Sunday, June 4, 2017

Am I sleeping at Gethsemane too?

I was released from my calling as a Bishop’s counselor a couple months ago.  Since my release I have really noticed a huge difference in my association with the Holy Ghost.  I have honestly found that I must work much harder to feel and keep the Spirit with me. 

I think because of this difference I have been contemplating Peter, James and John’s behavior in Gethsemane with Jesus.  It is very easy for me to wonder what in the world were they thinking and condemn them for falling asleep as the Savior began his most important work.  How could they do that?  Were they not excited to be a witness to the miracle of the atonement?

I went to the account found in Matthew 26:36-46 to see if there was more to the situation than I was considering.  I had written a cross-reference in verse 40 which took me to Luke 14:15-24, which gives the parable of the great supper.  My initial thought was that I had made a mistake of some kind in connecting these two scriptures but then I read the parable again.

15 ¶ And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall aeat bbread in the kingdom of God.

16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden,  Come; for all things are now ready.

18 And they all with one consent began to make aexcuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant,  Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the ahalt, and the blind.

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23 And the alord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and bhedges, and ccompel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

24 For I say unto you, That anone of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

This changed my focus from Peter, James and John to me and I had to ask, am I falling asleep now instead of witnessing the miracle of the atonement?  Do I make excuses when asked by the Spirit to help someone?  Am I too busy with my “life” to attend the eternal supper the Savior has offered me?

As I sat here writing this and thinking about my own weakness the Spirit whispered, “Many are called but few and chosen my friend, many are called but few are chosen.”  I had to go to D&C 121: 34-35 to remember why.

“Many are called but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen?

Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, …”

We know that week in Jerusalem was eventful and stressful, the Apostles knew something was going on but didn’t really know the finality of Jesus’ work yet.  It was late in the night when they went to the garden, they had to be physically exhausted.

Over the last year my work life has been extremely stressful.  I am emotionally worn out.

Yet these are the conditions in which the Lord steps in and carries us if we allow him.  In that garden, he willingly felt every sickness, pain, joy, heartbreak, stress and loneliness any person might ever experience, including Peter’s physical exhaustion and my emotional weariness.  I have the choice of sleeping through the atonement or using it to rise above myself and my troubles.

The Lord’s answer to Joseph Smith’s pleading in Liberty Jail contains wonderful encouragement and a promise.

“Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass.  Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”  D&C 123: 9.

The wonderful thing about the atonement is that it never fails, it never goes away and it never gives up.  No matter how many times I fall asleep or how deep the sleep is, if I can wake myself enough to use the atonement and ask the Savior’s help, I will get all the love and support I need.

May we never forget.  What a blessing the sacrament is, every week when we partake of it we promise to “always remember him.”  I pray that we will always remember him and his atonement.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saber o Conocer (To know or to know)

In my line of work relationships and connections are very important.  Literally every day I am asked multiple times if I know this person or that person.  Most of the people in our lives are people we have become acquainted with through someone else.  We have a friend who introduces us to a friend of theirs and suddenly we have a whole new set of connections to new people. 

On the other hand, we know of people that we don’t really know.  These are people who may be in our industry or live in our town, but we haven’t met them.  We may know who they are and what they do but we don’t know them.

Today I was reading in the New Testament, John chapter 17.  I have been thinking about Jesus’ great intercessory prayer this week, mostly about verse 12 when he says, “While I was in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost…”  I have been giving a lot of thought to “none of them is lost” and what that means and how it applies to me.

As I began reading chapter 17 I stopped at a note I had written beside verse three, which says, “And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.  The note sent me to Isaiah 1:3 and another handwritten note.  In chapter 1 Isaiah lays out the roots of the Israelites’ problems and then provides a solution.  Verse three says, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his mater’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.  My note simply said “Saber o Conocer?”

The Spanish language has two words for the English word “know” and they have completely different definitions.  Saber is “to know” as in to have knowledge of; but conocer is “to know” as in to be acquainted with, two totally different ways of knowing.

In verse three Isaiah was saying that Israel did not have an intimate acquaintance with their God.  Based on the histories of Israel we have, there is no question they were full of knowledge about Him but that is not the same as being intimately aware of Him.  A child may “know” her mother loves her but that is not always accompanied with “feeling” her love.  To a child, or to anyone, feeling loved is more important, more real than knowing logically that he or she is loved.

My wife Susan has loved me for a very long time.  She hasn’t just gained knowledge of me over time but she has grown to understand, appreciate, value, empathize, sympathize and identify with me.  She can not only finish my sentences, but most of the time she knows what is bothering me before I recognize it.  This identifying with me isn’t just about the time we have spent together; it is the love and interest she has for me.  She watches out for me, is concerned for me, celebrates my successes and encourages me, because she succeeds when I succeed and she bleeds when I bleed.  We are one by choice and by effort.

Jesus prayed that we might become one with him and His father, “That they may be as one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou has sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one;

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  (verses 21-23)

As I go back and read John 17:3 I know that I must conocer my God and His son.  I can’t rely on my knowledge of the things He has said and done, I must be intimately familiar with Him.  I have to understand, appreciate, value, empathize, sympathize and identify with my Heavenly Father and this can only be done with consistent love and effort over time.