Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh article in a 12-part Tuesday/Thursday Meridian Series that explores some of the most remarkable and exciting doctrines of the Restoration. Read the two-part introduction to this series here, and here, and read article 1 here, and article 2 here, and article 3 here, and article 4 here, and article 5 here, and article 6 here, and article seven, here. To read the eighth article in the series, here and to read the ninth, here. For article 10, read the Author’s Note below.
Author’s Note: The three concluding articles in this series are the communication I had with the Right Hon. Rhodes Boyson, a British Member of Parliament who had become a close friend during our Mission Presidency in London. Rhodes had become very familiar with the Church, and not long before our return to the U.S. he asked me the best Gospel question I have ever heard.
He said that he wanted to differentiate between the wrappings and the gifts—that he knew a lot about the “wrappings” of angels and gold plates and visions, but he wanted to know more specifically about the “gifts” of the actual doctrines that were restored. Article 10, here, is the beginning of this correspondence and of my introduction of the “gifts.” Today’s article is Part 2 of that communication, which will conclude in next Tuesday’s final article of the series.
Gift 1: Knowledge of Man’s Pre-mortal Existence and of the Eternal Fatherhood of God.
This first gift was the conclusion of Article 10 which can be read here.
Gift 2 – Knowledge of the Purposes of Earth and Mortality
Rhodes, I believe that understanding God as a personal and loving Father, and knowing of our pre-life with Him gives us access to a simple comparison that helps to make the purposes of earth and mortality more understandable and clear: Just as a wise earthly father recognizes that there comes a time when his children must have independence and separation from him in order to find themselves and become competent and separate entities, so our Heavenly Father recognized that our progress required an independent sphere with endless options of choice and without the coercion of a Lucifer-proposed dictatorship or the direction of a complete memory of our earlier life.
As we are born into mortality, a veil of forgetfulness shrouds our minds, blocking memory of our previous life with God and creating the opportunity both for faith and for independent choice. The veil is something of a “semi-permeable membrane” however, because certain deep feelings, an inherent “conscience” or sense of values, and some of the “threads of glory” spoken of by Wordsworth manage to linger in our memory even in our state of forgetfulness.
People, then, are eternal. Eternity exists, for each of us in both directions–forward and backward. Endlessness in either direction is hard for our mortal, finite, time-bound minds to comprehend, but we have always lived, and earth life is only one phase in our existence, one grade in school. Our Father, Heavenly Father, sent us here — away to this earthly school — with His blessings, and with His hopes that we would return wiser for our experience, more free because of our practice in exercising agency, and more like Him because of our progress and development and because of our own parenthood.
Earth can accurately be called a test, but it is well to remember that it is not God who needs to test us but we who need to test ourselves. It is not enough for God to know us and to know the choices we would make. We must know ourselves and must actually make our own choices.
Physical bodies which may seem, because of their frailty, more of an impediment than an opportunity, are in fact an incredible blessing. Our bodies expand our range of feelings and experience. They afford us the previously unobtainable privilege of procreation and the physical expression of love. They allow us to learn to deal with and handle the physical world as well as to observe it and appreciate its metaphors and lessons as well as its dramatic beauty. Indeed, when our opportunity to gain a physical body and come to a physical earth was first announced to us, scripture tells us that we “shouted for joy.”
And our joy, as we are told elsewhere in scripture is the very purpose for mortality.
“Adam fell that men might be (mortal)
and men are (mortal) that they might have joy.”
“Joy” in this context means much more than mere pleasure, amusement, or passing happiness. Rather, the purpose of life is to discover and appreciate the joy of self-determination, of accepting and being equal to difficult challenges, of loving the beauty of body and earth, of creating families and forming deep relationships, of struggling and searching for temporal as well as spiritual truth, and of looking for and finding God through faith that is stronger than the veil.
As we have often discussed in other contexts, Graham, there is power in purpose. Deep insights into the purpose of mortal life is a powerful and valuable gift of the restoration.
