Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"The Supreme Blessing of Being Judged"

Toward the end of his talk, Our Father's Glorious Plan, Elder Weatherford T. Clayton said, "After the Resurrection we will have the supreme blessing of being judged by our Savior, who said, 'I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.'"

When I heard that, I got hung up on the phrase "the supreme blessing of being judged." I thought, how could being judged be a "supreme blessing"? Even in context, knowing that we will be "judged according to [our] works" doesn't sound too promising. We all have at least a handful of "works" that we would rather not be judged by.

But maybe I'm focussing on the wrong words. Perhaps it's not a "supreme blessing" to be judged, and perhaps it's not a "supreme blessing" to be judged "according to [our] works," but it can still be a "supreme blessing" to be judged "by our Savior."

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, loves us. He loves us so much He was willing to die for us. More than that, He suffered through tremendous pain and agony, which punishment He did not deserve, so that He could spare us the punishments that we do deserve. He completed the Atonement so He could have the "supreme blessing" of judging us, not so much according to our works, but according to His mercy (and our repentance).

I'm sure that it will still be overwhelming, and I'm sure that many tears will be shed, but I think that it will be a "supreme blessing" to be "judged" by Him.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I've Got Nothing

I can't think of anything to blog about this evening. I've had plenty of thoughts recently, some of which have been fairly deep, but none of them are blogworthy. I suppose this is bound to happen periodically; one cannot expect to gain a new insight every day, though perhaps the problem is that I haven't been looking hard enough or in the right places or with the right frame of mind. I'm sure God is always willing to speak to us, if we are truly listening, but listening like that is a skill that takes a long time to develop and even longer to master. I have yet to master the skill of listening to God. Thus, having not heard the voice of inspiration in recent memory, I have nothing to blog about. I am sorry. I will try again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Many Heroes

I just watched Sully with several family members this evening. Sully is a film about the "forced water landing" of a passenger aircraft with 155 people on board. Despite losing both engines at low altitude and being unable to reach any airports to land safely, the eponymous pilot still managed to land the plane relatively safely in the Hudson river, and everyone on board survived.

But one of the most striking things to most of us who watched the film this evening was that "the miracle on the Hudson" wasn't a miracle just because of Sully. Though almost everything hinged on his expertise as a pilot, he wasn't the only hero that day. There were several crew members, both in the air and on the ground, who helped guide the plane and passengers safely. There was dozens of emergency responders who came to pick up the passengers after the plan landed on the river. All told, there were many heroes that day, and the film clearly portrayed that.

In life, there are many people who each play roles in getting things done. Even when there's one person acting as a leader or playing a critical role, the other people play important roles, too. The Elder's Quorum and Relief Society Presidents of the world may direct the work, but every member pitches in. Every helper is a hero.

Sully did an amazing job, and he saved over a hundred and fifty lives that day, but he wasn't the only one. There were countless heroes that day because countless people were there to lend a hand. I hope that each of us can be willing to do our part and lend a hand in the effort of saving souls. Our individual parts may be small, especially compared to others', but each individual makes a difference, and even if we can't do much, the world needs all the heroes it can get. There were many heroes that day, and I hope that there are many heroes every day.

Persistent Afflictions

Last Wednesday, I learned that Hector, the Human Cleric/Paladin of Lathander, is still a werewolf.
As you may recall, Hector has gone through several phases (no pun intended) of "being" and "not being" a werewolf. As soon as he was bitten, I knew there was a chance, so I prepared for the possibility of him being a werewolf. The next week, Hector rolled the dice to see whether or not he was a werewolf, and the DM informed me that he didn't feel particularly wolfy, so I assumed that Hector was not a werewolf.

Shortly thereafter, we received proof that he was one. He transformed, multiple times, in front of witnesses, proving that he was, in fact, a werewolf. After Hector failed to tame the beast within, broke free of his chains, and nearly mauled Lily, the party's Wizard, she "cured" his lycanthropy with a "Remove Curse" spell, which instantly reverted him back to human form. That was a week before last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, while exploring an ancient crypt, Hector found a silvered spearhead and picked it up. The silver of the spearhead burned Hector's skin on contact, and, as we all know, silver is the main weakness of werewolves.

Apparently, lycanthropy is not easy to cure. At least, it's not as easy as casting a 3rd level spell on the afflicted person. No real-world affliction is.

In life, we all have trials, and though we know that all our trials are temporary, that doesn't mean that they'll all go away overnight after praying about them once or twice. Miracles can happen, but usually, God lets us suffer through our afflictions long enough to learn several lessons from them, whether that means a few days, several months, many years, or whole lifetimes. Some afflictions persist with us, no matter what we do about them or how hard we pray about them.

God made life that way for a reason. Earth is the only place we've ever lived in that isn't heaven. If that is to remain true, we need to gain the knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained by experiencing afflictions. And Earth is uniquely capable of providing us with afflictions. If all our problems were solved immediately, we wouldn't have much time to learn from them or benefit from them. In the eternal perspective, we still don't. In life, we have to have persistent afflictions because we wouldn't learn as much without them.

Now, it's possible that Hector is still not really a werewolf any more. Given the number of times I've been wrong on that topic, I can't rule out that possibility. The spearhead could have been unholy, and maybe it burned his skin because he's a Paladin and evil stuff hates Paladins, but that wouldn't have made for as interesting of a blog post, and it doesn't seem very likely to me. After the discovery that the silver burned Hector, the DM informed me that curses in this campaign setting are hard to shake off.

