Monday, December 29, 2008

Some things I've learned about the Atonement.

  • Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "The Lord is in the details of our lives". I've come to know that is true, much more than I used to think. In the smallest things; if it matters to me, it matters to Him. For example: If a child loses a boot and prays to find it, and finds it - that is an answer to prayer - a miracle. I may feel too 'grown up', but if I lose a boot and pray to find it, I believe the Lord will help me find it - and that's a miracle, too.

  • We are taught that the Lord dealt with us, each one, in a very personal way while He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemene and on the Cross. He came to know us even more intimately that before, and because He knows and understands us, and why we do what we do, He knows exactly how to help us. I believe that He will see that the way is prepared perfectly for us if we will have the determination and courage to follow His lead, which is given to us by the Spirit directly, and through our parents and leaders

  • It seems to me the Lord does everything that He can for each one of us (His children) to help us get back to Him, short of interfering in our right to choose, our agency. It doesn't matter the mistakes we may have made or the sins we may have committed, if we will repent. What we have done will undoubtedly affect how difficult it is to get back, but it does not, I think, affect His determination to help us. He is there to keep the way open and to help us back. He'll not ever take away our right to choose, but He will do everything else that can be done to help us.

  • It is my experience that the Lord is quick to forgive. If we will repent; stop doing it, or start doing it, as the case may be, and promise to continue doing so, He will forgive us, as often as we need forgiveness. We, of course, walk on dangerous ground if we keep repenting and repeating the sin again and again - not because He gives up on us, He never will - maybe the great danger is because our habits and weaknesses grow stronger with each repetition and it becomes more difficult to change. I am convinced the Lord is quick to forgive and allow us back on the straight and narrow path.

  • So, let us suppose we repent, and are forgiven, and we are back on the path - then invariably, it seems, other things begin to happen: Satan doesn't give up! He hates us, and is clever and determined. When we repent and the Lord forgives us, satan fights even harder to turn us around and have us fail again. He will do anything to discourage us; he whispers that it's too late, we aren't worthy to be forgiven, what we've done is too serious, we've failed too many times, how could we expect the Lord to love us after what we've done. He whispers that we might as well give up - it's too late. All these awful feelings we have to deal with make us feel we're not forgiven, after all. But just maybe it is quite the contray, Might it not be that satan is angry because we have repented and the Lord has forgiven us, and he is determined to turn us around to repeat our mistakes.

  • Then, at some point as we continue to progress along the path, it is necessary for us to deal with the consequences of our past actions. Experiences related in the scriptures suggest that this may take place immediately or it might be some time before it happens. As we learn more and more we begin to realize that this process of having to deal with the consequences of our actions is a great gift, and is an important and wonderful process. It gives us a chance to 'make up' in a small way for our mistakes. It gives us a chance to do all we can to make things right with Him and other people. Sometimes it is very difficult, and it is hard to remember that, as we suffer the consequences of things we've done, we can, I believe, still be on the path - it is not an indication that we were mistaken about being forgiven - we can continue to progress and grow through it all, and our faith will sustain us and help us to know that this is a necessary part of the Plan - and I am convinced that it does not suggest that we are not forgiven.

  • And little by little as this process of repentance, forgiveness, discouragement, and dealing with the consequences takes place, the sweet feelings of confidence and peace return and we find that we really can feel truly happy, after all. And it is such a sweet and wonderful feeling.

  • The ways of the Lord are truly majestic. Peter wrote, "...we were eyewitnesses of His majesty". (2 Peter 2:16) We are all eyewitnesses of His majesty as we realize the great blessings of repentance and forgiveness.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making your bed - double meaning

I made the bed this morning. I don't do that often enough. I do make a pretty good bed though.
I think I learned during basic training in 1953. If the bed didn't satisfy the squad leader during inspection every morning it was likely you'd be on KP (Kitchen Police) that day. I didn't like KP.

The key to making a bed that will pass inspection is to start with the bottom sheet; pulled tight, no wrinkles. Then the top sheet; same rules. Then any cover that is between the top sheet and bed spread; same rule. (The bed spread in basic training was an army blanket). The next thing is to place the pillow(s), making sure they are layed nice and straight, patted down even with each other so they are nice and smooth across the bed - looks like one pillow when they're covered. Now, when the bed spread is placed it will lay nice and straight without a lot of straightening or fuss. Be sure the side and the end of the bed spread that will be most likely seen by the inspector, or others, has the edge at the right distance from the floor and nice and straight. Really quite simple; just as easy as having wrinkles and bumps. It saved me from a lot of KP.

There should be a lesson in this. Maybe it suggests that what really matters isn't what's on the surface but what is underneath. If all is well inside it will show in our words and actions, and even, or maybe especially, in our appearance.