Gift 3. Knowledge of the Degrees and Dimensions of Life After Death
The simplistic (and with analysis terrifying) doctrine of an arbitrary, two-option hereafter has never made sense to me or to you Rhodes.
A life after death consisting of an “eternal rest” heaven or an “eternal burning” hell is neither satisfying nor in any way comforting to the seeking mind. One of the gifts of the restoration is a view of after-life that is not only clearer but also more logical, more fair, more motivational, and more beautiful.
Just as physical birth is the taking on of a physical body by the spirit, physical death is the separation of spirit and body. The spirits of all men and women, upon death, go to a place of light called the Spirit World where they await a universal resurrection, which will occur at a later time and which is the reuniting of the spirit with a perfected but still tangible physical body.
In the spirit world we remain ourselves and retain our characteristics and thought processes in a spiritual form, absent from our physical bodies. Many of the teachings of Christ’s restored Gospel — about a place of warming light where we recognize other departed beings and review our mortal lives — has had an interesting sort of “verification” in the recent international best-selling books like Betty J. Eadie’s Embraced by the Light or in Life After Life where author Raymond Moody presents hundreds of case studies of “near death experiences” where people left their bodies and were transported into a realm of light, met beings of light, and were able to view (or review) their earth experience. Dr. Moody calls Mormons “the most prominent of the Western religions to . . . accept near death experiences and the notion of a doorway to a spiritual world.” He indicates that Mormon feelings on the transcendence of the spirit are in keeping with his research and questioning of those who experienced near death and recalled leaving their bodies.
In the Spirit World, those who have never had the opportunity to learn accurate truth about God and His plan are afforded that opportunity. Indeed, as Peter tells us in I Peter 3:18-19 and 4:6, Christ himself went to the spirit world after His death to teach those who lived during a time of universal wickedness (Noah’s time) and thus had no opportunity to accept and live by true principles.
Only when all men have had equal opportunity to accept God and Christ and their way of life will the judgment and universal resurrection occur. The judgment will have elements of a self-judgment in that we will gravitate to the level and to the people wherein and with whom we are most comfortable. If we have made wise decisions and learned to live by God-like principles we will return to live with God. If our life styles and associations find more commonality and comfortableness in levels below God, then we will place ourselves in those lower levels.
The apostle Paul spoke of three main “degrees of glory” or places where resurrected beings would live, the highest of the three being the place where God and Christ dwell. But Paul also made it clear, as does the restored Church, that within these three levels there will be an infinite number of rewards, just as there are an infinite number of people, no two being exactly the same. Rewards will differ, Paul said, “as one star differeth from another.” (1 Cor. 15:40-42)
While the hereafter will be a place of unimaginable peace and beauty, it is better described as a place of eternal progress, than a place of eternal rest. God, as the perfect Father, is concerned with our happiness, and as a being of perfect joy, He desires that we become more like Him. The concept that man, through positive experience and good choices, can become more like God is not a blasphemous “lessening” of God but a faithful “lifting” of man; and it is another gift of the restoration.
Gift 4. Enhanced Faith in God and in the Fairness of His Justice
As you and I have discussed, Rhodes, a favored theme of professed atheists is that the injustice and random unfairness of life causes them to decline belief in God. They also often say that the traditional Christian concept of Heaven and Hell robs justice by being binary and arbitrary, and by its inherent assumption that a person born into Christendom can be saved while one born in a culture where Christ is unknown may be damned due to his unchosen ignorance.
Belief in a premortal existence and in a pre-judgment spirit world afterlife allows us also to believe and have faith in the perfect and eternal justice of God.
Life, to our limited and veiled mortal vision may look arbitrary and unfair. The obvious inequality of birth and opportunity sometimes seems to suggest uncaring randomness or even cruelty. Yet, when we expand and modify our vision with the belief in a pre-existence and in a loving and personal Heavenly Father, we can have faith that from His perspective what may seem random to us is both fair and purposeful. Apparent tragic circumstances may be unique chances for growth and for opportunities which are precisely what certain people need in the context of eternity.
