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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Jesus Christ = Everything

Within the last few years I've done two sets of entries specifically talking about what Christ means to me, each set using one word to describe what He means to me and so far I've used rescue, power, potential, victory, charity, peace, freedom, protection, great, and perfect.

I was going to do five more entries, but, really, there may just be no end to the positive words that can be used to describe Him, who He is, what He stands for, the live He lived, etc. etc. etc.

Even though I may not be able to mention them all, let alone think of them all, I'll do my best to discuss why

Jesus Christ = Everything [good].

There is a quote I love from Tad R. Callister's book The Infinite Atonement that goes as follows:

"Beauty besets [Christ] in every direction.  So it is with the Atonement.  Regardless of our vantage point, it is glorious to behold.  Every principle underlying it, every consequence flowing from it rewards our intellect, animates our emotions, and enlivens our spirit.  It is a doctrine for all seasons."

Similarly, no matter your perspective, the season of your life, your belief system (or lack thereof), your age, your needs, goals, habits or any other factor, there is always a reason to make Christ more of a central figure in your life, whatever your pursuits may be.

Parenting

I'm not a parent yet, but I know what an amazing benefit it was to have the gospel of Jesus Christ taught and enforced the best way my parents knew how.  It wasn't a perfect environment because, of course, none of us mortals know how to be perfect parents, but my parents did the best they knew how to teach Christ centered principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.  None of us ended up perfect, but we all have testimonies of His plan, His love and His church and decent moral standards at minimum, all because my parents placed Him at the center of their efforts to teach us.  Indeed Christ is the most effective role model for parenting.

Prosperity/finances

While looking for prosperity, no matter what your profession, I know from my own first hand experience that building our financial stability on principles the Lord taught is the best way to find success.  Truths like tithing, honesty, fairness, hard work, personal virtue and kindness are all things He taught and exemplified and when they are used in balance in any kind of work opportunity it's the best way to have an exceptional outcome.  One example of this for me what when I was working at Arby's and my boss told everyone there about a mandatory meeting on a Sunday for all employees.  Now, I had told him when I was hired that I would never do anything work related on a Sunday and that that was my condition for taking the job.  I did not attend the meeting and faithfully paid my tithing.  So when I went back on my next work day and people were asking why I wasn't there my boss defended me and told the others to back off, saying that I had every right to exercise my religious beliefs, even if that meant putting God before my job.  This opened up further opportunities for me while working there I may not have had otherwise.

I have many amazing experiences since Lorraine and I got married regarding financial blessings as we have struggled at times to maintain financial stability.  We have made deliberate and conscious decisions to put more than expected towards fast offerings and made absolutely sure tithing is taken out of all we earn as soon as possible.  Because of this, God has provided us with things of which we were in critical need in times where we had no idea how we were going to do it.

My life with my wife has been a non-stop stream of evidence that centering our pursuits of prosperity on the Savior is the best way to achieve it.  It has also changed our definition of prosperity to reflect one of my favorite quotes, "If you have God in your life and nothing else, you have more than if you had everything else without God."

Understanding

Jesus is the only true source of perfect understanding in all of life's difficult times as well.  No matter the nature of our difficulties, He has been there first hand in His atonement for our souls.  Again, from Tad R. Callister's The Infinite Atonement:

"What weight is thrown on the scales of pain when calculating the hurt of innumerable patients in countless hospitals?  Now, add to that the loneliness of the elderly who are forgotten in the rest homes of society, desperately yearning for a card, a visit, a call – just some of the recognition from the outside world.  Keep on adding the hurt of hungry children, the suffering caused by famine, drought, and pestilence.  Pile on the heartache of parents who tearfully plead on a daily basis for a wayward son or daughter to come back home.  Factor in the trauma of every divorce and the tragedy of every abortion.  Add the remorse that comes with each child lost in the dawn of life, each spouse taken in the prime of marriage. Compound that with the misery of overflowing prisons, bulging halfway houses and institutions for the mentally disadvantaged.  Multiply all this by century after century of history, and creation after creation without end.  Such is but an awful glimpse of the Savior's load.  Who can bear such a burden or scale such a mountain as this?  No one, absolutely no one, save Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of us all."

If you ever need someone who understands you completely, even better than you do, to help lift you up, He is your ever constant, fail-proof source of Godly and mortal understanding.

Happiness

Maybe you aren't concerned with any of these perspectives of life right now.  Maybe you are one of those who happens to be in one of the most joyous times of your life at the present.  Well that, too, is an ideal time to turn to the Lord in gratitude and thanksgiving for all that you have and are.  As the prophet Joseph Smith said "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments."  How would/do you feel if/when you are in any way responsible for the good fortune of a family member, friend, or coworker and they showed little to no thanks for what you have done or even went as far as saying they did it without you, discounting your love and care for them?  The Savior is in control of everything and every time something good happens to you (and remember, some good things come disguised as what we think is a bad thing) He arranged for that/caused it to happen.  Everything you have and are is because He brought you or allowed you to get to that state.  No matter our circumstances, we owe Him our gratitude for everything.  Being happy is one of the reasons we are here on earth, and since the Lord made that possible in the first place, it's never a bad time to redirect that joy back to Him in thanks.

