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Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Ultimate Cure for Loneliness

If there's one thing each of us have in common, it's that we will encounter loneliness in our lives.

For some, it can be a temporary bout.  For others, loneliness may stretch weeks or months. For others, it can be years...or longer.

A few weeks ago, I encountered my own bout of loneliness. Compared with what others go through on a daily basis, it was nothing.  But for me, the acuteness of the loneliness was intolerable.

For me, the solution involved getting on my knees and saying to God, "I don't want this feeling anymore. I don't like it. So, I'm giving it to you, ok? This is *your* problem, your burden now.  And I wouldn't advise letting it hang around very long."  Interestingly, the actual cause of the feelings of loneliness hasn't dissipated.  Instead, God has enhanced my ability to cope with it.

Such is how God treats His children. Sometimes, God calms the storm.  Other times, He lets the storm rage, and calms His child.

That's definitely the case with one of my friends, who has been alone - separated from their spouse, who died - for decades.  This friend enjoys a very remarkable, highly intimate relationship with the Savior.  Here's how they cope with loneliness:

"I have been on my own for many years. There are times I feel lonely but most of the time I don't. Being by myself gives me the time to get close to and stay close to my Heavenly Father. Spirituality is so very important to me. I constantly have a 'conversation' going with Father. The blessings are enormous when a person spends most of their time with God. The veil thins, which gives way to experiencing those on the other side of the veil that accompany us and assist us with everything. When I live so that the spirit can attend me regularly, the feelings of joy, peace, love, security, protection, etc. is what I feel wrapped in. The times I feel lonely, I usually have lost my focus on the Lord. The feelings that come with that are so different and uncomfortable I 'run back' to Father!! My experience in my life has taught me that the Lord totally covers all the areas in my life and fills in the blank or empty spots.  In my life, the Lord has 'filled in the blanks' with His matchless love, tender mercies, long suffering, patience, strength and power. I know I can trust Him with every single thing, whatever it is. There is nothing I can't talk to Him about, even my sins, and have His love and help. He is less than a thought away!"

The next time you feel tempted to feel lonely, highly consider asking God to either calm the storm, or calm you.  Either way, place the burdens on Him who is only a thought away and "mighty to save".

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Salvation's Simple Formula

3,000 (or so) years ago,

"...the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." (Numbers 21:6-9)

This is such a relevant story, that even the Lord mentioned it in the two verses right before John 3:16 (the most popular salvation verse in the Bible).

It seems like today, not much has changed.  True, we have prophets and apostles, quad scriptures and multilingually-translated general conferences.  But we also have programs, policies, practices, traditions, manuals, websites, memos, handbooks and guidebooks.  I personally know many who have held significant church leadership positions for decades who almost unanimously say it's a struggle to keep up with it all.

Is it any wonder Pres. Dieter F. Uchdorf recently stated,
"We human beings have a strange tendency to complicate simple things. We set up rules, laws, bylaws, processes, and subprocesses. Eventually, we pile up load after load until we end up under a huge weight of expectations that are so complicated it is difficult to keep track of them, let alone meet them.  Too often, we complicate the beauty and simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ with endless lists of meticulous expectations." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Acting on the Truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Jan. 2012 Worldwide Leadership Training)

"Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets—all helpful if used properly—can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most," October 2010 General Conference)
Although the battle of simplicity vs. complexity seemingly continues, salvation remains simple.  Like the Israelites of old, many today stumble over salvation and don't believe it, because it just seems too simple.  There's no doubt it was hard for many Israelites to believe that a simple look at a bronze snake on a pole would save them from dying, but that was the only way they could be saved.  Perhaps that's what Jesus was comparing salvation to here.

Today, it is so easy for the basic gospel message to get lost among the deluge of information that hits us from all sides. Yet amidst the multitude of voices and choices, the humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched, waiting. His is a simple message: "Come, follow me." And He does not speak with a powerful megaphone but with a still, small voice.

I know many who wish there was a simple formula they could rely upon to grow closer to Christ.  I understand how they feel.

Might I recommend one simple, single, solitary verse of scripture that might help you cut through all the programs and policies, processes and subprocesses (which we latter-day saints are so adept at creating) in helping you establish and maintain a truly intimate, personal and continual relationship with the Savior?

Here's my nomination.  Read, enjoy, and bask in its simplicity.

Your thoughts?