“Oh That I Were An Angel…”

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! (Alma 29:1)

Over the past year, I’ve felt the power of the words, “Oh that I were an angel…but when Alma says he wants to cry repentance unto every people, well I didn’t understand the last part-about crying repentance.  If it was scripture from me, I would have said, “Oh that I were an angel, I would tell the world how much God loves them.”  But lately I’m beginning to see the connection.  I was wanting to type a post on how repentance is about love.  I’m beginning to see on a deeper level, how the gospel is all about love-especially repentance.

Recognizing and then following the Lord’s Spirit in our lives is key to coming unto Christ, and being perfected in Him.  Over many years, I began to think God was harsh and punishing.  But I was wrong, His Spirit is loving, peaceful and inviting.  Anything that makes us fear God and not feel worthy to approach Him, does not come from Him.  God is love.  “I cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (D&C 1:31)  And “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10) is because he loves us.  Sin is bondage.  And our Father in Heaven, out of love, wants to keep us free.  The devil wants all men miserable like himself, and God sent His Son-to save us.  “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).  I want to shout, “MEN ARE THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE JOY!!!” The gospel is a message of love and the pathway to joy.  It’s forsaking the ungodly things in our life for something much better…

I can see for myself in life, some things have been hard to let go of.  Some things I didn’t want to let go of, and other weights and burdens I gladly give up.  “I don’t want this-I’m so glad I don’t have to carry this anymore!”  And I gladly stop carrying the burden.  Some weaknesses and temptations take superhuman strength to overcome and may be a process of giving up-again and again.  The enabling power of the atonement is how we can overcome.  Line upon line.  The Lord loves us so very much.

The other day I was beating myself up for having made the same mistake-AGAIN.  I was feeling all those thoughts of, “It’s just too hard…why can’t I be done with this…” and I felt ridiculous to have to come to the Lord and repent-AGAIN.  The words came to my heart, “I will forgive you.  However many times it takes, I will forgive you.  Just keep coming back to me.”  I felt peace and love.  And I knew I wasn’t in this alone.  I don’t have to be better to come to Christ-HE makes me better, He makes me stronger, He makes me a new person…again and again.

There are no little things…  Recently I was checking something on the internet that leaves me with that mind-numbing feeling.  Deep down I felt like it’s not only a waste of time, but that I needed to stop doing it.  Over the past year, I’ve been able to see how reading certain blogs and checking certain sites actually kept me from feeling a strong spirit.  I’ve noticed how one by one, the Spirit has helped me stop reading things that were not enlightening.  As I checked these sites and blogs less and less, the Spirit was stronger in my life and I was less distracted.  There is a lot of great stuff out there, and then there is just waste of time, distracting stuff. I noticed how much more I was enjoying my life when I would try to focus on reading the things that brought me closer to Christ and improved my life.  But there was this one thing that I didn’t want to stop spending my time on.  And I would get the deep down feeling that I should quit wasting my time…”But I need a balanced life…but this is so harmless and silly to think it matters…” And on and on the justification went.  Then the Spirit got my attention.  The words came clearly to my mind, “This is keeping you from fulfilling your mission and purpose here on earth.”  And I put it down.  I got it.  I was reminded that there are no small things and the promptings and invitations we receive from the Spirit are because He loves us.

I can look back and see the difference in trying to overcome without and then with the Savior.  For a long time, I struggled with something that was a big stumbling block and thought I needed to overcome it by myself.  With the help of the adversary, I was convinced that the Lord didn’t need to be bothered with this and that I needed to overcome it to be worthy to come before Him.  Oh how wrong I was!  When I tried to overcome it by myself-this would just transfer the stumbling block to other things.  I wasn’t getting to the root of the problem-nor could I even see the root of the problem.  Then with the Savior’s loving care, He showed me how.  He shed light on the whole issue.  And through His power and love, he freed me.  He guided me through and I was amazed.

Repentance is about love.  It’s about freedom from bondage.  It’s about forsaking our sins and not letting anything come between us and Christ.  Seeking the Lord’s forgiveness and help with sins and temptations is how we are purified.  “No man can serve two masters” and God wants us focused on the most wonderful, loving and perfect master of all-His Son.