Relationships

Are you in a brand new relationship with a special someone?  Have you been for while now?  Or did a relationship end from which you are recovering?  No matter your relationship status, with your family or anyone else, He is also the perfect person to help in keeping that bond between you and another strong, repairing one that is struggling or damaged, or helping you recover from one that was broken all together.  One of my favorite lines from Bruce Almighty is where he's talking to "God" toward the end and "God" says "Grace. You want her back?" and he says "No.  I want her to be happy no matter what that means.  I want her to find someone that will treat her with all the love that she deserved from me.  I want her to meet someone who will see her always as I do now, through your eyes."  If you want to have a healthy relationship with someone, romantic or otherwise, focus on making them happy, by making every effort to see them as He does, even when they are frustrated, scared, angry, rude, mean, inconsiderate, dishonest, etc.  I'm not saying you should become a doormat, but that using the Savior's life and teachings as framework of your relationships is your best bet to make them work or heal from those that didn't work.

Trauma

Have you been through traumatic experiences that have been affecting you for years?  The atonement of Christ is still perfect for you.  He has sunk lower than everything you have been through first hand and come out on top.  He can make you greater than your trials and provide you the peace and healing you seek if you turn "with full purpose of heart" to Him (3 Nephi 12:24).  This may sound kind of crazy to some people, but having Aspergers means, for me, that every emotion I feel is so strong that finding a way to express them without overwhelming myself or others feels nearly impossible.  I thank the Lord for helping me with this matter.  He gave me a wife who has been patient enough with me to help me find ways of expressing myself more effectively.  I still struggle with this today.  The other side of it is that being unable to express myself without overwhelming someone, using the wrong words or even expressing myself at all boils up in me like an unquenchable flame.  Many times I end up feeling emotionally violated or destroyed, like I'm trapped in my own mind without an effective method of output and it's very traumatic for me.  This goes for not feeling reciprocated in the love I feel for others as well.  I recognize that this mostly as a result of my own personal weakness in managing thoughts and feelings with how intense they are, so it has caused me to turn to Christ that much more for help in winning the battles "fought within the silent chambers of [my] own soul" (In His Steps, Ezra Taft Benson 1979).

I know there are many more and many worse kinds of trauma, but I also know that Christ, the Savior of us all, is anxiously waiting to help us, looking with earnestness for every possible way and reason to help, protect, perfect and heal us, no matter our pain or the source of it.

Searching

Times of transition, learning, change and searching are also the perfect time to turn to the Lord.  Not sure where to put your trust?  Are you looking for answers, guidance or perspective in making major decisions?  He knows and comprehends everything there is to know or comprehend.  He has complete understanding in every way imaginable of every car part, every computer program, every song or dance that ever was or could be written or choreographed, every possible painting, drawing, illustration, photograph or sculpture, every injury, medicine, treatment or disease, every religion or beliefs system, all possible benefits and flaws of every imaginable business plan, investment, employee and product.  He knows every possible outcome of every possible decision or event.

There is no question He cannot answer, no problem He cannot solve, no concept He cannot explain, no confusion He cannot clear up.  If you are confused or searching for answers, Christ is the one to turn to.

I have made the mistake, innocently, of thinking "is there some cosmic mystery that Christ's doesn't know, something He has yet to learn, something even He doesn't understand?"

However, this is easily answered by another quote by Callister that I can't seem to find as I write this, so I'll do my best to paraphrase it.  If I remember correctly it was either about no twisting of details, minimizing facts or backpedaling about the specific nature of a sin in the confession part of repentance or dispelling any misconception regarding a perceived need to second guess or logically backpedal in discussing the eternal nature and effect of the atonement.  Either way, the concept applies here too.  As Jacob explains in the Book of Mormon, "O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it."  I don't see any clarifying statements or subtleties there.  It's pretty clear.

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I know there are other phases in life and perspective I have missed here, but, as noted earlier, "Regardless of our vantage point, [the atonement] is glorious to behold", as is the Man by whom it was accomplished.

He has and is the solution to every problem, the answer to every question.  He is the Healer for every ailment, the Strength for every struggle, the Source of every blessing, the Inspiration behind every good idea, the Manager behind every success, the Power behind every miracle.  Indeed He is the source of and the reason for every good thing in this world.

He lovingly gave His all, selflessly and deliberately, to allow us to live, progress and have joy eternally.