Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Building A Palace

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the pain experienced in adversity and trials. It is such a struggle! I have often wondered (and I know that I am not the only one) why it has to be so difficult?

I found an incredible answer in a quote from the amazing author, CS Lewis. He said:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of– throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
CS Lewis
These words by CS Lewis blow me away. The visual that he describes is simply amazing. Christ has no intention for us to become only 'cottages'. We go through incredibly hard times in our lives and we are bound to experience great pain. We may even want to give up or cry out and suggest that our burdens are 'too much.' However, we must ponder that "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8). The price of our sins has already been paid for by our Savior. He bought a palace. We should never give up or complain and end up settling for a cottage.

His sacrifice and love is incredibly personal. I love to personalize the verses in Doctrine and Covenants 76:41-42 that describe Christ's sacrifice. "That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for [me], and to bear [my] sins, and to sanctify [me] from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him." How wonderful and personal our relationship with Christ becomes when we realize that He endured so much for us on an individual level. He truly is our best friend.

"The Lost Lamb" by Del Parsons
His love is so deep that He endured pains greater than any man has ever experienced so we will never be alone in our sorrow, anger, frustration, confusion, etc. His greatest desire is for us to endure our own trials while accessing His sacrifice and ultimately becoming the 'palace' that He has intended for us to become. He wants what is best for us. He does not want us to settle for mediocrity. When we look at our adversities as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks while relying completely on Jesus Christ we will achieve greatness. Christ will build us to be palaces.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Forward in Happiness

There is an old expression that says, "April showers bring May flowers." Other than teaching that rain brings needed nourishment to seeds thus bringing forth blossoming flowers, this phrase teaches a great life lesson: No matter what dark and difficult times we may face we can be confident that, when endured well, the said trial will result in greater personal growth.

Springtime in the great state of Montana!
There are many people who simply look at Spring as 'the rainy three months before Summer starts'. It is true that it can get a little bit on the wet side of things but we shouldn't get down in the dumps about it. In fact, we should embrace the season and spring forward in happiness! This time of year is one of excited renewal.

Everyone faces tough times! They might stem from something trivial (like rain!) or from a much deeper and more personal issue. One thing that I know, without doubt, is that adversity comes to us for many reasons known to the Lord. Christ said to the prophet, Isaiah, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8). No matter what we are struggling with we may be confident that "it shall accomplish that which [pleases the Lord]" (Isaiah 55:11).

Whenever I am faced with excessive suffering I often think of a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales. It is called, "Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done". I recommend this beautiful talk to everyone! In it he shares a scripture that has changed my life! It reads, "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalms 30:5). No matter what garbage I might be going through I can always draw strength from these words. Sadness will enter our hearts but the Lord will make up for it a hundred fold!

Elder Robert D. Hales
When adversity is handled with faith the Lord will strengthen us. When Joseph Smith was wrongfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail he went through unimaginable hardships. However, he was promised that it was all for a more glorious purpose. The Lord said, "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7). If we ever find ourselves in our own personal "Liberty Jail" we can remember the words of Paul: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Even when we feel hopeless at the end of our rope we can be confident that we will see Christ again and remember His words which said "your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22).

Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail
No one can take your joy from you but yourself! So, spring forward in happiness. Trust in God that "all things will work together for your good" and that joy will come in the morning. Retain your joy by reading scriptures, being charitable, being full of gratitude, and turning to God in prayer. Be happy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I. Love. Easter.

The things that Christ taught on the earth are simple and everlasting. Everything that He lived for and taught is found in the scriptures and is embodied in the greatest act of service: the Atonement. Easter is meant to direct our thoughts and actions to this great sacrifice. Easter is a wonderful time of year where we have a special occasion to recognize and honor our Savior. The sacrifice that Jesus endured is the most important event ever to have occurred in the history of the world. He took upon Himself the physical, emotional, and spiritual pains, sufferings, sicknesses, confusions, etc. on behalf of you and me (Alma 7:11-12). His love is infinitely deep. He then proclaimed that "it is finished" when He died on the cross (John 19:30). His body remained in the tomb for three days before He was gloriously resurrected and the angel proclaimed "He is not here: for he is risen" (Matthew 28:6). How great is our Lord!

Christ, after His resurrection, ministered for forty days in Jerusalem where He taught and showed Himself to many of His disciples. Paul writes of these visits in his first epistle to the Corinthians.

"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: And after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James, then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain: but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:4-10).

These verses are particularly touching to me. Christ loves all of us. He will manifest that love to even those of us who have not followed Him as strictly as they ought to. I am one of those, like Paul, who proclaims that I am the least of all who deserve His divine help. Yet, I have tasted of the love and light of our Savior. I also declare that it is "by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain" and I will "[labour] more abundantly" to follow Him more closely (1 Corinthians 15:10).

I plead with all of you to labour more abundantly to follow the Messiah. No matter what we have done, "his hand is stretched out still" (Isaiah 9:17). Make this Easter special and give it to the Lord. Serve others. Pray. Repent. Love. I promise that as we more abundantly follow Him, He will more abundantly bless us.

Please watch this short video depicting some important events from Christ's ministry and his glorious atonement.

I. Love. Easter.