Thursday, August 23, 2012

Adam and Eve

On a date a few months ago I said without thinking how on my mission I occasionally thought that when I got home some people would think I became more of a sinner and wonder what happened to me on my mission.  This was due to the sinful nature of the culture where I served, and while living in it and trying to teach in it, I had to adapt to those I taught.  Adapting meant though that I became part of a culture I never would have at home.  On my date I was unable to explain why I felt like that I might be considered a sinner at home, but I still could feel the spirit in my actions.  This also bothered me personally, I knew I felt the spirit, but I also felt uncomfortable with how I adapted.

At education week last week I feel as if I finally got an answer.  The teacher was using different women for examples of the bride for the bridegroom.  One theme used throughout the scriptures is of the great wedding feast, with Christ being the bridegroom and the church (and all of us) being his bride.  One of the first examples the teacher gave was Eve.  A comment he made that opened my vision, about what Adam chose when Eve presented him the fruit.  He knew what would happen to him by partaking the fruit, he wasn't deceived by the serpent.  Adam knew he would leave the presence of his Father, he would leave the paradisaical Garden of Eden, and he would lose his innocence.  Why did he partake of the fruit then?  He knew that the only way that Eve could be saved was for him to partake of the fruit and join Eve in mortality.  He had to leave all that was good and enter into spiritual death in order to help Eve be with him in the eternities.  And as her sealed eternal companion, he had an obligation to help her.

This is what Christ did for all of us.  He left the presence of the Father, passed through spiritual death, and tasted of all sin just so He might save us.  Christ did it knowingly just as Adam did, and saves all of those deceived by the serpent like Eve.  And as Adam was sealed to Eve, Christ was foreordained to save us.

To fulfill my calling as a representative of Christ, I feel this is what I had to do.  I had to understand a culture that at home I had refused to take part of.  I partook of the fruit that I before refused.  But for the same reason Adam did, to save someone I loved and more importantly was set apart to bring salvation to.  If I had not have been set apart to bring them salvation and felt the spirit guiding me in my actions, I would have been wrong to partake of that fruit.  And if my drive had been anything besides obedience to God and a love for the people, I would have been wrong even having been set apart.  And just as Adam was not immune to some punishments, I am not immune to consequences either.  I truly have lost a bit of my innocence.  I have to fight much more to keep my mind pure.  I don't wish to go further then needed about what partaking of that fruit has done to me, but the effects are there.  I had to sacrifice of myself for that people.  But just as Adam through the atonement found a path back to the Father, I know that God is with me and makes all my weakness strength.  And because my efforts were to follow God, I can hope my actions will be counted unto me as righteousness (D&C 132: 34-36).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

We Are Never Alone

A recent ward challenge has caused me to start pondering on the topic of the Christ's suffering in the atonement. But not only in the traditional payment of our sins, but also the personal pain He must have felt. As many of us go through, Christ must have felt so alone. His friends fell asleep while he suffered in the garden. Even Peter denied him three times.

Many prophets have had similar cries. I think of Job who was called a "perfect man", or of Joseph Smith who cried out "O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?" I love how this question is put in Psalms 116: "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul." Even Christ offered a similar prayer to his father in Gethsemane, "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." As with the prophets, we know after Christ said these words an angel appeared and comforted him. This is the Father I've come to know in my life, the one who sends that reassuring hand when we reach our darkest moments.

What amazes me is to then consider what happened to Christ on the cross. Here, in the ninth hour, he cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Throughout all scripture, God always appears to help His servants in their most desperate moments. Here, the most righteous of all - in mankind's most desperate moment - suffered all alone, without the help of His Father and our Father.  He truly suffered alone. 

There are many times where we feel this same way.  Where we feel that because of sin we are unworthy of God's presence and love.  While we are of course wrong because our Father never leaves us comfortless, what we feel matters.  And even in our worst pains, our Savior understands.  He knows how it feels to be truly alone, and to be left comfortless.  He has feel that agony personally, not just at our side in empathy.

So at any time we feel alone and that we need comfort, I know He is willing to come.  He suffered much more then just for our sins.  He suffered personally so he could know how each of us feel, and how I feel in my darkest moments.  How I am thankful.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I am that I am - אהיה אשר אהיה

We all know the story of God speaking to Moses from a burning bush. During this experience Moses asks what God's name is, and his response is אהיה אשר אהיה, usually translated as "I am that I am".

At a synagogue I recently went to the Rabbi offered an interesting change to this (which is a truly possible translation), "I am which I shall be". And that first "I am" in that would be similar to an imperative or command form, basically meaning that is a very strong way to say what you are.

She explained how in her opinion, God said that who He was is what he would do. So it wasn't just needful to have God's name, but God was going to show forth His fruit and show why Israel should trust in Him. And this is what our Father did.