Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a steady effort to be true

While reading about the importance of steadfastness, how essential it is to make every possibly efforts to keep our covenants with the Lord, I came across this quote from President Heber J. Grant:

"Nobody lives up to his ideals, but if we are striving, if we are working, if we are trying, to the best of our ability, to improve day by day, then we are in the line of our duty. If we are seeking to remedy our own defect, if we are so living that we can ask God for light, for knowledge for intelligence, and about all for His spirit, that we may overcome our weaknesses, then, I can tell you, we are in the straight and narrow path that leads to life eternal; then we need have no fear." (Conference Report, April 1909)

This came, not only as a confirmation of a doctrine that I already believe -- that it is our efforts that count and not whether or not we are "perfect," but also as clarification.... Because we will inevitably make mistakes, we will inevitably fall off of the path that leads to eternal life... or so I thought. However, this quote from President Grant illustrated to me that IF I can living so that I can ask God for what I need IN ORDER TO overcome weaknesses then I am STILL in the path. My mistakes and the always ongoing-process of repentance lie within the path. (It's like what Robinson was getting at in "Following Christ" -- we only get off the path when we choose to not repent.)

Brigham Young also taught this comforting doctrine. He said: "No matter what the outward appearance is,  if I can know of a truth that the hearts of the people are fully set to do the will of their Father in heaven, though they may falter and do a great many things though the weaknesses of human nature, yet, they will be saved." (Journal of Discourses 5:256)

I have done "a great may things through the weaknesses of human nature." At times it seems to surge up and batter at my heart to think of how I've slipped... But it has given my heart new strength to know that because I am, in my soul -- in the deepest part that is me, truly devoted to God, that I will be saved. I am saved. I'm saved because I'm committed to Him. EVERY time I fall I WILL repent and try again. I will spend my whole life falling and hurting and being healed. This is my steady effort to be true to Him and return to His presence.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

love and devotion

Shakespeare wrote on of the most beautiful demonstrations of the power of love in The Merchant of Venice. Reading Portia's words for her beloved Bassanio may have inspired me in the past to seek out the person I can so freely and joyfully give my whole self to. But with the passing of time, my trials, and some help from outside sources, I've come to see that this description more aptly defines the spirit of love I ought to feel toward my Savior. (After all, the covenant relationship is often compared to a bridegroom and his bride.) This is love that brings obedience, that seeks to focus on the beloved. It is sweet and it is true devotion.

You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
    Such as I am: though for myself alone
    I would not be ambitious in my wish,
    To wish myself much better; yet, for you
    I would be trebled twenty times myself;
    A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich;
    That only to stand high in your account,
    I might in virtue, beauties, livings, friends,
    Exceed account; but the full sum of me
    Is sum of something, which, to term in gross,
    Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractised;
    Happy in this, she is not yet so old
    But she may learn; happier than this,
    She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
    Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
    Commits itself to yours to be directed,
    As from her lord, her governor, her king.
    Myself and what is mine to you and yours
    Is now converted: but now I was the lord
    Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
    Queen o'er myself: and even now, but now,
    This house, these servants and this same myself
    Are yours, my lord (Act III, scene II, Lines 150-173)

I pray to be this love and devotion.

(Inspired by S. Michael Wilcox's "House of Glory")