Tonight it's time to talk about the incredible things I have learned from an eternal perspective and how that has changed me. I talked a tiny bit about one prompting I followed that has deeply blessed me this year a few months ago. Let me narrow in on it now.
Shortly after we moved I felt I needed to increase my temple attendance AND to bring my own family names. My initial thought was how? I have 4 kids all day M-F. Finding a good fit for a babysitter here has been an ongoing process, so Mark and I rarely go together. We are already sending one of us each week while the other stays with the kids. My prompting was to go every week. Having had enough experience with God, I didn't stay dawdling with these thoughts for long. As we discussed it as a couple, we committed to make it happen. I also had the opportunity to bump up my organ playing in the temple to weekly as well. What a calm this set aside and dedicated time became for me: to know that no matter what happened during the week, I would be in the temple Saturday afternoon to play and to worship!
Following this prompting has blessed me in several ways, but the one I really saw was how much more clearly I could see God's plan in my personal life. With a firm foundation of the doctrines of salvation---understanding my personal need for Jesus Christ in my daily life and the pattern of allowing Him in---my studying and seeking has turned to understanding the doctrines of exaltation. It is an incredible doctrine that God seeks for His children to become like Him! As there had been a disconnect on how to tap into the atonement in my own life, I had become aware of a similar disconnect in how God intended for me to become like Him. Let me share a quote from the phenomenal book, "The Continuous Atonement," by Brad Wilcox, then come back to finish this thought.
"Christ's Atonement overcomes the effects of the Fall, but it doesn't help us overcome bad habits unless we receive and apply it over time. 'For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not he gift?' (D&C 88:33). Those who dwell with Christ are those who have come to be like Him through fulfilling what He asks. The justified must still be sanctified. The 'new' must become 'new and improved.' Those who are declared 'not guilty' must become worthy, even holy, and this doesn't happen automatically or quickly.
...We don't get into heaven on Jesus' coattails. Rather, He changes us until we fit His coat. Christ justifies us by exchanging His goodness for our sin. He sanctifies by exchanging our worldly natures for a celestial nature. Justification alters our standing. Sanctification alters our state. Justification frees us from sin's penalty. Sanctification frees us from sin's tyranny (see Galations 3:13; Philippians 3:8-9, D&C 76:69: see also MacArthur, Faith Works, 121). While justification is represented by clean hands, sanctification is represented by a pure heart that has been given to God (see Mosiah 4:2' Helaman 3:35)."
If all we needed was an immortal body, God could have given us one from the start. After all, He provided one for Jesus. But such a gift would have been like giving us a new car without teaching us how to drive. What is the point of looking like He looks or even having what He has if we are not living as He lives?
...****THE LORD CAN'T PERFECT THEM WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT."**** (pages 74&75, emphasis added.)
After all my dear Savior and I have been through and all the time we have spent together looking into all of the dark corners of my life, I can boldly say, he has paid the price of my sins (justification). Because of Him, He has saved me from "the grasp of this awful monster...death and hell" (2 Nephi 9:10). I will boldly praise Him and our loving God for his wonderful plan!
It is the fine tuning that I am discovering my life needed next. The pattern of that will need to be for another time and I have been surprised that this process too was actually already very familiar. As I was mentioning before the Brad Wilcox quote, I know one reason for the prompting to be in the temple each week was for me to see this process taking place right under my nose. Without the temple from week to week the crawling progress forward would have easily gone undetected.
Being in the temple and considering on, of many things, this process of ME becoming more like God---Godlike in my very being---on Saturday, then partaking of the Sacrament and renewing my covenants with God on Sunday, then a week full of opportunities to choose Him from moment to moment (with plenty of times each day to be prayerfully honest in my self-evaluation of those times I didn't choose Him, then try again the next day) then another Saturday in the temple and another Sunday to partake of the emblems followed by another week of trying... This weekly, daily, hourly yearning and seeking has been visible to me. I don't fully have words to articulate, but it helped me to see that my efforts to repent quickly and keep my life in full standing of light and truth are being accepted. My efforts to turn to Him again and again, to seek and follow prompting of The Spirit again and again, to seek to work in His strength again and again, to seek to become more and more neutral and shed lies and resentments and false securities again and again...it matters. It makes a difference. For many of us, this process of sanctification will take a whole life time. Sometimes spreading it out over a life time can make it seem imperceptible.
But for those who seek Him, it is happening. He reaches our reaching.
And just in case I don't come back to photo dump any time soon, here are a few cute pictures I dug up looking for one at the top. Every day at our house is truly an adventure!
|Daddy and Shipton playing so crazy they are a blur...haha. :)|
|Gavin scooting at the skate park|
|Leland playing with a long piece of elastic. Oh he had a blast experimenting with it.|
|Mama's little kitsch helper. This is big boy Shipton.|
|Left to right: Gavin, Sennika, and Leland playing with play dough|
|More crazy Daddy rough time. The kids are too blurry to accurately say who is who. :)|
|Sennika and ps the raspberries are on at our house.|
|Oh I love this snuggly guy! Note how lately he puts his arm around my neck and hugs me tightly.|
|Picnic in the family room|