I’ve heard it said that people change and spiritually progress for two main reasons: Either their minds have been opened, or their hearts have been broken. When both happen, just imagine the growth that can take place…
Fallen world forces
We live in a fallen world. Because we live on this telestial planet, we have to abide by telestial law, which thrusts us into realms of CONTRAST. If we experience light, we must experience darkness to become aware of the difference. To truly enjoy health, we must also have a firsthand understanding of sickness. If we want to experience rapture and bliss, we must feel heartbreak and despair. Knowledge and wisdom come from understanding these disparities.
In the dark, joyless realms we can feel so alone and completely cut off from God, but the good news is, a SAVIOR CAN SHIFT THE BALANCE on this telestial rollercoaster. This is why we need a Savior in this existence – in “real time!” Otherwise, evil would triumph with the laws of ENTROPY and OPPOSITION, and mankind would live in perpetual ruin and misery.
Brad Wilcox wrote: “Jesus walked on the water, but mortality was not designed to enable us to walk on water. It was designed so that we would sink. Only then would we reach out and grasp the arm of grace extended to us.” (Changed Through His Grace, p. 133) Christ’s Atonement gives us the opportunity to let grace do its work so we can “fill up” with God.
SURRENDER is a key component in this process. When we experience a “low low”, and completely surrender to the Lord, He will counter that downward thrust and turn our path upwards to ONEness. He can literally transform our emotional and spiritual environments, (sometimes in the blink of an eye). We need the Savior to save us in our extremities. We need at-ONE-ment.
From Crises to Surrender in Tanzania
A friend of mine in Tanzania, Africa experienced a painful “low low” recently when he lost his job, and his landlady gave him the ultimatum to pay up or get out. These were his heartfelt words: “I am going through a financial crisis with no job, and I had already overstayed for three months without having paid my landlady her rent. Recently she issued me 21 days notice to vacate her premises with no further excuse. I remain with 8 days only before the notice expire date and until now I’m confused and I don’t know what to do. I’m just praying for the miracle to happen. Today I surrender my all to Jesus.”
When he wrote that to me, I was so touched. A week later, I wrote him again to see what happened. He said: “Nothing has changed yet, but one thing I know is that my heart is at peace. My spirit was settled the moment I surrendered it all to Jesus, no more worry, no fear no despair.” Even at this extremely uncertain moment in his life, he was buoyed up. Once he OPENED his mind and heart to the point of surrender – the Lord FILLED him with joy and peace completely independent of his circumstance. He became “ONE” with the Lord.
When we’re in that place of ONE-ness, no darkness can penetrate. Christ lifts us out of negativity into light, calm and wisdom. Howard W. Hunter taught: “Peace can come to an individual only by an unconditional surrender – surrender to him who is the Prince of peace who has the power to confer peace.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, 2015)
From Pain to Grace
The following poem showcases the process we all need in order to advance spiritually. It begins with upset or pain:
She rose again.
Once we surrender to God’s will – not ours – in any given circumstance, we’re lifted up and His whole arsenal is there to heal our hearts and give us peace. Elder Paul V. Johnson said: “No matter how daunting the challenges in our lives or in the world around us, we know we can have peace through the power of the infinite Atonement.”(Elder Paul V. Johnson, April Conference 2013) We can receive this peaceful oneness and live our lives in a more meaningful way.
Just a week or two ago, I spoke with a friend who had gone through this process of spiritual surrender over many years. She was given a capstone experience, which she relayed to me. My friend, (I’ll call her Betty), had a friend (Janet), who had betrayed her in a very painful way 16 years earlier. It shook Betty to her core and the tsunami of emotion that resulted was difficult to let go of. The last couple of years, however, Betty had surrendered her experience and all of her emotion to Christ. Little by little she filled up with and applied His atonement until she became enabled to wholeheartedly forgive.
Just the other day, and out of the blue, Janet called her to say that she would be in Betty’s area and asked if she could stay at Betty’s home for the weekend. Somewhat hesitant, Betty agreed. On Sunday, they went to church. Betty sat next to Janet as the sacrament was passed. It seemed like time stood still as she observed herself handing the Sacrament tray to Janet while both partook. At that precious moment Betty realized what the Lord had done for her. She had absolutely no malice, anxiety or anger towards Janet from whom she had received so much grief. How the Lord had changed her! She felt a sense of victory through Christ in passing this tremendous test.
Neal A. Maxwell taught: “Spiritual submissiveness is not accomplished in an instant, but by the incremental improvements and by the successive use of stepping-stones. Stepping-stones are meant to be taken one at a time” (Neal A. Maxwell, Conference, July 2002). In this way, we can access the power to overcome suffering.
Redeemed from Hell
I love it when Nephi said, “…I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell” (2 Ne 33:6). Have you ever experienced hell? I know I have. Whenever we slip into ANY kind of darkness or negativity, we gain entry into the realm of hell. Nephi knew all about this. He even called himself “wretched” during a particularly difficult point in his life. This is a prophet of God talking: “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.” (2 Ne 4:17) He knew what hell on earth meant, but through Christ’s atonement he was able to feel the contrasting emotions (bliss and rapture), when he tells how the Lord “…hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” (2 Ne 4:21)
All of humanity experience misery from time to time and need redeeming here and now in mortality. The Lord is the answer. He can liberate us from the hell of personal weakness, lack, addiction, divorce, or many other agonies.
If you find yourself in a difficult or painful circumstance – there IS a way out! It is through learning to be ONE with the Lord in any given situation, (instead of being one with darkness and all that entails) Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my heart broken?
- Is my mind open?
- Am I ready to trade suffering for peace?
- Am I ready to choose light over dark?
- Am I ready to Surrender my will?
If our heartfelt answer to these questions is yes, we are completely covered from many forces of telestial law as we become ONE with the God of the Universe. He will fill us up with His Atonement, (AS SOON AS WE ARE READY), and we will become entitled to the peace that passes all understanding.
He can give us power to be able to forge ahead in frightening uncharted waters, or give us strength to do what we personally don’t think we can do.
We can apply Christ’s healing, redemptive Atonement NOW, – IN REAL TIME!
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