This morning I prayed, as I’m sure most of you do, for the people I know who are struggling in their lives – all of them more than I by a great margin. I prayed for beloved family members. I prayed for forgiveness and patience. I prayed a prayer of gratitude for the comforts I enjoy, acknowledging that the day may come very soon when many of those comforts – a warm bed, a soft pillow, my ever-so-sweetly snoring wife, have become distant memories. (You will NEVER become a distant memory, Sweetie) This is not intended to be taken as a prophecy or anything of the sort – just my own way of preparing for changes that most assuredly will come in my life time.
Then, I prayed for something I’ve never prayed for at any other time. The Lord has frequently granted me wisdom and understanding in answer to my inquiries about specific topics. I have prayed about Joseph Smith, the Church and its leaders, the Holy Ghost, baptism, the priesthood, family members, “current affairs”, etc. The list could go on. I have learned much, but more than anything I have been given an awareness of how little I know. So, today, I just asked the Lord to teach me what He would have me learn, that I might serve Him better. The answer I received was truly a beautiful thing. It is very significant that this thing that he would have me learn – that which would help me serve him better – was not about any of the things I mentioned above. It was simply about Him.
I should make it clear that this teaching was really more like putting together the pieces of a puzzle; a puzzle whose pieces I had received over – well, I would say over the past 2-3 months. For example, I have thought much recently about the concept of entropy, which is defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary as:
a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity
b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
It had previously occurred to me that this, the tendency of all matter (D&C 131:7), unless acted upon by an outside binding force, to descend into disorder or chaos, could very well describe the fall. Death, or decay unto death, was introduced with the fall. Creation is the organization of matter by the power of the priesthood, or the power of love – God’s love, or His glory. The fall, or the separation from God – the binding, organizing force of creation – allows entropy to reign supreme. Creation is stable, as long as it continues to be influenced or acted upon by God’s creative power – His love and glory; but when separated from Him, it becomes subject to the forces of entropy and must therefore gradually decay. This begs the question, “Decay into what?” I suggest that it would decay into “an ultimate state of inert uniformity”, a state where opposition, therefore, has ceased to exist, and:
…all things must needs be a compound in one (inert uniformity); wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death…Wherefore it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. (2 Nephi 2:11-12)
According to Lehi’s description, all matter would be reduced by decay to its lowest form…in other words, outer darkness. This, again, is the effect of the fall, or separation from God. It will be our doom, if we are not, through some force, reunited with God that we may be availed of His binding force.
What is the antidote to this inevitable decay into outer darkness? That would be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is through Him that the binding, organizing power of God comes to this fallen, telestial world. It is through the power of the atonement that Christ overcomes the effects of the fall. It is He who brought into this world the seed of God’s glory, which was bestowed upon Him grace for grace (D&C 93:12). Reference, if you will, my previous post on Section 93. More from that section:
Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.
And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation. (D&C 93:29-32 – emphasis mine)
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
Light and truth forsake that evil one.
Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
In other words, the glory of God – that which binds the universe (the elements) and overcomes entropy, (glory = intelligence = light and truth) is the force that redeems man from the fall. By obedience to His will, even to His being, we take unto ourselves His glory, and we are redeemed from the fall, or from entropy – even death. Through disobedience to God, we surrender light and truth, and we remain subject to the forces of entropy, or death.
The next piece of the puzzle has to do with the nature of His being. I speak now of Christ, whose glory, received from the father, is the binding force – the love and glory – that is available to us. Christ is defined by His love. I repeat. Christ is defined by His love! He is a being of light, of truth, of intelligence – a being of love. The Christian world, I’m afraid, tends to think of Him as being defined by his actions; by the miracles, the healing, the sacrifice, the resurrection, the atonement; but those are only manifestations of His love. I think that until we understand this, we do not know Him. Such a concept is, for me, very difficult to describe in words, although I know it in my heart. Nevertheless, consider the following extracts from 3 Nephi, chapter 17 (emphasis mine):
Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
…And it came to pass that when they had knelt upon the ground, Jesus groaned within himself, and said: Father, I am troubled because of the wickedness of the people of the house of Israel.
And when he had said these words, he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written, and the multitude did bear record who heard him.
And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
…And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
…And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
And when he had done this he wept again;
And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
Can you feel it? Can you feel the love leaping from these scriptures? Yes, He worked miracles of healing. Yes, he caused the heavens to open, and caused angels to come down to minister unto the children, their glory appearing to the multitude as if it were fire. But even more important, he groaned. He wept – twice; and He blessed the little children – those precious, precious children – one by one,(how many – 200? 300? 500?) and prayed unto the Father for them; then he wept again. These were not tears of sadness, these were tears of joy, for He declared, “…my joy is full”. From whence did this overwhelming joy come? It came as a result of the display of faith on behalf of each person – each man, woman, mother, father, brother, sister, and child in the multitude. I would even speculate that His joy came because He was able to truly show Himself to them, and in doing so, show them the glory – even the defining love – of His Father! How difficult, we might wonder, is it for Him when we fail to turn to Him and receive Him as they did? How long has it been since He was able to experience such a release from the burden of being rejected. Do we think He does not feel such a burden? Then we do not yet understand Him. He is truly defined by His love, and if He is unable to share it, He is unable to share Himself. Should we not consider the possibility that the burden of these billions of rejections, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, are an even greater burden, requiring an even greater sacrifice, than when He wrought the atonement itself? Perhaps not, but I think only such a comparison can help us truly begin to comprehend how horrible it must be for such a being – a being who is defined by love – to be rejected constantly by the very objects of that love.
How are We Defined
Now for the final piece of the puzzle…how are we (you and me) defined? Are we defined by our love, or are we defined by our petty jealousies and fears (D&C 67:10). Do we seek joy in our accomplishments, in the approval of men; in positions, degrees, and possessions? Are we, therefore, defined by the fall, or are we defined by the glory that we receive from Him as a result of obedience, not even so much to His commandments, but to His being. You see, it is when we have loved so much that we are defined by our love that we can truly become one with Him; that we can truly know Him:
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:20-21)
Believing on Him is to act as He would act, to love as He would love, to become love, as He became love – receiving grace for grace. When we have become to the point that we are defined by our love, that people know us by what we are – love, or the light and truth given us from the Father through Him – rather than by what we do, then are we sanctified to him, even redeemed from the fall. Then is when we will be able to pierce the veil, and lay hold of the promises of the temple endowment. I would even say this is the message of the endowment; to live our lives in such a way that we are, just as He is, defined by our love.
My Heart is Full…
…as I ponder these glorious truths. The light that shines before me grows brighter every day as He teaches and nurtures. The thought of lightening His burden, even just a little, simply because I seek to receive him in this way is beautiful beyond measure. The thought of Him experiencing just a portion of the joy that He experienced among the multitude at Bountiful fills me, in turn, with joy. To be able to return even a tiny bit of the joy He has brought me is a validating blessing, indeed. Yet, this blessing is available to each of us, simply by recognizing who and what He is. He is our redeemer from the fall, our source of all light and truth. If we will allow Him to truly show Himself to us; if we will receive Him as the being of light that He is; then might we actually become friends – even friends who bring each other joy, comfort, and peace. Then might we become friends who are one, in that we are defined by our love and not by the bonds of this telestial existence. Then will we be able to abide His presence, and He ours.
I am reminded as I close, that the lesson He chose to teach was simply about Him – about love, about obedience, about redemption. It was about becoming one with my Savior. My, how we do complicate things sometimes. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.