During my prayers today, I was reminded of something I’ve been told before…”Trust me. Relax”. This counsel first came to me in 2015, and has been repeated regularly ever since, both in the same words, and in different words. Today, it was different words. I was told to just not worry; that if suffering, discomfort, loss…even Armageddon loom in the future, it will all be passing, and represents only a pin-prick of time in the expanse of eternity.
This message is a treasure, of course, if I…if we…will fully receive it. But the next counsel was new – at least in the way it was expressed and/or in the way I received it. It was that my greatest regret, the greatest waste of my life, will be if I fail to squeeze every last ounce of joy out of my life today.
I did not take that to mean that I was supposed to go out and create mountains of joy, or pleasure. No, it was a reminder that my life today, right now, filled with joy, and that I should be recognizing it and cherishing it.
Every second, every minute, every hour.
I was reminded of my good health. I was reminded that I have love all around me – especially that unconditional love of my precious wife – and that I am in a position to both give and receive love every day. I have a job that fulfills temporal, intellectual, and even spiritual needs all in one. I have my music, friends, and comfortable, by many standards even luxurious, living circumstances.
This counsel helped me realize once again that we humans tend to spend way too much time and vital energy repenting of the past and hoping for the future, both of which prevent us from cherishing the now. Now is the greatest gift we have. The past cannot be changed, and the future cannot be controlled.
It is obvious that we can learn from the past, and we can consider the future consequences of the choices we make today. But when we allow the past to define us by wallowing in regret and guilt, we risk ignoring the only possible positive outcome of our past experiences, which is to experience the joy of who we are today.
And how many people have you known – no doubt ourselves included – who are constantly looking forward to tomorrow? “I’ll think about that tomorrow”, or “When I have more money, I’ll be happy”, or “If I’m good today…if I sacrifice and suffer…then I will experience joy after I die” – these attitudes and modes of thinking I view as common traps that prevent us from experiencing joy – from cherishing joy – today.
The past is gone, and only its lessons remain, manifest in who we are today.
The future is not yet, and will only become relevant when it becomes now. Obviously, if we never learn to cherish the “now”, the future will never become relevant, because it will always remain the future, and thus never be more than a wish, and desire, a dream. And what good are wishes, desires, or dreams if they never become reality, of if we live so completely in them that we never take the time to experience their fulfillment?
…Men are that they might have joy. 2 Nephi 2:25
It is commonly said that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I’m not sure that’s true. I think God is only the same in that God is always evolving – if only through creation. One thing I am sure of, though, is that God cannot be known, experienced, or loved in the past or in the future. God can only be known and loved in the now.
If, as Christ said in John 17:3, “…this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”, then we can only experience eternal life in the now.
Now, let’s look at some staples of religious “truth” (dogma?) in light of this understanding:
- Repentance – irrelevant, even useless, unless it leads, through lessons learned, to greater ability to experience joy, love, and knowledge of God
- Guilt – totally useless. Does nothing…absolutely nothing…to help us know God, and thus gain eternal life.
- Eternal life – no value whatsoever if not experienced…now!
- Judgment – the only judgment required is whether or not we know and love God – and in doing so, know and love all creation. Any other “judgment”, if forced upon us, only prevents us from knowing and loving God, which is completely counter to His expressed will, which has been described as “…to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”.
- Forgiveness – Forgiveness is a given. Unless the past has some sort of power of the now, or over the future, which we have established it does not, then forgiveness is unnecessary – except when we hold on to the past. So, forgiveness is acknowledging that the past has no power over the now.
- Salvation – to know and love God. That’s it. To know God, we must strip ourselves of jealousy and fear, of pride, of guilt and judgment. We must be “saved” from these things – these self-inflicted illusions that we mistake for truth. We must instead be Salvation can only be in the now, because God can only be known in the now. If salvation is always future, it will never be. Salvation is the ability to experience joy – even divine joy.
- Hell / Damnation – to be separated from God. To not know Him. To not know ourselves. To be so consumed by concerns for the past and the future that we can never know the joy of being one with God and with each other in the now.
And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
We can never know truth until we can know God, for God is truth…and light…and love. We will never be free as long as we allow ourselves to be bound by the chains of regrets of the past and fear of (or unfulfilled hope for) the future.
God loves us now!
God can only be known now!
Peace can only exist now!
We can only love now!
Given that time is counted only unto man – but that it is counted unto man – that it is our experience – if we wish to escape the bonds of time, we must neutralize those chains by maximizing the joy of now!
Now makes time irrelevant!
Men are that they might have joy.
I know – somehow I just know – that the key to unlocking the divinity within us, which is the will of God, is to be able to perceive, experience, and cherish the joy that is the purpose of our existence.
As always, these thoughts come with a disclaimer. I personally have mastered nothing. I am just as subject to the pains, sorrows, fears, uncertainties, and imperfections of this mortal experience as anyone else.
But slowly, the truth is being revealed. Patiently, I’m being taught. Gradually, I’m learning…
…To trust peacefully
…To understand more completely
…To receive more fully
…To give more freely
…To be joyful
…To be love