Saturday, November 20, 2010

Higher Love

I wondered recently how God's love differs from the love we experience as mere mortals. Surely His love has an intensity we cannot even imagine. A love so great "that He gave His only begotten Son.." and delivered him up to be scourged for the sins of all mankind - and not just this earth - all mankind everywhere. According to the Pearl of Great Price, the size of  "everywhere" means that if you numbered the grains of sand in millions of earths like this it would only be a beginning to the creations of God. Countless trillions times trillions of worlds, and I may be far off the mark in my estimation. Bottom line - we cannot even comprehend that kind of "everywhere" right now. Its too huge. And so is the scope of the Atonement. Its too huge to imagine.

Love is so important that the first two (and greatest) commandments have to do with love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." I think that shows where God ranks love in the scheme of things. I think it also shows how deep God's love really is. He asks us to love Him with all our 'heart, mind and soul', so that must mean He also loves us with all His 'heart, mind and soul'. I don't think we can comprehend how strong that love is. And it is far beyond the romantic love so much of humanity is consumed in pursuing, and on which we sometimes waste and corrupt our lives. This is a "Higher Love" - something different and far more transcendant and pure. An Eternal kind of love.

Elder Uchtdorf gave a talk on love recently, and I'd like to quote part of his address:
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk


Since “God is love,” the closer we approach Him, the more profoundly we experience love....However, seeking God with all our hearts implies much more than simply offering a prayer or pronouncing a few words inviting God into our lives. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” We can make a great production of saying that we know God. We can proclaim publicly that we love Him. Nevertheless, if we don’t obey Him, all is in vain, for “he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become “born again … [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”

Heavenly Father’s love for His children is the core message of the plan of happiness, which plan is made active through the Atonement of Jesus Christ—the greatest expression of love the world has ever known.

How clearly the Savior spoke when He said that every other commandment hangs upon the principle of love. If we do not neglect the great laws—if we truly learn to love our Heavenly Father and our fellowman with all our heart, soul, and mind—all else will fall into place. Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple.

A few important points he made that struck me -


First, we cannot separate God and love. To experience Higher Love, we must draw closer to God. I have a problem with this sometimes. I think at times I'm reluctant to get close to God. Maybe its because of my own feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness, but there are times when I hold back rather than fully embrace.

Second, obedience is a measure of our love for God. When we truly love Him then we will be motivated to obey His commandments out of LOVE. This is in stark contrast to obedience out of fear or obligation or social circumstance. It gives us a yardstick by which to measure the maturity of our love. I'm afraid I have a long way to go in this regard.

Last is the thought that everything else falls into place when we get this first - and most important - principle right. Maybe I focus too much on the 'peripheral' things, and not what's really at the core of it all. Am I letting myself get distracted by things that really don't matter a lot in the long run? I think many times I do.

So I have a lot to think about here. A lot to pray about. Perhaps this is a time to get back to basics and focus on what matters most. Love.



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Touch

I got the new version of the Ensign today that includes all the conference talks. I always look for ward to this. But this time it struck me how much I enjoy actually HAVING it, not necessarily just reading it - I'm talking about the tactile feeling of a magazine. Its something you can touch and experience in such a human way. The smooth feeling of the cover, the smell of the ink, the rustling sound of the paper as you turn the pages.  There are multiple dimensions to it. You can bend it, roll it up or dog-ear a corner if you like. Or take a pen and underline something special to you. In a way its malleable - you can do what you want with it to make it truly yours.

In this hyper-electronic age its more and more common for us to read words on a computer monitor. There are advantages to that, of course (this is a Blog, for goodness sake!) , but there's also something missing in that experience. Its the touching. Humans need touch - we love it! Its an essential part of our nature. Its so important that if an infant is deprived of touch for very long it will develop serious emotional, developmental, and social problems. Its unhealthy not to be touched.

But in our society we're depriving ourselves of the opportunity to touch and interact in the most basic of human ways. Everything is becoming virtual, electronic, drive through, swipe a card, click send. I can't talk to a fellow blogger and pat him on the shoulder or give him a hug. I can't look him in the eyes or pick up the subtle body language that would occur in a face-to-face exchange. I can't smell his clothes or hear his voice or appreciate the way he smiles. Its a sterile exchange, and leaves me wanting. We're losing touch...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Freudian Slips

After posting about my Bishop last week it got me thinking about experiences with Bishops - good and bad - over the years. In general I've had good Bishops. My first Bishop was an amazing young man who sacrificed seemingly everything to get us a Chapel to meet in. This is back in the day you had to earn most of the construction money locally. He drove 1600 miles to SLC in his broken-down Plymouth station wagon to petition the Brethren about a building, and I think he did that about six times! Such devotion! He was great with the youth, too. Really participated.

Another favorite Bishop had like 10 kids and was really dynamic, and I remember his wife being just as dynamic as he was. He was the Bishop four separate times I think - almost like a permanent calling. Cool guy. He's now a Patriarch.

Most of the others have been average men, average Bishops - nothing to write home about. A couple were negative experiences (saving that for another post).

The last three Bishops, however, have been the most exceptional of all. All three of them have become dear friends. The first is now my Stake President, and we have had business dealings together. I'm very close to his family, and we hang out together whenever we can.  The second is the Bishop I came out to a few years ago, and we reamin close. His kids work on my mini-farm and we get together every Christmas. Probably the most patient man I have ever met in my life. Then there's the current Bishop who I described previously. He's without a doubt the most open minded and fun-loving of the lot. Just delightful to be around. I can be very frank with him about how I'm feeling, on any subject. We use "dude-speak" with each other, and even have silly names for each other. I call him 'Homie", and he usually calls me 'MoHomie"! Yea, this is my Bish!!

So one day I call up the Bish and he happens to be driving in the car with his family. I say enthusiastically, "Hey, dude! What you up to?" and his reply back was, "Hey there HOMO!" Yep, the old Freudian slip! Not 'Homie', not 'MoHomie', it was the dreaded 'HOMO!' I knew he knew it instantly, and he stammered and choked a second and then said, "I mean Homie, Homie!!" Well, I just had to start laughing! And laughing!! And I couldn't stop laughing! It was so funny and his reaction was so - maybe futile is the only word. He just called me a HOMO in front of his whole family! It was priceless.

Now I fully believe we need to have a sense of humor in this life in order to make it through with any semblence of sanity. And I think you can find humor in just about anything. I think God himself must have a great sense of humor to put up with all of us, but that's another subject. Anyway, I try to laugh at myself as often as I can, and hopefully surround myself with friends who can laugh along with me. If one of them is the Bish, then that's a real bonus. Life is so much better when we laugh!