Sunday, May 29, 2011

Trusting and Recording the Counsel and Comfort of the Lord

May 26, 2011

Morning pages, as I learned to call them from Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, don’t have to just be done in the morning. They can be an act of getting in touch with your own truth and in tune with God’s truth at any time in the day that you can take a few minutes out to retreat and relax and hang out “unto” Him–turn your attention to your truth and His.

In other words, they are a place that you can retreat to and get down and get honest with yourself and God as you best understand God. You can tell God your truth from your finite perspective–admitting that it is definitely finite, but that it’s the best you’ve got at the moment. You can allow God–if you will trust that God is interested enough and close enough (don’t forget the kingdom of God is within you), intimate enough, and kind enough to “whisper” to you through the “still, small voice” of the Spirit–to put thoughts into your mind. Kind thoughts. Patient thoughts. Wise thoughts. Compassionate thoughts toward you and toward all. Understanding thoughts–giving you counsel and guidance, comfort and solace that you will be surprised by, in awe of, and will not be able to go away thinking you came up with on your own.

If you use a quote from the scriptures, the prophets, or other inspiring text to jump start your own thoughts and your exchange with the Lord–that’s what many people call “capturing.” In reality, it could all be considered capturing as in capturing and “pinning down” what you’re needing to admit (your truth) and what the Lord wants to share with you if you are willing to believe He can and will.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Embracing Christ's Sacrifice for My Sins

Some years ago, the Spirit opened to my mind a "vision" (in my mind's eye, in the eyes of my understanding). It happened as I was musing, pondering over the testimony of King Benjamin in Mosiah 5 about my need to become a daughter of Christ. Then, while that thought was still sharp in my mind, it was "cross-referenced" in my memory with the words of Mosiah 15:10-12 (see verses below) concerning how only when His soul is made an offering for one's sins could a person become "his seed."

While pondering the overlapping imagery of these two scriptures--becoming a daughter of Christ on the one hand and becoming "his seed" on the other hand--it was as if a picture opened up to my mind, a snippet of imagination (like a few seconds of a video clip).  I seemed to see myself, standing in the middle of the scene from the Savior's last hours when He has been brought before Pilate and the crowds were crying out, demanding, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"  What was even more startling to me was to perceive that I was also speaking the same words in a heart-rending whisper, "Yes, please.  Please crucify Him."

For an instant I was horrified at the thought.  Surely, this must be an evil imagination put into my mind by the devil!  But, then, just as instantly, I realized that tears were streaming down my face--tears of love and tears of staggering grief all at the  same time--and that my plea for Him to be crucified was not borne from a heart filled with rejection and misunderstanding of who He was like the people in the crowd.  My sobbing plea was welling up out my heart where I knew with a crucifying like certainty that if I did not allow Him to be offered as a sacrifice for my sin, I would be forever shut out from the Presence of God.

As this "vision" closed in my mind, I put my head down on my desk and found myself sobbing real tears because I knew that at some point in my premortal past, I had to have uttered words of consent to our Heavenly Father and asked that Jesus be crucified for me so that I might be rescued from my otherwise lost and fallen state.

Even at this moment, as I share these words and personal realities, I am reduced to tears. I cannot come near this sacred truth, shocking as it still feels to my soul, without being crushed with reverence for "my Jesus," and for our (mutual) Father Who sent Him to do this very deed for me.  It is I have to wonder if this may be what other Christians mean when they say they "embrace the cross of Christ."

When this kind of conversion sinks into one's heart, the living of the outward performances (the law) is swallowed up in the Spirit of Love overwhelming love that brings you to your knees not in duty to God, but in knee buckling awe and adoration for Them both Father and Son (and of course, the precious Holy Spirit that quickens our minds and lifts our imaginations as on eagle's wings.)

Mosiah 15:10-12
10 And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?
11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
12 For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not Assignments to Fulfill, but Promises to Trust

As I awoke earlier this morning and spent my first hour of this new day in counsel with Him, He gave me a list of promises (sort of like Benjamin's in Mosiah 4:12-16). Not assignments to fulfill, but promises He was offering me--if I would look to Him and put all my faith IN HIM, and have hope IN HIM and love Him first above all others, then I would be empowered through His grace to do things that I could never do on my own.