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Honeymoon’s Not Over

The title may sound like this is about marital bliss-but it’s really about life bliss.  I was reading “Yearning for the Living God” by Enzio Busche-one of my favorite books.  He grew up in Germany during World War 2 and shares his upbringing and conversion to the gospel.  As a young boy, he studied Goethe and other philosophers of the Enlightenment.  He says in his book, “something that Goethe wrote had a profound effect on me later, when I was seventeen or eighteen years old.  I learned that two years before Goethe’s death, when he was about eighty years old, he made a statement that the times in his life when he was so happy that he wanted that moment to stay had only lasted a few seconds.  I remember being shocked by that statement because I had always harbored the hope that one day I would receive lasting joy that would penetrate my whole being to the point that every minute of life would be enjoyable…When I learned of the feelings expressed by Goethe, who literally had achieved everything in this life that a person can achieve-in academics, in reputation, in opportunities to travel, in wealth, in love and admiration from myriad people-it brought a feeling of discouragement into my life.  I repeatedly asked myself, “What chance do I have to be filled with joy when even Goethe did not have that opportunity?  Not until I became embraced by the light of Christ as a member of His Church did I learn the truth-that as children of a loving Heavenly Father, all human beings might have joy.  As explained in the Book of Mormon, ‘Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy’ (2 Nephi 2:25).  Early in my Church membership, this truth penetrated my soul, and I came to realize that true joy comes only through developing the reality of closeness with the living God.”  

This has been on my mind since I read it the other night.  As I look back on my life, the times of sheer joy have come when I feel very close to God.  When I was eighteen, I went to China for a few months.  I brought my scriptures with me and decided to read the Book of Mormon for the first time.  I couldn’t put it down.  My life lit up with the light of Christ.  The Spirit filled me with hope and joy.  I grew closer to Christ than I ever had been.  I believed in Jesus and Heavenly Father before this-I knew they were real.  But I felt the Spirit in my life stronger than ever before.  That was a turning point in my life and was the first of (hopefully many) reborn experiences.  This helped me at a time when I was making many decisions that would affect me forever.  I look back and remember feeling on top of the world-for quite some time.  Then I started to get busy.  I believed in the Savior and the scriptures, but I just got busy over the years.  Scripture study became a checklist item to get it over with so I could go about my day.  I would often save “spiritual time” for the end of the day or just not get to it at all, blaming it on exhaustion.  Tomorrow I’ll take the time.  Tomorrow I’ll pray long and sincerely.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.  I kept going through the motions.  I didn’t doubt God’s existence in my life, but without taking the time to really know Him and feel close to Him, I started to believe the deceptions of the devil.  When my whole day was spent just getting through and desperately wanting to be somebody, I couldn’t see that I was already someone great.  That I had a wonderful life and it was right here.  That God loved me deeply and being close to Him could help me shine and bring beauty, love and joy to my life.  But I wouldn’t let the Spirit in, “Not now,”  I would say, “I’m too busy.  Wait until life calms down and I have a minute to breath.  Wait until I take care of this or that.  Then I’ll take the time for spiritual.”

Then God got my attention.  I am so grateful he got my attention!  I wish I could say I came to Him and put down all my worldly treasures that were really just dead weight.  But I was compelled.  And I will forever be grateful for Him compelling me to listen.  He told me I was enough and that all the fear, guilt, shame, and inadequacies came from the devil.  His message to my heart started out with a glimmer of hope-a ray of light.  I wanted to believe it and deep down I knew it was true.  But I was deceived for so long into thinking my worth came from anything and everything else.  I compared myself to everyone.  I wanted to please everyone.  God showed me that He loves me and everyone no matter what we are choosing.  I just needed to come to Him to see things as they really were.  His message has been growing within me ever since.  I see how much I love Him and need Him.  I praise Him and thank Him and just can’t get enough of Him!  I can’t save Him for the end of the day!  That was crazy-I need Him all day.  The Spirit isn’t an afterthought-it can be in every thought.  I want this joy all the time.  For years my life felt hard and discouraging-with moments here and there of sheer joy.  Now I feel joy so often-that the moments here and there of discouragement aren’t consuming me anymore.  But I know I have to come to Him.  The deceptions start so small.  I want to be wrapped in His love so He will keep me focused on why I am here, and what really matters.

There’s a saying that “we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.”  As I immerse my life and thoughts in the spiritual-this really resonates with me.  Life is so much more than the mundane and the distractions.  I’ve found it can be deeply meaningful and filled with love.  When most of my thoughts and time is spent on the spiritual, the negative things in life are so small.  Yearning for God has helped me free up a lot of time and energy I spent on things that just don’t matter.  I was so afraid to let go of what I thought made me someone.  Afraid to let go of what would (eventually) make me happy.  Yet God has been giving me happiness now.  We can have joy right now and every day-I love it.  He is teaching me to let go and have faith.  We are here to have joy.