Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happiness, Salvation, Redemption, Mercy – Final

(This is part IV. Part I is here; Part II is here; Part III is here.)

One of the hallmarks of King Benjamin’s address to the Nephites is the concept of retaining a remission of one’s sins. I really began to clue into that idea during my freshman Book of Mormon class at BYU (taught, as many of the Book of Mormon classes were, by a non-Religion Department faculty member). And I have continued to mull it over ever since.

In the context of Part III of this series, once we do our inventory, see God’s help, and make amends, then what? How do I go on from there?

First, I need some daily (or regular) way of staying on track. I need somehow to rededicate myself to the Lord each day and to seek His will for my life. And I need to check myself each day to see how I’m doing, and if I get off course, I need to do something about it – fast. I remember hearing Elder Eyring speak about praying in the morning to know who he could help and reporting back in his prayers at the end of the day on how he’d done. This daily checking-in with the Lord helps us to remain on the path back home.

But simply renewing my covenants either in daily prayer or with the sacrament each Sunday is not enough according to King Benjamin.

I also need to reach out to others. King Benjamin speaks at length about caring for the poor, giving to the beggar, meeting the needs of those around us. Of course in the gospel there are lots of cues to reach outside ourselves. Certainly caring for the poor and needy is among those (important enough now to be a fourth part of the church’s mission according to the new handbooks). But we have other ways in which we give service, from home teaching to temple service to missionary service. Not only can we strengthen the financially poor but also the spiritually poor. We can comfort those who stand in need of comfort, lift of the hands that hang down.

To me, it’s important that this service follows the specific self-inventory that I described in Step III. When my father gave his talk in church my first week home from my mission about conducting a personal inventory, it was after he had lived for nearly two years in Africa, away from the organized church where he and my mother held a small sacrament meeting each week in their living room. Sometimes it was just the two of them. About twice a month one other expat in Lagos joined them. And occasionally the missionary couples that had come to Nigeria and Ghana were in town and joined them, too (though usually they were off forming new units of the church). He had gone through that self-inventory process in his relative isolation in West Africa, and he came home with a different view of church service and of himself.

In recovery circles, the last of the twelve steps is about service to the recovery community and sharing the hope of recovery with others who may need it. In the church, we share missionary moments in priesthood meeting, pray for missionary experiences, and seek for ways to share the joy we have found in the gospel. And, as King Benjamin taught, we give of our surplus to the poor – perhaps through church donations and perhaps in other ways, too.

This act of reaching out to others, once we are spiritually healthy enough to do it, is how we can lose ourselves so that we may live.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. fantastic job. I did not imagine this. This is a fantastic story. Thanks!