You see, without God, I am nothing. Or in other words, I am such a mystic/spiritually minded, spiritually oriented person. What those words mean to me is that I can't survive in this world without giving absolutely TOP priority to the spiritual dimension of life. If I don't look to God to live, I slide into such sorrow and despair over all that is going on in this world today. I don't know how anyone else is surviving, considering the way virtually all earthly sources of security are failing or threatening to fail at any minute. To me there is no hope but in my personal communion with God--both my Father and my Savior.

I prayed to my Father for the Gift of the Holy Ghost--expressing that it was THE one gift that I desired more than any earthly thing this morning, and almost in an instant the words (thoughts) of peace and comfort and counsel from "my Jesus" (see 2 Nephi 33:6) began to come to my mind and that hope and peace that makes no sense (that “passeth understanding"–Philipians 4:7) under the present circumstances--started to flow into my soul. I felt my body and my mind relax at the sound of the Master's voice, the touch of the Master's hand. And I rejoice to declare with Paul:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Shall Separate Us from the Love of Christ? (Romans 8:35)

My capturing of Romans 8:35, written May 15, 2011:

In other words: Who shall I allow to separate me from the love I have from and for the Lord Jesus Christ?

In other words: Whose opinion of me, interpretation of me, definition, estimation, analysis of me will I allow to separate me from His opinion, interpretation, definition, estimation of me?

And in the spirit of humility and inventory, I see that THAT is exactly what I've been doing, and I am filled with the desire to cry out to Him, with tears (just as the father did in Mark 9) and beg Him to forgive me and accept my imperfect trust/faith/believe in His words to me, of His testimony of me.

I pray for His forgiveness and it is given before I can finish asking, and I marvel at that. I say to Him, "Dearest Lord God--beloved Savior, holy Jesus--I am humbled and pierced through to my heart and with tears I cry out to Thee and pray for Thy mercy and forgiveness. And before I can even finish the thought, much less the words, I find the reason already gone. I come to the end of the sentence and already find no reason--as if it wasn't necessary. Please, Lord, I am certainly not trying to assume or pretend that I am in no need of forgiveness. I know that I am in need of Thy mercy and Thy patience and thus, Thy forgiveness, always."

And I perceived (heard with my spiritual ears--D&C 136:32) Him answer me, "Colleen, and just as often--always--you live in a state of forgiveness, of mercy, of grace. All it takes to bring it to your consciousness is your faith in My word, in My love for you."

And I replied, "Then it is true what some teach, that we are already in a state of redemption because of Your goodness and mercy toward us?"

And I perceived Him answer me, "Yes, it is true. It is true that everything that any of you do that is done in childish ignorance, due to spiritual immaturity is already forgiven. That is what is testified of in these words: Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me. (Mosiah 26:30)

And in the eyes of my understanding, I seemed to see this truth: That the difference between the exact same act being considered a "sin" or considered a "transgression" is the degree of spiritual maturity of the person doing the act. How foolishly (childishly) are they making the choice or how maturely (knowing God and doing the act anyway, not out of foolish weakness, but out of deliberate choice)? This isn't a matter of me "knowing better" (having been told by someone not to choose as I did). This difference between my choice being a sin or being a transgression is how much do I desire in my heart to be one of those Christ can refer to as "my people." If I desire to be one of His--as Mosiah 5 puts it, "a son or daughter" of Christ--and I do the act compulsively, (i.e. foolishly, childishly), then it is a transgression, not a sin. It is the act of a weak and still stumbling child, and in His longsuffering and patience toward me He forgives it, even I would forgive a toddler's stumbles and falls.

Thus, I have come to know Him (His character) and to know by His own testimony to me that no one else's opinion of me (faith in me) matters more than His faith in me--which He has an infinite degree of. So, whose opinion of me, whose faith or lack of faith in me, will I choose to mean more to me than His?

I pray to continue to progress towards being able to answer that question firmly: No one shall separate me from the love Christ has expressed toward me nor from the love I have awakened to for Him. In His love for and faith in me, I am held firm, and in my love for and faith in Him, I am secure, sufficient, safe, and sane.

And I pray that my periods of forgetting to cleave unto Him as He desires to cleave unto me (Jacob 6:5) will grow shorter and fewer as I practice having this degree, His degree, of forgiveness (instantaneous) and faith in me.