And faith in an “equalizing” spirit world hereafter, where missed opportunities are made up, completes the logic of faith in a God who is ultimately fair, who loves each of His children as well as all of them, and who stands ready to help us in our needs but stops short of manipulating our lives without our request, thus preserving the agency which is essential to mortality’s purpose.
God does not create fairness by seeing that our lives are equal or predictable or well-managed. Rather, He insures fairness by providing everyone, either on earth or in the spirit world, with an equal opportunity to accept Him and His Gospel.
To someone who walks into a track stadium and witnesses a race already in progress, the race may appear unfair. Some runners are ahead of others. The observer must see both the start and the finish of the race — and perhaps even the training that preceded it — before he will understand the cause-and-effect circumstances and realize that the race is fair.
The story is told of an Australian aborigine who “went walk-about” for over a year. During his absence, medical missionaries came to his tribe. By coincidence, on the very day he returned, his wife was undergoing an emergency appendectomy. He arrived just in time to see a white man cutting his wife open with a knife. To the aborigine, three conclusions were inescapable: 1. The man was trying to kill his wife, 2. It was being done against her will, 3. There was no chance of good coming of it.
All of the aborigine’s conclusions were wrong, just as our conclusions are wrong if we judge from our short-sighted and limited perspective that God is cruel, arbitrary, unfair, or unjust. A specific apostate doctrine that undermines the justice of God in the minds of men is the mainstream definition of “original sin” and its application to all of us. The term — original sin — itself is unfortunate. Adam did choose mortality and bring decay and death into the world but he did so not out of ignorance or folly; he did so as part of God’s plan which required mortality and death.
We do all die because of Adam’s act, but as Paul so clearly states, we will all be made alive because of Christ’s act (1 Cor 15:21-23). Men are not punished for Adam’s actions — rather, we forfeit rewards and progression by our own transgressions.
This knowledge, this reassurance, both of the fairness and justice of God and of the perfection of His plan, is a great gift of the restoration. The gift is more completely understood in connection with gift 5 which involves the mercy of God.
Once, during a vacation, we met an interesting couple who had left Christianity and embraced Hinduism. This seemed so rare and unlikely to me that I was bold enough to ask why.
“Well, basically,” came the answer, “we felt the need for belief in a God who was just. As Christians we had trouble with the idea of original sin where we were all being punished for Adam’s sin. Also, we had no explanation for the random unfairness and inequality of human life on this earth. In Hinduism there is no original sin, and the concept of reincarnation contains justice, because, over the course of many lives, our opportunities and blessings as well as our trials and sufferings will equal out.”
I asked our new friends if they were aware that there was a Christian church — deeply and conservatively Christian — that viewed Adam differently (as the hero — the instigator of God’s plan of agency) and that believed in the eternal, on-going nature of the spirit, moving not through different identities but through different realms which created a cumulative equality.
I now express this belief to you, Rhodes — the belief in a two-way eternity, in the perfect justice and perfect plan of God for our progress and growth, and in the fact that the promise of all this was another gift of the restoration.
Gift 5 – A More Complete Comprehension of Christ, of His Atonement, and of Our Relationship to Him
All plans of agency and growth involve risk and there is no true freedom without the opportunity to fail. This risk and this freedom are inherent in God’s plan.
But without a mediator and a redeemer, the plan would have contained more than risk — it would have contained predictable and guaranteed universal failure. God has said that no unclean thing can enter His presence. He lives in a realm of perfection. Thus our bad choices, our human tendencies toward selfishness or laziness, and even the small inevitable mistakes of everyday life would, by definition, keep us from returning to Him.
Left to our own devices, the risks posed by this life are too great. The debts we accumulate to God, who gives us more than we can possibly repay, point us toward a debtor’s prison rather than toward the palaces of the King. Sins, like tiny but tenacious barnacles, attach to our mortal hull and make us incapable of the slip speed and smooth perfection required to live with God.
