Sunday, February 27, 2011

When Did I Get to Be So "Mystical" (Spiritually-minded?)

It started before I was born. That's what I learned from LDS doctrine after I became a Mormon. Up until learning that I had a premortal life, all I knew was what I felt in my core and recorded in a flimsy (and long lost) spiral notebook when I was about 13 (1 year before I ever even heard of the LDS faith):

I know that I've lived in a world, somewhere, other than this world. A world where there was no hate and cruelty and loneliness. I feel so homesick for that world sometimes.

Actually, it was well before 13 that my mystic inclinations began manifesting in me. In A Voice from the Fire I wrote this about two of my earliest childhood memories:

My first sense of the mystical life, though of course I didn't know what to call it back then, came to me at about five years of age . . . Already seeking that Something I could feel pulsating in and through all things, [I spent hours in the "three-foot-tall spring grass in the fields near my parents' house"] . . . and "I found my first awareness of heaven, since falling to earth." (p.47)

And again, on page 48, I wrote:

Some nights . . . I would haul a blanket and pillow out onto the lawn and lie on my back and let the infinite come down out of the stars and cover me . . .I was loved and I knew it. . . . The UNKNOWN GOD whom Paul preached to the men of Athens introduced Himself to me long before I knew His name, or knew that someday, I would be called by His name (Mosiah 5:7)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Words of Eternal Life (Christ's own words) Are Available to Every Believing Heart

These are not just the printed scriptures. Those are definitely “the words of eternal life,” or in other words, “the words of Christ,” given to those prophets through the Holy Ghost. (See 2 Nephi 32:3.) But the amazing thing is that we can receive the “words of eternal life,” (the words of Christ) through the Holy Ghost directly to our own minds and hearts. This is the principle of personal revelation–and it is the foundation principle of the entire Restoration of Christ’s true church in these latter-days.

This is what it means to be “spiritually-minded,” as it is so plainly stated in 2 Nephi 9:39– “Remember, to be carnally–minded is death, and to be spiritually–minded is life eternal.”

The Lord, Himself, stated it again in John 5:39–“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

And they are they which testify of Him, of His goodness, of His generosity and willingness to come to us and guide us one-one-one through His direct Spirit/Light and also through the Holy Ghost. What greater gift can there a person receive from and through the Holy Spirit than to hear even more clearly the “words of Christ” which words will tell us in all things “what ye should do.” (See 2 Nephi 32:3 again.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Savoring the Word of the Lord This Morning, part 3

And as I came to this point, I saw with sharpness (plainness, clarity) that in all these things, there is no mention of any one doing any righteousness of their own. Even in Nephi’s psalm, he is asking the Lord to do the delivering, the redeeming, the saving, the rescuing. Nephi is not thinking in terms, even for a second, of saving himself–except in one way: in trusting in the Lord. That is the perfect use of the will. To give my whole soul as an offering unto Jesus Christ (Omni 1:26). My whole soul–body, spirit, mind, heart. This is the ultimate meaning of “the pure love of Christ,” – to give ourselves without reservation to Him, so that through His grace and power He can sanctify us and purify us by His living presence indwelling in us through the Holy Spirit. He, even Jesus Christ–in Spirit and in Truth–is the Holy Spirit’s greatest, highest and purest manifestation in us. This is what He, Christ meant, when He spoke of the Holy Ghost in John 14:16-17 and then immediately promised to come unto us Himself in verse 18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

In and through the Holy Ghost, a being of spirit who can dwell in us, we have the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, if we will just believe and receive His offer. And through Him, of course, we are made one with our Father in Heaven in at least a portion of that oneness that we will inherit a fullness of in the eternal future.

The only thing that can stop us from that outcome is our own choice, just as we are taught in D&C 88:32.

32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

Well, it has been over two hours and over three pages since I began to record this morning’s prayer and communion with the Lord through the blessing of the scriptures and of capturing (opening my mind and heart to His Spirit and the thoughts, insights and wisdom He is so eager to share with any of us). I will end here, though it is an “artificial” end. Why? Because in truth, there is no end to His words (Moses 1:38) and His willingness to share with us all that we are willing and ready to receive from Him. (See Joseph Smith, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 350; Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Relief Society and Priesthood manual), p. 268-269.)

I share this morning’s sweetness and richness without fear–looking to Him and His glory, and none of my own, for without Him I am reduced to a state of 100% hopelessness and bondage, because you see, I am an addict or in other words, I am one of those thoroughly mortal people most familiar with the bondage of the Liar. Without frequent–as close to continuous as I will humble myself to seek it–conscious contact with God, I am instantly set upon by a legion of fears and other lying influences. As President Benson once put it, I cannot survive on a “lukewarm” connection to God. (See President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Great Commandment——Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 4.)

I have no hope but to seek the Holy Ghost with all my heart and through Him cling to Jesus Christ like a drowning person would cling to her rescuer.

I offer this living, in-this-hour testimony in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Savoring the Word of the Lord This Morning, part 2

And now, here I am following my heart to sup and savor on another verse and allow the sweetness of my Savior’s words flow to me through it. And with joy I find that it is a verse from the precious Book of Mormon. I could not bring just the one verse. The surrounding verses (2 Nephi 4:31-34) are so delicious to my soul. Why? Because through them, the great prophet Nephi teaches me by precept and by example the way I (and we all) need to relate to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Deliverer and our Redeemer and our God:

31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

And using Nephi’s words as my guide, I pray, even as one with Nephi, even as one with Alma (Alma 36:18), even as one with the Nephites who He dwelt in the midst of (Nephi 19:25) for He dwells just as surely in my “midst,” or in other words in my heart.

