Monday, February 17, 2014

Week Thirty-Three

WEEK THIRTY-THIRD February 17, 2014

I was deeply touched, unusually so this week, when reading this account in the current Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Joseph Fielding Smith manual: “[Once] as I sat alone with my father [President Joseph Fielding Smith] in his study, I observed that he had been in deep meditation. I hesitated to break the silence, but finally he spoke. ‘Oh, my son, I wish you could have been with me last Thursday as I met with my Brethren in the temple. Oh, if you could have heard them testify of their love for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!’ And then he lowered his head, and tears streamed from his face and dropped to his shirt. Then, after many seconds, without as much as raising his head, but moving his head back and forth, he said, ‘Oh, how I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!” (50).

Sister H and I have had most weeks here, the opportunity to attend the Newport Beach Temple, usually early on Tuesdays. Today I thought I would give Elder Scott’s suggestion a try and prayed that the individual, for whom I was serving as proxy, might enjoy a sweet experience today. Whether that was the initiator or not, I don’t know, but it was an especially heart-warming session for me so I will continue to follow this practice.
I was reminded anew that humility is a soul infused with the light of recognition and a deep sincere gratitude and appreciation that one is completely, willingly and totally dependent upon God. I think King Benjamin’s message in Mosiah 2 is that without Christ in our life, man is absolutely nothing and is less than the dust of the earth. We read in Helaman chapter 12 that the dust of the earth follows and obeys the commands of God which man so often refuses to do. Unless we recognize we are dependent upon Christ for all that we have and can become we have lost everything. He alone is to who we are to look.

Brother Two, who just two days ago was ordained an Elder, is working for the next month on 12 hours on 12 hours off shifts in a very dangerous job. Before he left I gave him a blessing. Today he texted: "I wanted you to know that I've been experiencing a peace today that is unreal. But by all means real. Usually I'd be nervous to work at night. Uneasy. When you said the Lord had blessings in store you meant just what you said. Tonight I can truly say that I know that Peter, James and John laid their hands on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the Holy Order of the Son of God." 

At our district meeting today, Sister H shared a powerful testimony of the atonement and its capacity to change people’s lives. She talked about the climbing up and down stairs to visit with one brother, he being pretty well unresponsive, and wondering just what are we accomplishing. Then last week, the Lord allowed Sister H to see just what was happening to him, she could see the changes he had made, the strides he was now taking, the love the Lord had for him and saw with new eyes what was happening week upon week, right in front of us. The missionaries were still as can be throughout her testimony. I notice earlier when we were sharing ideas about the atonement their focus was primarily upon being washed clean whereas mine was on the power and strength incident to the Atonement which changes, enables and perfects us if we are willing to allow it, so that we become someone who will be comfortable in the presence of God and Christ.

We had our third meeting with Brother Forty-Two, again at Panera Bread. I asked him why he wanted to learn about the church. He said he had met so many Mormon’s, all of whom were such good people, so he wanted to understand why. I then asked him how he responded to those who came to him seeking a testimony. His reply was Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 that whoever calls upon the Lord will be saved. I couldn’t elicit any discussion of prayer, study, desire, or practice. He was anxious to review our previous discussion and pulled out all his notes which he proceeded to go through one by one.

We have a recent convert who has had a tough time getting away from the Bible so he could spend any time at all with the Book of Mormon. We have felt for some time that the Lord wants him to become as secure in the Book of Mormon so we have been encouraging him to do so. Today he told me, “The Book of Mormon is awesome! I’m starting to see why they say that no other book will draw a man closer to the Lord.”

At our Bible Study this week I compared John 17 and 3 Nephi 19, reading and commenting together verse by verse. These two chapters are very emotional to me as they create powerful images in my mine, principally of our Savior personally representing me to Heavenly Father. Tonight however another idea, equally as powerful came to my mind. A partial genesis for tonight I am sure was that the ward missionary leader’s five young daughters, the oldest just turned 12, were with us and took their turns reading verses with their pure, sweet, innocent voices. I thanked the mother and father for the contribution their daughters had made the night before and he told me he had felt impressed to be a little more firm in inviting the girls to stay the whole time given the topic.

I think a broader concept of unity and its importance, as eternal beings enjoying exaltation, began to form in my mind last night and I began to see an association with light and joy. Light is such a difficult subject to discuss as it is so complex. I thought I had a handle on it once and tried to teach a 16 week Institute class on the subject of “light” alone. However, it became apparent to me as we neared the end of the semester that I had been unable to awaken class members to any understand of just what that substance, and it is a substance I believe, is.

During our Bible Study I began to see that joy, glory, light, truth and intelligence are of the same spiritual continuum, or substance, all manifestations of God. My favorite scripture along that line is Alma 19:6 which describes what was happening to King Lamoni when he was under the power of God. I love the part where it says "the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul." This verse seems to be saying to me that the joy we feel, as we act in righteousness, comes through or because of the light of the glory of God which He enjoys because of His goodness, having chosen to live in light and truth.

We learn from the 93rd Section that light and truth is both the glory of God and intelligence and that these cannot be created or made and have always existed. Further that we condemn ourselves when we reject the light given to us, reminding us always that it is a gift. Finally, in D&C 50:23-24 we learn that it is light that is the edifying source and comes from God.

The ward mission leader pointed out to me that John 17 contains no Joseph Smith Translation changes, a connection I had never made before which got me wondering if this chapter got through unscathed, keeping all its plain and precious parts.

We learned from the sister missionaries that a young girl has decided to be baptized after corresponding with our granddaughter Whitney who shared her baptismal experience with her. The young girl telling her mom, “I’m ready to be baptized.” So the sisters will begin teaching her this week. All of which is very exciting for our granddaughter doing effective missionary work while only ten years of age.

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