The same is true here. Many afflictions are terribly persistent. There are lifelong illnesses and disabilities. There are addictions and bad habits that are very hard to break. There are many problems that can stick with us for what feels like forever, and that's not because God hates us and wants us to suffer. That's the other guy. God doesn't want our afflictions to last any longer than they have to, which means that there are good reasons why afflictions last so long in life. That's why there aren't many simple solutions to life's problems and why we can't just cast some magic spell and be cured of our afflictions, in most cases. That would defeat the purpose of the affliction and would, in a large way, defeat the purpose of life. We have to have afflictions so we can learn from them, and those afflictions need to be persistent because we have a lot to learn.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Guidance and Companionship

Yesterday, at Institute, the teacher asked us what we liked most about being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I chose not to answer that question because I tend to comment too much in classes, so I try to hold back and allow others to make comments and answer questions. However, if I had answered, I think I would have said "the companionship of the Holy Spirit."

I enjoy that companionship (when I'm worthy of it) for many reasons. First of all, it's nice just to have someone to talk to. Companionship, espescially the companionship of such and kind and understanding individual, is a blessing in and of itself. But more than that, the Holy Ghost is worth keeping around because of the guidance He provides. In his talk, "His Daily Guiding Hand," Elder M. Joseph Brough spoke about the guidance God gives us. He listed several tools God uses to provide us with guidance, including the Holy Ghost, saying "My prayer is that each of you will recognize in your experiences that Heavenly Father is leading, guiding, and walking beside you and, with that knowledge, you will proceed with confidence, knowing you are never really alone."

 I am grateful that I never need to be alone. The Spirit of God is always willing to be with me; I just need to try to stay worthy to be with Him. And when I am worthy to be with Him, I can receive guidance and revelation that can help me with every aspect of my life, in addition to the comfort and peace that come simply from having Him around. As Latter-Day Saints, we can be blessed daily by the guiding hands of our Heavenly Father, most especially through inspiration from the Holy Ghost. As with Elder Brough, my hope is that we will all strive to be worthy of, and thus qualify for, the companionship of the Holy Ghost, so He can comfort us, guide us, and direct us down the right paths. In my opinion, constantly having the Spirit with us is one of the greatest blessings of being a baptised member of this church. Let us always strive to be worthy of it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Two Voices

My latest D&D character is a Half-Orc named Kregg (or Craig, when he's around humans). In the D&D universe, there are multiple deities that each had a hand in creating the world. In this world, Orcs were created by a god named Gruumsh, who loves violence, and created Orcs with a burning desire to fight other creatures for no other reason than just for the sake of fighting them. Even Half-Orcs, who are typically half-human, as Kregg is, cannot fully escape Gruumsh's influence; they all feel the urge to fight. However, Kregg came to own a magical, sentient sword named Peacekeeper, who now acts as Kregg's moral compass. She telepathically teaches him a better way to behave than listening to Gruumsh. Kregg sometimes feels conflicted, hearing two conflicting voices in his head whenever a situation could, but shouldn't, be answered with violence. In this way, Kregg somewhat represents us all.

We all have at least two voices in our heads, in addition to our own. On one hand, the devil attempts to tempt us to do evil, and on the other hand, the spirit inspires us to do good. These conflicting voices can sometimes make it difficult to make choices, causing a daily struggle between right and wrong. As I roleplay Kregg, I'll make sure he chooses good more often than not, but I'll also make those choices at least as difficult for him as they sometimes are for me. That way, I can use Kregg as a sort of role model, a Paladin of Self-Control. Because if Kregg can hear good and evil voices in his head and choose to listen to the good, then maybe the rest of us can, too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Only Love That Comes Close

Despite what I said yesterday about latching onto quotes and taking them out of context, I believe that there are some quotes, perhaps many, that don't need context to be profound and worth studying. Case in point: In the first talk of the Saturday Morning Session of the April 2017 General Conference, President Eyring said "Though earthly families are far from perfect, they give God’s children the best chance to be welcomed to the world with the only love on earth that comes close to what we felt in heaven—parental love."

I believe that there's a reason why God goes by the title of "Heavenly Father." Earthly families create excellent parallels that help us understand God's love for us and why He does what He does. I'm not sure we can comprehend how much God loves us, but we can have some idea how much our earthly parents love us, and (I assume) we can keenly feel the love we have for our children. Having some grasp of the extent and power of parental love, we gain a frame of reference for imagining our Heavenly Father's love for us.

My earthly family isn't perfect. I don't think anyone's is. But I feel a good deal of love and support from my family, and it makes me think, "If my mortal family loves me this much, how much must my Heavenly Father love me?" Of course, there are differences. My Heavenly Father has a more complete knowledge of my sins and failings, and He has a lower tolerance for some of my eccentricities than some of my family members do, but I imagine that He still loves me at least as much as my mother does, and that feels like a fairly decent amount of love.

I'm blessed to have such a strong sense of love in my life, and I'm grateful that it helps me understand God's love for me. Without my family, I'm not sure I would have any real concept of what love is, and I certainly wouldn't have any way to comprehend how much love God has for me. I am richly blessed by God's love, and a big part of how I know that is because I am also richly blessed by parental love.