31 Oh, Lord Jesus, wilt Thou redeem my soul (body as well as spirit)? Wilt Thou deliver me out of the hands of my weaknesses, my addictions and in influence of my fallen nature represented by the corruptible blood that carries mortal influences throughout my body? Wilt Thou most literally, shake me within, dear Lord, at even the appearance in my mind of the temptation to separate myself from Thy heart and mind and will for me.

32 May the gates of hell–the influence and enticing of the Liar, Satan, be shut continually before me, dear Lord–through the intervention of Thee and of Thy righteousness. Allow me, O Lord, to walk always within the gates, within the bounds, the safety of Thy righteousness. Let me never forget that it is Thy righteousness and none of my own that will keep me in the degree of humility and strictness of the plain path I must follow in regards to my addiction. I see once again, Lord, that it is only in Thee that I can find the humility to be satisfied with a life of such plainness and strictness around my weaknesses.

33 And thus I must cry out unto Thee, dearest Christ Jesus–even as Nephi, even as Alma and even as all others who have come to know their own destitution without Thee. O Lord, wilt Thou encircle me about in the robes of Thy righteousness, for my life has proven that I have no righteousness–no ability to chose the right–that can ever triumph over my enemies–Satan’s legions? Wilt Thou make my path straight before me and empower me–in Thy grace and Thy righteousness to walk it? Wilt Thou bless me to never forget that is not through a single merit of my own that any good work is done, but wholly through Thy merits and Thy power that I am empowered to chose the right? Wilt Thou bless me to never forget that there is no safety and no hope and no comfort that can keep me safe from Satan’s desire to drag me down into hell even from this moment except to cleave to Thee and allow Thee to hold me close to Thy heart within Thine own robes. Wilt Thou keep me safe from wandering even one step away from Thee, dear Jesus, for immediately I find myself stumbling and falling over the fearful thoughts my enemies taunt and torment me with. Wilt Thou hedge up the ways of my enemies, dear Lord? Wilt Thou keep them from reaching me with their lies?

34 O Lord, I have trusted in Thee! I see that so plainly now. I trusted in Thee and followed Thee into this mortality just as is symbolized by Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8:5-8. And just as Lehi, I have also traveled for “many hours in darkness,” until I did become desperate enough to cry out unto Thee, my Savior, and open a channel of communication with Thee heart to heart. Oh Lord, I will accept Thy invitation, Thy longing plea to me to receive Thee and surrender to Thee as my Lord and my God and allow Thee to rule and reign over me in and through Thy heart which Thou hast placed in me, even as Thou promised in Ezekiel 36:26-27:

26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

To be continued . . .

Savoring the Word of the Lord This Morning, part 1

February 1, 2011

7:14 a.m. I woke up about 15 minutes ago and began to pray with my first conscious thoughts–or within seconds of coming conscious and realizing that I had the gift of yet one more day in this life. I prayed unto the Father in the Name of Christ and asked for that which I most desire–personal revelation of Christ’s words and heart and mind and will to me today. Feeling the sweet indwelling warmth of the Holy Spirit’s abiding companionship, I was assured that in His presence I enjoy atonement with the Son in Spirit and in Truth, and through Him with the Father of us all–the Most High God.

And immediately, I prayed to have a knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry it out given to me. I prayed to know, “Lord, what would Thou have me do?” and immediately the answer came, “Follow your heart, Colleen!” With authority, with finality–and I knew God could not lie. And before I could be set upon by fearful, lying influences and the fearful thoughts they whisper, I both heard and saw the Truth: “I am your heart, Colleen!” And suddenly my heart filled with the fire of God, of Christ. No, it did more than fill with Him. That’s not enough “as one.” That is two one inside the other. That is not atonement. Atonement is becoming as one. It is becoming as much of a celestial being as I can stand to be under the present veiled, muffled circumstances. It is the ultimate meaning of becoming the best person I can be.

“Follow you heart, Colleen, means the exact same thing as follow Me. Take no counsel from the Liar. Take no counsel from anyone. Believe your heart and follow it in meekness and in power. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. I have given you flesh dedicated to following Me, dedicated to following you in Me and Me in You–our atonement. Do not give another thought to the opinions of men, lean not onto the arm of flesh or onto thine own understanding.”

Lord, I am filled with desire to savor and sup deeply from the verses in which those thoughts are treasured up and showcased.

“Do so, Beloved Friend.”

I find the first in 2 Chronicles 32: 7-8 –

7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:

8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

I hear Christ open these verses and speak to me through them:

“Colleen, be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed by the Enemy, Satan, nor the multitude that he has persuaded to believe him, for in Me and your giving your heart to me to be my dwelling place, my abode, you have all the powers of God and Godliness that are expedient for you and that you can bear while yet in mortality. Do not put your time or attention on the counsel of humanistic (arm of flesh) counselors and “experts.” Turn to Me and seek My counsel and My wisdom, and I, the Lord your God will go before you and fight your battles. I invite you, my dear sister, daughter and friend to enter into My rest from this time henceforth until time is no more and you are received into a fulness of My rest and my glory in heaven.”

And I answered Him, still hesitating a little, still wondering how it could possibly be true that someone as flawed and imperfect as myself could be blessed with this fullness of rescue, of redemption, of recovery, of atonement, even while still mortal, “Lord, how is this done?” And I saw nothing but Him, felt nothing but His goodness and mercy, His patience, His kindness, His faith in me, His love of me, His adoration, in fact, of me. As a Father would adore His infant child and give His life to save hers. And I had my answer and ceased to give any attention to the Father of Lies and rested in the robes of Christ’s Light, of Christ’s Spirit, of Christ’s righteousness and came here to this computer and began recording this journal entry.

To be continued in part 2 . . .