And there is another barrier posed by mortality, one even more predictable than sin. It is that inevitable termination of temporal life which we call death. The very elements of time, change, deterioration, and “physicalness” that were set in motion by Adam’s act (and that make mortality a test and growth-stage) also guarantee termination. We start dying the minute we are born.
God’s goal for His children to become more like Him is not met by our mere sojourn in a brief and temporary physical existence. God Himself has a glorified, perfected body of flesh and bone, as witnessed by Biblical prophets and as intimated when He stated His intention to make man “in His image.” God has (and is) both spirit and body and thus has the joy of (and the power over) both spiritual and physical matter and phenomenon. Our bodies are not the temporary apparatus of a brief physical experience in the earth-laboratory. They are prized, new possessions — joyful gifts from a loving Heavenly Father that have the potential to complete our souls. (“The spirit and the body are the soul of man.”)
God’s plan, therefore, required a means whereby physical death could be overcome and reversed and whereby the debt of sin could be relieved, repaid, and redeemed.
Only a sinless man with the unlimited credit of perfection could pay this debt and only a being who was the master rather than the subject of death could reverse the process of decay and deterioration, replacing it with regeneration and resurrection.
Jehovah, the first-born spirit Son of God and the pre-existent advocate of God’s plan of mortality and agency, gave himself to this role.
He was the God of the Old Testament, of Moses and Abraham, and then He came to earth as Jesus Christ, Son of His mortal mother, Mary, and of His immortal father, God. He lived a life of utter perfection and taught a revolutionary new way of living and an outlook that centered on love and mercy. He presented the gospel of “good news,” of hope and joy, and He died a voluntary death that paid for sin, fulfilled justice, and reversed and rolled back the momentum of the grave.
Few have taught the principles of Christ’s ransom, sacrifice, and redemption better than your great countryman, C. S. Lewis. In his remarkable children’s tale The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe he titles one chapter “Deep Magic From The Dawn Of Time.” In this chapter, the great lion Aslan (the Christ figure) offers himself in place of the boy who has committed treason and has thus become the claim of the White Witch (the Satan figure). Because of eternal justice, the witch “owns” the guilty boy, but justice is satisfied by Aslan’s sacrifice as he gives his life to save the boy’s. The witch laughs as she kills the Great Lion, believing that she has won.
But the next chapter is entitled “Deeper Magic From Before The Dawn of Time.” In it,
Aslan takes up his life again, having satisfied justice with mercy and having power over death through his perfection. Lewis doesn’t try to explain how the deeper magic works — only to inspire awe in the fact that it does work.
The redemption and atonement of Jesus Christ, through our limited mortal minds, can be only partially and metaphorically understood. The power and principles involved, the effort and suffering required, and the sheer magnitude of the consequences of His great sacrifice are all beyond our capacity to fully comprehend. Sometimes children, void of pretentious language and relying on faith and feeling more than on rational reason, handle this magnificent mystery best. When asking my five-year-old why Jesus came to earth, she responded with a single sentence: “To teach us to be nice and to show us how it will work when we die.”
The resurrection is how it will work when we die. It will work for all mankind everywhere. As Paul said, “As in (because of) Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” All will be resurrected. It is part of God’s plan that His children continue their progression with the completed soul of spirit and body. Our resurrected bodies will be perfect and eternal, no longer subject to disease or deterioration. Where we will go with those bodies will depend on the lives we have lived, both here and in the pre-resurrection Spirit World) and on the outcome of the “self-judgment” mentioned earlier.
Christ will return to the earth and reign for one thousand years, during which time the work of salvation will be carried forth, partially through vicarious ordinances performed for those who died without opportunities to know of His plan. After all have had full and equal opportunities to accept Him, He will be our judge — merciful, perfectly empathetic, aware of our every pain and every desire. He will judge with the same mercy with which He lived and will reign forever in the Celestial Kingdom where His Father and those who have accepted His Father’s plan will dwell.
