Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thorns in the Flesh

While Moroni was abridging the Book of Ether, he marveled at the powerful words of the Brother of Jared. Moroni worried that those who read his book would mock him for his awkward writing style and his clumsiness in expressing things of great spiritual import. When he brought his concerns to the Lord, the Lord told him not to fear. "Fools mock," He said, "but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness" (Ether 12:26). He followed this promise with words that are consistently comforting to me. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness" (v. 27-28).

The Apostle Paul, miraculously converted on the road to Damascus, relayed a similar experience in pleading with the Lord regarding his own weakness. "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10).

Moroni's words--and those of the prophets whose books he abridged--are great and powerful, and have been translated into over 100 languages. It was Moroni who penned the beautiful promise that has led millions to pray and ask God and thereby gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5). Paul, who complained about his weakness, wrote most of the New Testament--including great discourses on faith, grace, charity, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I have recently become more acutely aware of my weakness and inadequacy. But I take comfort in the Lord's words to His servants, "Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit; And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me" (Doc. & Cov. 35:13). The Lord has promised to uphold, defend, preserve, and even strengthen those who serve Him, no matter their weakness. He has promised that through humility, weak things can become strong; that through the Atonement, all things can be overcome. "And by giving heed and doing these things which ye have received, and which ye shall hereafter receive—and the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which are not ordained of him" (Doc. & Cov. 50:35). This He can do and He will do, if we will turn to Him. Our weak things will be made strong, and the thorns that pierce our flesh will draw us closer to our Savior who wore them as a crown.

"For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled" (Mormon 8:22).

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Prayer Roll

Several weeks ago, as I was leaving the Provo Temple, three women caught my eye. Still dressed in their temple clothes, they were standing at a table, writing names for the temple prayer roll [801-375-5775]. For some reason, I had trouble tearing myself away from the scene. The way they looked that night and the Spirit that hung around them has remained with me since then, and inspired this poem.

Prayer Roll

Had it been allowed
I would have snapped their picture
Buttoned it in my wallet
And taken it out when I needed comfort
The comfort of an eternity of women like me
Supplicating the God of the ages
Their lips murmuring the words
Like an ancient incantation

It was a common scene there
And should scarcely have warranted my notice
As I hurried past them into the fading light
Three women, their dark hair veiled in white
And their thoughts in mystery
Bent over their papers
Scrawling the name of one whose heart
Was joined to theirs in love
Dropping each slip into the box
And with it, a tiny prayer
Her heart’s whisper
Please, Father
Bless comfort heal restore defend uplift
Give life

I did not know each soul for whom they pleaded
But for many like them I had interceded
And at an altar sacrificed my will
Moments before

Had it been enough
To bless the lives of those I never knew
To call down angels to surround our circle?
To get the attention of Their Infinity
Enough to send down Heaven’s dew
And fill the water-pots we carried to our homes?

I could not know
But in my heart I stood beside these women
Reminded by their quiet green and white
Of the sorrows that must come
From the knowledge our first mother chose
And of the power they held within,
An eternal currency.

I saw them stand in ranks ten thousand long
Ten thousand times ten thousand, through the years
With women in all lands, they stood to pray
And pierced the clouds with their silent cries
Pleading for the ones they loved
As their mothers had, their grandmothers,
And back and back and back
I stood and saw their white-robed figures
Disappearing behind a thinning veil to converse
With the Ones who heard them ever.
And, watching, knew
I stood on holy ground.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

I Love To See The Temple

When I was young, I often sang words familiar to any Primary child:

I love to see the temple,
I'm going there some day

To feel the Holy Spirit

To listen and to pray.

For the temple is the house of God

A place of love and beauty.

I'll prepare myself while I am young.

This is my sacred duty.

I still love to see the temple. I love to worship inside its walls. I love to listen and to pray, to dress in white and feel the Spirit that radiates from its hallowed halls. I love the feeling of peace that I find there, a stillness best described by Paul as "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Phillipians 4:7).

I love the joy that fills the temple as heaven and earth meet and the veil grows thin. I love the power that rests on all who there prepare themselves to enter the presence of the Lord. I love the power of the priesthood that clothes all who worship at its altars. I love the ordinances that fortify me against the adversary's deception. I love the happiness that fills my heart as I go to the temple, the joy that lingers with me after I leave.

I love the temple. It is the house of the Lord. His glory fills His house. His presence rests there. His priesthood is exercised there. His children are taught there. His angels watch over and commune with all who make covenants there.

I urge you to go to the temple, to make yourself worthy and available to partake of the Spirit of that holy place. Truly it is a house of learning, of prayer, of order, of peace. It is the house of the Lord. Holiness to the Lord.

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