I talked about how I began at the age of 7 years protecting myself from the pains of this world. I also shared a dream in which, as a result of years of “protection”, I found myself unable to give myself completely to the service of the Lord.
I have another dream to share today. In this dream, I was in a small city and for some unknown reason (as so often happens in dreams) I found myself burying approximately 3 dozen victims of a massacre that had occurred in the city. To make a very long story short, the result of this experience was that I found myself weeping for the dead and because of the hatred and violence going on around me. It felt good to cry! Really good!
I also had an experience recently where I felt the spirit had abandoned me. I felt edgy for 2 days – just not at peace. I couldn’t understand it, until during my prayers I realized that I had engaged in two contentious interactions during the week. Now, whether this was an orchestrated lesson from the Lord or not, I’ve chosen to incorporate into my life the following lessons:
1) I have gotten awfully used to having the spirit abide with me over the past 15 years, and I DO NOT ever want to live without it. I DID NOT like the feeling that I had over those two days.
2) The spirit is becoming less and less tolerant of contention in my life. I have apparently grown to the point that I must shun contention or risk losing the spirit, because He will not abide it.
These recent experiences, revelations, and discoveries set me to thinking: How do we live in this world of hatred and lies and not be emotionally crushed by it all? How do we refrain from sobbing constantly when we hear about children, innocent before God and man, who are starving, murdered, beaten, or sexually or emotionally abused? How do we absorb the daily stories of hatred and prejudice that result in genocide, murders, and war between nations, without rising up and shouting, “No! This is not who we are, and I refuse to accept it!” How do we tolerate acts of desperation that result in lives ruined by addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, gambling and/or pornography without reaching out in compassion and trying to heal each scarred soul?
Well, most of us can’t, and I now think I understand that this is what it means to live in a telestial existence, and I don’t like it! I may not be able to do much about it, but I don’t have to like it. I’m not supposed to like it! I’ve bemoaned that I can’t give my heart to the Lord – that I am bound in chains of my own creation, but I now realize that this is just a natural protective response to living in this existence. This telestial world I have described is Satan’s world. He has filled it with so much that is completely contrary to who we are that it is impossible to not be soiled by it. We have been told that there must be opposition in all things, but Satan has created in this telestial existence the great opposition – opposition to all that is good and right – he has created hatred and desperation in opposition to love.
I understand so much all of a sudden! It is not only the sins that we commit that stain our garments, it is also the tolerance of sin that stains us – kind of like second-hand smoke. Whether you smoke or not, you walk out with the smell clinging to you. Consider if you were an Israelite when Moses came down from Sinai the first time. You may have had no direct participation in the golden calf orgy, but you couldn’t help but feel a little dirty in the face of Moses’ powerful indignation. So it is today. We know who we are – who we’re supposed to be, but it’s hard to keep focused on “becoming” in face of the sheer magnitude of the evil around us. The chains that bind our hearts are forged not only by our own sins, but also by the sins that swirl around us. We can hardly avoid it – we cannot be saved!
But, we CAN be saved! We can be cleansed through the power of the atonement! We can be saved from our own sins and from the sins of this generation. We can break the chains that insidiously bind us to the adversary. We can open our calloused hearts, trust in the Savior’s love, and become the caring, compassionate souls that we were created to be. We can become perfect (Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) …….and we can have charity (1 Corinthians 13). In order to do so, however, we must not only accept the gift of the atonement, we must ask for it, we must strive for it; we must aggressively, even desperately, seek it. In doing so, we can be anxiously engaged in overcoming the telestial and seeking the terrestrial in this life.
The scriptures teach us this, but I just didn’t recognize it until now – or at least I didn’t think of it in these terms. I’ve always considered the definitions of telestial and terrestrial to be the eternal kingdoms described in D&C 76 where those who were not valiant in their testimony of Christ are consigned to spend eternity. However, I’ve come across things that suggest an alternate, but not contrary definition. For example, Moses 6:48- 49 says:
And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe.
Behold Satan hath come among the children of men and tempteth them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God.
The fall was a fall from a terrestrial existence, certainly not a celestial state, but where nevertheless Adam enjoyed the companionship and instruction of the Lord. The fall was to a telestial existence, where men became carnal, sensual and devilish.
Christ’s healing miracles as recorded in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon are illustrative of the ability of the atonement to overcome the curses of the telestial world that we currently endure. By reversing the infirmities and inflictions common to the less fortunate souls in the meridian of time, Christ demonstrated His power to overcome all the effects of life under the rule of Satan. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the Sermon at the Temple (3 Nephi 12-14) contrast the commandments of the telestial world – the ten commandments, the law of Moses – with the glorious laws of the terrestrial.
3 Nephi, chapter 17 offers several clues to further understanding. At this time, Christ had still not yet ascended to His father. I suggest that His existence at this time was terrestrial. Verse 14 says:
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.
From his terrestrial state of existence, he could scarcely tolerate the wickedness associated with the telestial world that He had condescended into – and he groaned. This recalls the story of Enoch’s vision described in Moses 7:48 when he heard a voice projected from the bowels of the earth, saying,
…….Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?
This season of righteousness abiding upon her face, prior to her receiving her paradisiacal glory, would necessarily imply an interim state of righteousness and perfection – a terrestrial state.
Continuing in 3 Nephi 17:15-17:
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 hear 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.
The multitude was overcome! The things that Jesus prayed were other-worldy – offered in a context that is beyond the paradigms of the existence we know. And then came the spectacle of the children as described in verses 23-24:
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.
The children; only the children – perfect in their innocence – were able to experience the terrestrial manifestations of the fire from Heaven and the ministering of angels.
Why is this an important point? For me it’s important because I now realize that it is quite understandable for me to have forged chains around my heart and to struggle with feeling the depths of emotion that I somehow know should be there. I am a stranger in a strange land – a terrestrial (not yet celestial) being stuck in a telestial world. I must pass through the terrestrial before I can reach the celestial. I must awaken to my potential – to who I really am – and aspire to, even gain, a terrestrial existence before I can even hope to qualify for an eternal celestial existence.
The most important point, I think, is that I begin striving for the terrestrial in this life. Although I can’t physically reject the telestial, I can do so spiritually. To do so, I must lay hold of our Savior’s atonement and prepare in this life to receive the blessings of the terrestrial; blessings which ultimately include the ministering of angels, baptism by fire, receiving our calling and election and seeing the face of the Lord Himself. In this way, I can rise above the curse of the telestial existence in this life so that I can glorify our God by attaining a terrestrial state of being. Then, maybe I can cry.
Note: This is a message of hope offered in contrast to the pain and suffering that surrounds us. The following link is one that I think you might find quite uplifting, and is someone in line with this post.