It is important to understand that Christ’s atonement overcame two kinds of death, both involving a separation. Physical death is the separation of the spirit and the body. It was instigated — for all mankind — by Adam. It has been overcome — for all mankind — by Christ. God’s plan of agency, growth and self-choice, could be facilitated only by a descent into the suffering-and-ecstasy mix of mortality and the re-emergence into immortality.
The second kind of death is spiritual death which means the separation of man from God. It is brought on by our own transgressions. Christ atoned for our sins but our own repentance is what activates and puts into effect His forgiveness, allowing a return to God.
Salvation — the overcoming of physical death — is a free gift to all, but exaltation — the return to the presence of God, which is made possible by Christ’s gift — must be earned.
With this deeper understanding of Christ’s atonement comes a greater grasp of His majesty, and a more complete view of the roles that He plays in His Father’s plan and in our personal and individual salvation. Let me illustrate this with a numbered list that compares ascending views of
Christ — and points out the added levels or dimensions that the restoration has revealed about Him.
Thirteen Levels of Belief in Christ
Level one: He did not exist. He is a myth.
Level two: He existed, but was only a trickster, a magician, a deceiver.
Level three: He was a historical figure, but most of what is said about him is fiction or legend rather than history.
Level four: He was a remarkable and powerful teacher.
Level five: He was a charismatic leader and teacher who developed the most beautiful philosophy of life ever devised.
Level six: He was a prophet.
Level seven: He was the greatest of all the prophets.
Level eight: He was more than a man, more than a prophet — he was the Son of God.
Level nine: He was the Son of God and is our Savior. and was then resurrected.
Level ten: He died and atoned for our sins
Level eleven: He established His church and spread His Gospel.
Level twelve: Because He had given man free agency He knew that His church would be diluted and destroyed. Following this apostasy and following the “way-preparing” Reformation, he has and complete gospel back to earth. The divine Savior has restored his complete church
Level thirteen: He is the Creator, the God of the Old Testament, the Only Begotten, the Atoning One, the just God who visited and taught in both hemispheres and in the spirit world, the Restorer, the Head of his church today, our Eternal Elder Brother, our Judge.
True Christians emerge at levels eight and nine, and believers in the restoration at levels eleven, twelve, and thirteen.
Gift 6 — The Gift of the Holy Ghost
When we speak of gifts, the term is nowhere better applied (and nowhere more scripturally
applied) than to the gift of the Holy Ghost. The New Testament clearly states that the apostles of Jesus and other holders of His priesthood power gave this gift by the laying on of hands…by placing their hands on the heads of those who had repented and been baptized and literally bestowing upon them the companionship and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. Just as Christ is a separate being from (and the son of) God the Father, so is the Holy Ghost a separate and distinct individual. The three are one* in purpose, perfectly united in the object of mankind’s progress and salvation, but they are three distinct and individual beings.
Even as the roles of Creator, Savior and Judge are played by Jesus Christ, acting under the direction and for the glory of God, His Father — so are the essential roles of Testifier, Comforter, and Spirit of Truth played by the Holy Ghost.
Unlike the Father and the Son, both of whom have perfected, tangible bodies, the Holy Ghost is, for now, a personage of spirit. As such He has the God-given power and charge to bear witness of truth to our spirits.
By the power of the Holy Ghost we may “know the truth of all things.” Through this power and gift we have access to the feelings and impressions that allow us to separate truth and error, that guide us toward our truest destinies, and that enhance our understanding of the world we live in and of our individual place in that world.
This spirit of truth and insight is available to all men everywhere. It is the reason why sincere and seeking minds, even when they exist in circumstances void of books or contact with earthly sources of knowledge, nonetheless gather understanding and arrive at truth. The Holy Ghost can accurately be called a Conscience, a Revealer, a Comforter, and a Spirit of Truth. Indeed, the scriptures do call Him these things. His influence penetrates the veil of forgetfulness to the extent that we sense or feel some of the realities about ourselves and about God that are veiled from our conscious memory. This is why, as we discover spiritual truth, we often have the feeling that we are remembering or re-learning rather than finding for the first time.
