ephesians 4:1)

That’s it right there. Once we understand our riches in Christ, which the first three chapters delineates so well you can see your spiritual cup filled to overflowing, he tells us simply to walk worthy. We have been given every grace imaginable. Our sinless Savior died so we could once again enjoy the riches and fellowship of a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Not only that, but He was kind enough to also impart to us His Spirit, which Ephesians calls “the earnest of our inheritance”. How can we not live worthily? Who would not say, “Lord, what would you have me do?” That is what being a Celestial spirit is. It is consistently looking for ways to honor and glorify our Father in Heaven.

A place to start

Fortunately Heavenly Father did not give abstract concepts when he had Paul pen the words to show us how. The remainder of the book is terrestrially practical. His first exhortation to us is to show forbearance to one another in love. He even told us how. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering,…” Eph. 4:2 Don’t you kind of wish he would have given us something easier to start out on?

I think He did it on purpose. Heavenly Father knew that even if this was the only celestial concept we got down, we would be closer to being like Him than almost any other commandment. Loving others is hard, because they are as messed up as we are.

So what does this mean? Essentially it means we are to put up with each other. But, not only that, we are to do it while loving them. Maybe someone has slandered us, or maybe someone mistreats us. It is easy, in our carnal state, to think we deserve better. But why? Why do we deserve better than our Savior? If He can suffer humiliation and death on our behalf, why can we not suffer and love his children anyway.

I could list countless ways I’ve been wronged. Yet it doesn’t even begin to measure up to what the Savior suffered. So, how can we live this out? I think we start by forgiving those who wrong us, being patient and truly longsuffering with those who annoy us, and praying for those who spitefully use and mistreat us. Maybe we can find a way to bless and serve someone who hurts us this week. Or maybe we can figure out something wonderful about them. Invite them to dinner and try to find out what is special about them. There will be something special in them. Ephesians tells us we’ve all been given special gifts. Let’s find out theirs.

Unfortunately, there is not enough space in this article to go through all the wonderful ways Paul outlined for us to walk worthily, but you can study them yourself. He lists the word “walk” at least six times in those final three chapters of Ephesians, giving much practical advice on what to do. As my sweet daughter and I strive to walk worthy of the immense gift we have been given in the atonement, maybe we’ll actually become Celestial beings in a Telestial world. That is my hope and joy.


[1] Spencer W. Kimball, "What Is True Repentance?", New Era, May 1974, 4

5 comments:

Kimberly said...

What a lovely article, thank you for sharing! I'm inspired to try harder to be kind and loving, even when it's hard (well especially then)

Anonymous said...

I just finished asking God, if I should divorce my wife who is full of anger and constantly attacks me. I don't know how I stumbled onto your blog, but I was reading DC 76 and then your article. WOW. You have been given some wonderful insight. I totally agree with what you said here... I just hope I can find a way (with His help) to deal with the day to day pain my wife causes me. Thanks for sharing.

-Steve

Annmarie Worthington said...

Steve,

I'm glad you found this helpful. I know God will give you the grace to do anything He calls you too.

Annmarie

Annmarie Worthington said...

Steve,

I don't know if you're notified about my response and I don't know how to get in touch with you, so I hope you do. I've been thinking about your situation and came across a helpful resource.

http://www.lds-videos.org/General-Conference/Spiritual-Directory-Assistance.shtml

Look especially at the three regarding anger of spouse, hope, and divorce. You'll probably find more relevant ones as well. I hope this helps.

Annmarie

Anonymous said...

I will look it up. Thanks so much for your help.