Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter--Sweet the Joy

Have you ever touched a dead person?

I have. Once.

Before my Mormon father's funeral I touched his hands as his body lay in the open casket. Dad died several days before, and that touch was silent but physical testimony that he was gone. Cold. Waxy. Dead. Not sophisticated adjectives, but in this case, momentous.

What I touched at that moment, what I saw in that casket was only the shell of my father. The living part of him, his spirit, had departed that physical body which now lay lifeless before me. The physical proof provided by that touch startled me.

In an instant, my appreciation for the doctrine of the Resurrection leaped from the realm of a bystander's gratitude into deep, personal, experiential thanksgiving for our Savior Jesus Christ and His central role in Heavenly Father's plan for our happiness.

While Heavenly Father will grant exaltation only to those who choose it (see March 9 blog), the gift of a universal resurrection is free to every single person ever born into this world. Even the most God-hating human will receive that most-graciously given gift.

Following each of our resurrections, you will be you; I will be me; my dad will be my dad; all of us in our own--but perfected--bodies. As the Book of Mormon prophet Alma testified, "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body . . . all things restored to their proper and perfect frame."

One day, I will again be encircled in the warm, living, loving arms of my resurrected dad. All because of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

What's Cookin'? You Choose

One of my college roommates was a home economics major, and I was astounded at all the chemistry classes she had to take. Turns out that in the kitchen, much of what makes a particular cooked or baked good good, is following certain rules of chemistry.

I don't come anywhere near understanding those rules. Why can you mix butter, eggs, sugar, milk and flour, put it in a hot oven, and produce a solid that stays solid? But if you leave out the flour, you get a semi-solid? What's magic about flour? The rules behind these results defy my understanding.

However, I've learned when cooking to obey the rules.

There are other rules out there that also result in certain outcomes. Pick your field--economics, physics, mental health, business--they all operate in the realm of rules.

So does our Heavenly Father. And contained within the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ, are rules for success. We call them commandments. Keep the rule or commandment, and you can count on certain results. Happy results. Break the rule, and misery is sure to follow. As a Book of Mormon prophet succinctly states it, "wicked never was happiness."

Why do these commandments work? Usually, God doesn't tell us. He just says do it. Magic? No. God just knows all the rules, and in spiritual things, success equals happiness, which comes from keeping those rules.

As Mormons we believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, if we keep the rules--including the little rule about applying Christ's atoning blood by repenting of
all those times we ignore/disregard/flagrantly break God's rules.

Want happiness? Ask a member of the Mormon Church--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--about the rules that produce it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

All May Be

Because I was a stay-at-home mom and money was tight, I gave my own children piano lessons. The more children I had, the less stellar became my teaching. My oldest two children got the best quality instruction, with things deteriorating in descending order through subsequent kids. Interestingly, however, the child who today is the best pianist is one who received the fewest (and poorest) lessons.

She was not necessarily the most gifted or suited for musicianship, but because she had the greatest interest in actually practicing and playing the piano, she now reigns supreme of my offspring on the piano. Because she chose to learn, she did.

One of the great eternal principles taught in the Book of Mormon is the principle of agency. Repeatedly that book of scripture teaches that the eternal reward we eventually reap is up to us. Phrases like "whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely" and "whosoever will may walk therein and be saved" make it clear that personal choice is key.

Other phrases, like "then shall the wicked be cast out . . . because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord" express the sad truth that some of God's children will actually choose not to return to Him.

These teachings underscore a larger, overarching Mormon belief: through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved. May be, not because there is a question of Christ's power to save, but because there is a question as to whom of the all will choose eternal salvation. While not all WILL BE saved, all COULD BE saved.

Play the piano or not: the choice is ours. Gain eternal salvation or not: the choice is ours.