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Sunday, November 9, 2014

09. Walking and Talking with God, Part 8: The Perfect Alignment, Part 2

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the eighth examining the phrase "obeyeth my voice".

All of us -- including you -- have a "Spiritual Joystick".

Move it forward too much, and you're overzealous.  Move it in reverse, and you go backwards in your spiritual journey, distancing yourself from God via sin.

Yet, like any other joystick, you can also move your joystick too far to the left or to the right.

A Few Notes On Moving to the Left

I'd like you to imagine something with me.  Imagine you're one of the Israelites in Moses' time.  You are, with your family, crossing the Red Sea.  Envision what would have happened if you had veered to the left.  Undoubtedly, you would have walked right into a wall of water!  Veering to the right would have produced the same result.

Just as it's easy to see the futility that comes from hitting a wall of water, we can well imagine what would happen if we become preoccupied with knowing who we were, and what we did, prior to our mortal birth here.

Frankly, I'm disturbed by reports I hear of "blessings" people give to others which spend much time, and provide great detail, into supposed aspects of a person's pre-mortal life.  Even worse is the effect such "blessings" often have on a recipient, as they are led to believe fantastic, superhuman claims that would boggle the imagination.  True, priesthood blessings (including patriarchal blessings) may mention something about a person's premortal status.  But they neither dwell on, nor preoccupy the recipient, with ego-enhancing, "positive energy" details for dozens of minutes or paragraphs.

Why not?

It's simple.  A preoccupation with our past makes us less likely to focus on today.
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:34)
The same words, in Hebrew, are used to express the same thought in the Rabbinic Jewish saying "dyya l'tzara b'shaata (דיה לצרה בשעתה)" or, "the suffering of the (present) hour is enough for it". (Tr. Berakhot 9b)

In my opinion, anything that seeks to divert your focus from today to yesterday is doing you a grave disservice.  Don't you have enough to deal with today?  Don't you have the toils and troubles, as well as joys and blessings, that the day may bring upon you?  Don't you have the responsibilities of Christian service, and the ever-present battle with temptation?

Another Spin on Left-Joystickedness

"Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.'" (John Greenleaf Whittier)
If there's one thing we humans are good at, it's reorienting our focus onto the skeletons of our past.

We regret, we kick ourselves, we demean ourselves, we condemn ourselves.  And in the process, we (literally) add insult to injury by ignoring the commandment to judge not. Even if we have repented of a wrongdoing, we still beat ourselves up over it -- and in the process, we totally ignore the Lord's statement that "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more." (D&C 58:42)

Last week in church, I was in on a discussion about the need for us to regularly perform a self-introspection, a self-assessment of our spiritual status. I agree that such status checks can be worthwhile.  However, I also happen to know that when it comes to spirituality assessments, we tend to be our own worst enemy.
"Our first enemy we will find within ourselves. It is a good thing to overcome that enemy first and bring ourselves into subjection to the will of the Father, and into strict obedience to the principles of life and salvation which he has given to the world for the salvation of men." (Pres. Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 371–72)
And how do we "overcome that enemy first"?  We start by recognizing that
"Satan will try to make us believe that our sins are not forgiven because we can remember them. Satan is a liar; he tries to blur our vision and lead us away from the path of repentance and forgiveness. God did not promise that we would not remember our sins. Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again. But if we stay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time. This will be part of the needed healing and sanctification process." (Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Point of Safe Return", April 2007 General Conference)
We proceed on that path of healing and sanctification as we let God perform that miracle in our lives.  As you "empty your cup" and "return and report" to Him -- in fact,
"As you kneel in humility before our Father daily, tell him openly of your progress, and also of your fears and doubts. As you draw near to Him, He draws near to us. He gives us peace and encouragement. He heals our souls." (Bruce D. Porter, "Searching Inward," Ensign, Nov. 1971, 65; emphasis mine).
"Though I am weak, yet God, when prayed,
Cannot withhold his conquering aid."

In the course of my life, I have been extremely blessed to associate with some who have been in the literal presence of our Advocate, Jesus Christ.  Without exception, they described how they felt totally unworthy to be in His presence.  Yet He who is the source of light and love was reciprocally enthusiastic, and proactively forgave them of their sins.  If these friends wanted to dwell on their sinful state, the Lord would essentially encourage them by saying (and I paraphrase), "That's your choice if you want to go there.  But I think it would be best if you keep moving forward and not look behind you anymore.  I took care of all that 2,000 years ago.  But the future is up to you."

In my next post, we'll examine how easy it is to let your Spiritual Joystick veer to the right, and what you can do about it.

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