While all honest seekers (particularly those who pray) can feel and benefit from this spirit, the true and complete gift of the Holy Ghost is given today as it was anciently — by the laying on of hands by those holding God’s priesthood to those who have been baptized and thus prepared by the remission of their sins for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Gift 7 — The Gift of the Priesthood
Giving the gift of the Holy Ghost, the effectual performing of emersion baptism, and all other ordinances which by physical symbol and prayer actually invoke and involve God’s power and bring about a spiritual change…..all such acts require the Priesthood. Priesthood, in the Bibli- cal sense, was God’s authority, controlled by Prophets and Apostles and given to worthy individuals by the laying on of hands. Men did not assume this power, or purchase it, or earn it by the completion of some course of study or academic degree (see John 15:16; Acts 8:18-20). Rather, it was given by God, through His apostles, to those who had made baptism covenants and who were worthy to wield God’s power.
It is so today. An integral part of the restored Gospel is the restored Priesthood. Through its righteous use, sins are washed away through baptism, the sick are healed, the gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed, Patriarchal blessings of guidance and personal prophecy are given from one generation to the next, and ordinances are performed in holy temples which unite families for eternity and bind men to God through the exchange of sacred covenants and promises.
Today, the restored Priesthood of God allows men to act in the name of God and it is a powerful gift of the restoration.
Gift 8 — Eternal Marriages and Deeper Family Ties
Marriages that are performed in LDS temples are not “till death do you part” but “for time and all eternity.” Mortal life, as it affords us our first opportunity for parenthood and pro- creation, also marks the beginning of our own personal kingdoms or eternal families. The bonds of husband and wife in marriage and of parent and child in families are too deep and sacred, and too eternally important, to be voided at death. Instead, they endure and strengthen as we move on to further stages of our growth and progress.
LDS family life, and the solidarity of marriages performed in temples is widely known, almost legendary. Graham, you have observed first hand the importance we place in our marriage and the priorities we and other Mormon families place on our relationships with each other. Some observers assume that this is brought about by the extensive programs, manuals, organized activities and other assistance provided by the Church for families. In fact, it is our beliefs that are the cause. Beliefs about the nature and purpose of families brings about strong families and it is those strong families that drive the Church’s programs and efforts.
The beliefs that are the cause involve “both sides” of eternity. The belief in a pre-existence causes us to view our children not as tiny, beginning sprouts of life that our bodies have produced but as our brothers and sisters, belonging to and coming from our Heavenly Father, just as we did. Thus we respect them as siblings and care for them as our stewardships.
And the belief in the potential eternal nature of marriage and families causes us to think further ahead, to be more committed and to be convinced that no challenge is too great and no effort too much to ask when the endurance of our deepest love is at stake.
We do not think that we love our spouses, our children, or our parents more than other people might, but we believe there is a purpose, an insight, and a meaning in that love that could not be present without faith in what came before and in what goes after . . . a gift we would not have but through the restoration.
Personal Note: A Gospel That Is Both Lyrical and Logical
Rhodes, before this begins to sound more like a book or a lecture than a letter, let me get back to the personal and to the day-to-day. I wrote parts of this letter over the last couple of days, after work, early in the morning, etc., hoping that it would take on a logical and practical tone. Then early this morning I drove up into a flaming, bright autumn canyon, looking for some peace and quiet and for the kind of inspiration that I hoped would help me focus and capture the rest of what I want to say to you. The day was breathtakingly beautiful…..one of those rare, perfect autumn days with cloudless sky and brilliant, slanting sunlight in which the maples were bright pink and the aspen was burnished gold, set off by the deep evergreen of fir and pine. The oaks (you’ll remember that we call them “scrub oak” since at this altitude they never become massive or strong like your great English oaks) were the brightest pure red I have ever seen. By the time I got to our little ranch, I had realized that it was too rare a day to go inside and write, so I saddled up our Appaloosa horse “Banner” and rode up into the hills.
