Monday, November 27, 2017

Not a Whit Behind

My morning scripture study today included the story of when the prophet Nephi exercised the sealing power (a la Elijah in the Old Testament) to call down war, then famine, then rain at last upon the people in an effort to get them to repent and return to God. When they did so, they "did esteem him as a great prophet, and a man of God, having great power and authority given unto him from God." (Helaman 11:18)

Knowing how I feel about the prophets old and new, I could relate to their love and admiration. Daily, I am grateful for the technology that allows me to listen to General Conference talks while I do chores. The words of the great church leaders lift me and fill me with hope and faith. It's easy think of them as the very finest of mortal beings. 

And then I read one more verse, a simple, almost throw-away comment with huge implications: "And behold, Lehi, his brother, was not a whit behind him as to things pertaining to righteousness."

Wow. Lehi might not have been a prophet--or any kind of person in the limelight--but in the way that mattered most, his worthiness before the Lord, he was just as good as the prophet Nephi! One wasn't bigger and better than the other. They were equal in the eyes of the Lord!

photo credit: sadhguru

It's easy for us to get into a hero-worship mode with our Church leaders, whether global or local. Sometimes we look up to a gospel teacher or a missionary in the same way, and we think, "Wow, they've got it all together. Look at how they teach. Look at how they serve. Look how wise they are!"  As we lift them up, we may inadvertently take a dip in our own self-esteem as we think of how we don't measure up to their capacities. "They are so much better than I am!" 

But God isn't measuring or comparing our capacities. He gave them to us, so He already knows what's there. He is paying attention to the part that we control--our willingness to follow His example and keep His commandments. [Note that I did not say our ability to follow/keep, but our willingness. He knows we'll fall short. That's why He gave us a Savior.] 

He also isn't comparing our worthiness against each other and saying, "I love this guy because he's more obedient than you are." The Lord loves all of us and wants all of us to return to Him. He gave His life in order to make that possible, and it's an open invitation.

Every single one of us has the potential to match a prophet in "things pertaining to righteousness" because each of us can repent as often as we sin and partake of the purifying power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Clean is clean. Whom God forgives and sanctifies is clean every whit, no matter how started out. We don't need to rank ourselves against others or feel inferior (or superior, for that matter) because our worth is great in the sight of God, and He is willing and able to save all who come unto Him.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Of course as soon as I made the decision to start this blog, trials and tribulations increased to fill my mind and my time with the kind of things that siphon hope. But I'm determined, and one great joy each day has been listening to past General Conference talks to glean wisdom and strength. In April 2004, Elder McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric gave a talk entitled, "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee". In it, he shared the following sentiment: 

Jesus, the very thought of Thee fills my heart with inexpressible joy. It controls every part of my being. My life, y loves, my ambitions are molded, enlivened, and given purpose because I know that Thou art the Christ, the Holy One. 

This testimony put words to a feeling I have long had, which is that following Christ is a whole-life endeavor--not just the duration of my years, but also the full breadth of all I do. 

I'm a wife. Do I sustain my husband in his Priesthood callings?
I'm a mother. Am I raising my children up to be disciples of Christ?
I'm a writer. Do my words edify and inspire?
I'm a teacher. Do I empower others to access the divine qualities within themselves, whether or not they know God?
I'm a martial artist. Do I practice my sport in a culture of peace?
I'm a singer. Does my voice lift praise to Heaven?
I'm a neighbor, and a carpool driver, and a shopper, and a pet owner. Does everything I do reflect the One who means everything to me?

When I do let my Savior's light shine in my life, I do feel that peace and comfort. An abiding happiness overrules the nagging concerns of the day, and I understand better how all things fit into a larger, much wiser plan.

In what ways does your faith influence your daily actions--and thereby your daily sense of connection to God?

photo credit: Barrie Christian Fellowship
Click here to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee". 

Consider the Lilies