Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Light Thing

In the world tares are ripening. And so I ask you, What of the wheat? Let your pride, and your envy, and your fears depart from you. 
—Answer and Covenant

We need the Lord’s help for the Statement of Principles project. Some have proposed a day of fasting and prayer, today, Saturday September 23, 2017. I absolutely agree this is a wonderful idea, and I hope many of us will join in.

According to John Pratt, this happens to be the holiest day of the year on 11 sacred calendars. According to Joseph Smith’s translation of Revelation 12, the astronomical sign that appears in Virgo today represents the coming forth of the kingdom of God. This sign, and therefore this day, have existed in written prophecy for nearly 2000 years. This is a big deal, and may be a much bigger deal than we yet realize.

Though none of us may yet know the significance of the sign, and the Lord’s associated doings, we can at least recognize that prophecy is unfolding and the Lord is working and signifying his works with signs in the heavens and on the earth. Whatever happens in association with this sign has important implications for the coming forth of God’s kingdom.

As for the Statement of Principles project, we’re still in a tough place. Three attempts to accomplish the task have been classified by the Lord and David as failures, most likely meaning failures of our hearts, rather than failure of the often-inspired efforts of those who labored over the documents. The fourth attempt resulted in mutual agreement among a small subset of the body of believers, before there was yet a covenant. The vote among the wider body, again before the covenant, resulted in significant division and turmoil.

After the covenant, a new path forward has been proposed, with the goals of including all who care to participate, building on the foundation of the truths we all believe and have accepted by covenant, and overcoming past divisions to reach mutual agreement. Jeff Savage and I wrote at length about the need for, and thinking behind, such an effort—basing our reasoning on the Lord’s clear words in the requirement placed on us all. In so doing, we expressed the opinion that all the past efforts have been useful and helpful to get us to this point, but there yet remains work to be done.

Some are unwilling to give up the past, failed approach, insisting that we double down on that which has divided us. Others question the need for group participation at all, and want to transfer our group responsibility back to a single person. Yet others believe the Lord has asked the impossible and doesn’t actually expect us to be able to agree on anything (despite the fact that we ALL have agreed on a covenant and all it entails.) Numerous voices clamor for attention; some level accusations, others struggle in confusion. Some have changed their opinions multiple times, based on the last argument presented to them.

I don’t list the above as criticism. These are just the facts as they now stand, and they demonstrate our desperate need for the Lord’s guidance. As the Lord said in the Answer and Covenant, “if your hearts were right and you prepared yourselves you could have finished this work long ago.” The fact that it yet remains unfinished, and we can’t even agree on how to go about finishing it, indicates that our hearts are still not right. Not even close. We will know our hearts are right when it becomes a “light thing” for us to work together and come to agreement on truth.
If your hearts were right it was a light thing I have asked. 
Perhaps we shouldn’t assume “light” only means easy. The glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth. Perhaps, within the Lord’s choice of this word, exists the implication that our hearts must be filled with light in order to be right.

I’m reminded of Joseph Smith’s struggle with a difficult issue, and the approach that solved his dilemma:

While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 
Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.  
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture. 
God is not the author of confusion. He gives liberally to those who ask. But He requires an eye single to His glory: 
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. (T&C 86:12, RE)
Part of having an eye single to God’s glory (and remember, glory=light and truth) involves casting aside previous ideas, preferences, desires, pride, envy, and all else that causes us to seek our preferred answer. We must have a singular focus on God’s light and truth, rather than our own desires.
And save they shall cast these things away and consider themselves fools before God and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. (2 Nephi 6:11, RE)
Therefore, I intend to cast aside EVERY one of my own desires and preferences for this project, seeking instead to be filled with light and know God’s will for how to proceed. I’m willing to sacrifice my opinions, preferences, and cherished views of what I think is the right way forward, giving it all up in exchange for God’s wisdom. I invite you to join me. It’s been my experience that answers come not by how strenuously I ask, but by how thoroughly I set aside my own desires and open myself to His.

I invite ALL who desire to fulfill the Lord’s commandment in this thing to join in the effort to be filled with light. If this is meant to be a light thing, then let’s get some light! Let us all cast aside our differences and disputations, and come together for a day of fasting and prayer. I would submit this is not a day for discussion, but rather for private, internal reflection. Let it be a day of humility, repentance, forgiveness, and turning to the Lord with our whole hearts.

The God of heaven has promised us the following:
And I, the Lord your God, will be with you and will never forsake you and I will lead you in the path which will bring peace to you in the troubling season now fast approaching. (Answer and Covenant)
That is a promise He cannot, and will not, break. He absolutely will honor it if we will honor Him by humbling ourselves and seeking His wisdom with an eye single to His glory. He will lead us in the right path. Let’s claim that promise by coming together in fasting and prayer. 

And thus we see the great call of the diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord. And thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing; sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life.
—Alma 15:11, RE