The Christus

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Entry # 1 - A Wrestling Before God

There are many places that one can start reading in The Book of Mormon. Page one is a great place, following the chronological chain of events from there is very educational, the 3rd book of Nephi in chapter 11 is also a great place. This chapter records the visit of Christ to people here in America shortly after his Resurrection and Ascension in Jerusalem. But there is one book that has always been important to me, it is the Book of Enos.

Only 2 1/2 pages long, it is packed with spiritual teachings applicable to the very nature of every one of us. Enos was a good young man with a good family. He had been taught many good and true things, but he was at that point in his life when he had to make the decision to believe for himself, and to find out if the teachings of the scriptures were true. One day as he was hunting in the forest he found himself alone with some time to quietly reflect and he says: "I will tell you of the wrestle I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins." This line, so simple is yet so powerful and it applies to each of us at least once in our life, for most of us – many more times than just once.

Now we don't know enough about Enos to determine whether he was a "great" sinner or a pretty good fellow that wanted to be better. I would suppose that he was generally a good, clean person. But his spiritual state up until this point is inapplicable to the principle of wrestling before God. It does not matter whether our sins are deep and painful, or if we simply need to improve a little here and there. The fact is that we each could improve, and as a general rule, we all feel good and have more joy when we improve in some way; especially when that improvement brings us closer to Christ.

Enos found himself in this very situation. He tells us that "My soul hungered" and that he entered into "mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul". And finally, after an entire night of prayer, that he heard the voice of the Lord say unto him "Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed." The story of Enos continues and we will visit that another day.

But now I want to backup to this concept of "wrestling before God". Notice that Enos did not say he wrestled WITH God, but BEFORE God. This is one of those spiritual intricacies that we must understand. If Enos was not wrestling with God, then who was he wrestling with? He makes no mention of another force or entity being involved, but instead lays the scene that he is alone in the solitude of the forest. The answer is quite simple: Enos was wrestling with himself. Why? Why would Enos need to wrestle with himself in order to receive the peace of God's Spirit? Isn't that something that you should have to wrestle with God for? The answer is a resounding "No".

The Lord told ancient Israel so many times that even though they would forget him and turn from him that his "hand is stretched out still". The Lord has no intention of keeping us from all his eternal blessings he desires for all of us to come unto him and partake of his mercy and love. His hand is stretched out, waiting, urging, even grasping for us. We have only ourselves to contend against. And this is why we wrestle BEFORE God. He must stand by and watch us overcome ourselves, with certainty he stands there eagerly cheering the good in us to victory, but ultimately it is our will and desire to be close to him that must win out.

This is by no means is ever an easy match. We are weighted evenly with our opponent, our skills are both well developed, and without fail there are those that would have either party win. However, when all is said and done, it is our heart - our divinely given Will -that brings us to conquer. Whether it be a full turning of our hearts to Christ from the stumbling of a dark path, or simply fine tuning ourselves to be closer to, and more like, Him. Either way, we must be willing to fight for it. Thankfully, we could have no better person rooting us on from the sidelines, no finer prize to win, to more glorious victory to accomplish, and certainly no better chance at succeeding then when we wrestle to become closer to God.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Welcome to "A Voice From the Dust"

On December 15 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard urged the graduating students at BYU-Hawaii to use blogs and other forms of "new media' to become part of the international discussion about the church's beliefs. He said "“We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches". Since then I have struggled to figure out how exactly I would be involved in this. Read more about the speech here

At first my inclination was to be a type of "apologetic" for the hot questions surrounding my faith; with the goal of helping others see the answers to these questions from a more rounded point of view. After some serious thought about this I came to the conclusion that it would not have the desired effect for others or any real level of personal spiritual impact for me.

But, one morning, during my reading of the Book of Mormon I was inspired on what to do. One of the most misunderstood parts of the Latter-day Saint faith is the Book of Mormon. I can testify and even argue all week about its truthfulness, but the effect would be minimal and the effort lost. Instead I am going to simply publish my thoughts about what I learn in my morning readings. It won't be anything fancy, just simple lessons that I feel others can benefit from.

Hopefully, as time passes, someone out there will see just how powerfully the Book of Mormon can be in a person's life - and pick up a copy for themselves.
Of course I will refer to other scriptures also as I attempt to provide some taste of the spirit that comes from reading all of God's words.

Why "A Voice From the Dust"?

In the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Nephi writes:

"And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come"

He knew that he was not writing these words for his people living at that time, but for people who would live long after he had finished his earthly mission - he wrote it for us. His words come from a long time ago, from the dust, but they could not be any more relevant for today's world.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:

"The standard works are all indispensable to our understanding the things of God. The Bible provides the foundation of our faith: The Old Testament gives the word of Jehovah through His ancient prophets; the New Testament sets forth, in language beautiful and moving, the matchless life and sacrifice of the Savior of mankind. The Book of Mormon stands as an added testament of Jesus Christ. Through its pages march the testimonies of prophets of the New World. Majestic in its sweep of history, its chapters are filled with the tragedy of war, with divine warnings, and with God-given promises. It speaks as a voice from the dust to a world that needs to listen." [The Ensign, January 1989] The Order and Will of God

I only hope that someone reading this blog will find the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, and take its words into their hearts.