Monday, August 12, 2013

we shall know, even as we are known

As I was going through our Church bag in search of the tiny notebook into which I scribbled Claire's blessing to record in the computer before the household tide comes in and washes things away, I found my other church notebook. I had written down a bunch of thoughts I had on the subject I spoke upon in church back in March.

It was an embarrassing talk. I went on for so long. I ended up going into preterm labor later that day and I blame my high emotions and for that. I am cringing just typing this, but that little fact might be interesting to you someday. The subject matter meant so much to me and I dove into it in that rediscovering the wheel way I have.

The topic was the question: How do we come to know Christ in our temporal lives? The bishopric member who introduced the subject to me told me that it was a question he really wanted to find an answer to. I am still pretty convinced I did not understand what he really wanted me to talk about, or what his question actually was, so I just went with what made sense to me. Which is, as always when it comes to the Gospel, the broadest and most basic principle of all.

Once again, before the tide pulls this out into the far reaches of my home, tantamount to throwing it away, I want to record the thoughts I had on the subject. I don't even want to look at the talk itself, it was so rambling and embarrassing. But I want my kids to have some sense someday about how this ordeal with Papa affected their mom, and to have some written testimony of my faith.

So often in the scriptures we find examples of people who ought to know better failing to recognize the Savior. The reaction of almost the entire population of the New Testament to Christ in light of all the prophesies and testifying ceremonies of the Old Testament is just one broad example. How is it that we can be ever learning, even about the Savior, and never come to a knowledge of the truth?

I think part of the answer is found in another question: "For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served and who is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?"

There are many ways to serve, but the fundamental essence of any service, of any good we do at all, is love.

"For God is love and they that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God." (1 John 4:16)

There is a reason that the great commandment is that we love God with all our heart might mind and strenght and that we love our neighbor as ourselves, since it is from that basic principle that every other commandment proceeds, or hangs, as Christ worded it.

And this is what life is. We are given a commandment to love, an example of how, and a little bit of time to practice, and families, little laboratories of love, to practice with.

Life may seem long, but we see increasingly how the time flows away from as at an astonishing rate. We have a limited number of days in this life in which to learn of Christ, to learn to love as He did. As brief as a lifetime can be, the seasons within it are even more ephemeral. We are only living with our parents for a short time, and then it is over. Our time as missionaries will come to an end and we are left with what we did during that phase. Our season as parents of very young children seems to stretch endlessly but suddenly it too is gone, and our kids, soon, also. Our time on earth with our spouses, siblings and parents is a gift, and one we are promised will be joyful if only we learn of Him, and love each other as He taught. But it is a gift we can waste and squander. So many people do.

I don't mean to sound too dismal. It is appropriate that ours is a Gospel of infinite hope. His arm is always stretched out to receive us in whatever lost path we are wandering. We also know that death is not the end and our relationships go on.

But I cannot help but also feel a warning that at least the quality of our lives, our opportunities, and the depths of our joys are diminished by not using the time we have to allow Christ to enlarge our hearts. To simply love, forgive, accept, let go.

We cannot love in this life as perfectly as He did and does. But the more we strive after his example of loving the closer we come to Him and the better we can feel Him and understand Him, for God is love. And I now think that this is what Paul meant when he wrote:

For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know even as we are known.

We cannot fully know Christ now, in our imperfect mortal state, just as, and also because, we cannot love perfectly as He did. But someday, the Gospel promises us, Christ will change our hearts completely, if we let Him. And it is in that day, in some day we cannot now envision accurately, that the darkness will scatter, the glass clouding our sight will evaporate and we will love and know as He eternally has loved and known us, though we never quite understood it until that very moment.

Until that day comes, it is for us to live joyfully, and while there are many deep mysteries to ponder, the way to be joyful is clear: love. So many people wander away from the Gospel table in search of a more plausible storyline or to escape looming doubts about histories or mysteries or even to just find an easier pathway. But there is no getting away from true principles, and whatever else is or is not true, is or is not discoverable, the most important feature of living a good and happy and meaningful life inescapably will have been the degree to which we have loved the people around us the way Christ told us and taught us and showed us. It is all there really is, all there ever has been. It has always been so and yet we can spend a lifetime searching.


Alisha said...

I just got off the phone with a member of my bishopric who asked me to speak in Sacrament. The topic is "prepare every needful thing" from D&C 109:8, specifically temporal preparedness. I jotted down some thoughts, then saw your post. Your eloquent words about teaching our children to love gives me a new perspective on how to "establish a house of learning." Our knowledge and or pursuit of knowledge is, I believe, a temporal pursuit and one that is needed in order to return to God's presence. You're right on - the best knowledge that we can pursue is of Christ. Thanks Alexandra. Thanks for sharing such beautiful words. My thoughts are with you.

Jenny said...


Sister Tara Bowen said...

I was reading that and thinking, "and these are your notes? Your notes are this pretty?" If your notes are that pretty, it's pretty much a crime not to be publishing constantly:). I love your message, and it's my favorite idea and truth in the world. I'm glad I got to think about it as I read your words.