I love Alpine autumn scenery, I love to drive through fall foliage, but I’ve found that you don’t see it all until you are on horseback. The rhythm of the hoofs and the effortless movement through the beauty somehow enhances everything. I was moved, awed by the beauty.
As I rode high up into the narrow canyon, beside a cascading stream, my mind went back to this letter and ideas started to come. I stopped periodically and made notes which I’ve since tried to incorporate and integrate. Let me try to express some of the feelings I had, thinking about you and what I wanted to say to you as I rode through the autumn mountains.
Feeling 1: As I rode, I realized that much of what I want to say to you sounds more lyrical than logical. And maybe that’s why I want to say it. The wonder of the restored gospel is that it is both lyrical and logical, both sensitive and sensible, both pretty and profound. All real truth is also real beauty. (I think it was your poet Keats who said that.) We are never forced to choose between the mental and the emotional. When something is true and from God, our heart testifies of it to our mind and our mind testifies back to our heart. The teachings of the restored gospel have the ring of truth which energizes and excites both heart and mind.
Feeling 2: As I rode higher on the mountain path, a path I had never been on before, I was struck by the adventure of it all. I did not know what would be around the next bend, but I antici- pated more beauty — possibly some danger and a risk or two, but I wanted to be there — I wanted to see it, to move on, to discover.
So much of life can be the same. We’ve never been exactly where we are until right
now — and it’s never been this late before, it’s never been now before. One of the gifts of the restored gospel is that we can see mortality as an exciting and experience-filled adventure. God gave us all this beauty, all these options. The earth is an elaborate, orbiting laboratory where we can mix elements in ways that create an unending range of possibilities and results. We were sent here to find our deepest selves, and the world was designed and created to help us do so.
Feeling 3: A couple of times, there were rough spots and dangers around the next bend. In one place the stream bed was deceptively soft and Banner sunk in to his knees and had to kick and scramble to get out. I got off his back so I could lead him to higher, firmer ground. In another place the path was washed away on a steep hillside. I decided to take a detour and come back to the trail up ahead. Each time there was a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment for having surpassed the danger — overcoming it and learning from it.
In life, it is the overcoming of difficulties, the solving of problems, the working out of dilemmas that brings real joy and growth. It’s the accepting of (and sometimes the creation of)challenges that make life exciting. The scriptures tell us to “watch and pray” — to be aware in spirit and in mind, and thus to make right decisions that allow us to move through and beyond and into realms of more beauty.
Feeling 4: New metaphors seemed to multiply out of my ride. I would think of Banner, my horse, as he scrambled up a bank or jumped over a falling log. He is so powerful. I felt his strength, so superior to mine, as he gathered himself to climb, to run. Controlled, his power is such a joy.
On the way home, I let him run, and in his desire to get back to hay and barn, he tried to run away — too fast for a rocky trail. I reigned him in, bridled him hard to control the power that can so quickly turn from joy to danger.
Just as the spirit must bridle the body.
What a dark tragedy that so much of the world’s religion blames the body, condemns it as the source of evil and the test and scourge of man, even urges us to kill our passions. I wouldn’t kill my horse — for in him is power and joy and capacity which becomes mine. The body allows our control of and our enjoyment of physical things. In its appetites and powers lies danger but we have the reigns in our hands and, well-bridled, our physical bodies provide us potential to climb to heights of joy and of experience that we could otherwise never imagine.
Introduction to the final article
Thanks for joining me today, and please come back this coming Tuesday for the final article in this series, and for the final four Gifts of the Restoration that I tried to explain to the Rt. Honorable Rhodes Boyson, and the conclusion I drew about both the wrappings and the gifts of the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.
Richard Eyre is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who served as Mission President in London. He and his wife Linda are frequent Meridian contributors.