Monday, November 23, 2009

"I Have Obtained a Land of Promise"

Yesterday, at the end of our ward's primary program, I was asked to give some closing remarks. I did, and I shared what I felt most impressed about: the topic of eternal families applies to all members of the Church, both those who have begun to enjoy healthy family relationships now and those who do not currently enjoy that association. The following are some of those "ah, I should have said this too" sort of things.

1) No one fully enjoys the blessings of eternal family relationships yet. The Prophet Joseph Smith revealed that:
1 When the Savior shall aappear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a bman like ourselves.

2 And that same asociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with beternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. (D&C 130:1-2)
The full blessings of eternal families, coupled with eternal glory, are not currently enjoyed by any in this telestial world. Those are blessings for us to look forward to receiving in a celestial world, and for which we qualify ourselves now by desiring them, praying for them, and working for them.

2) However, although they are blessings of the future, we can begin to enjoy them now through faith. We should remember that for our kind Heavenly Father all things past, present and future are all a beautiful, present reality:
for God and his angels reside "on a globe clike a dsea of glass and efire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.

8 The place where God resides is a great aUrim and Thummim. (D&C130:7-8)
When Lehi and his family suddenly found themselves hanging out in the desert, and when by mortal perception everything appeared to have fallen apart in their family, Lehi had this farsighted faith which included the promised future as a present reality. In 1 Nephi chapter 5 we read how Sariah began to (quite naturally) fret over the potential loss of their sons who had returned to Jerusalem to get the brass plates. She was focused on the mortal moment. She was only considering that which she could see. If only temporarily, she had forgotten the promised future. Lehi consoled her and revealed how his faith in a promised future was already bringing him current happiness, even when all seemed to be lost:

I know that I am a avisionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a bvision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.

5 But behold, I have aobtained a bland of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I cknow that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness.
Note Lehi's use of present tense. For him, the Lord's promised future blessings were not potentialities, but wonderful present realities. Of course, they were still contingent upon his diligence - the promised land wasn't going to fall into his lap - he still had eight more years of wilderness hiking to go - but he knew that his worthiness was in his control. The only blessing that was going to be denied him now was the blessing he denied himself by losing faith and throwing in the towel. No. Lehi wasn't giving in to the apparent circumstances of the mortal moment. He saw beyond it, and rejoiced as though the future had already happened.

We can be like Lehi, when the mortal moment presents apparent shortcomings from the ideal in our life. We can say, "I have obtained an eternal family" because the Lord has promised it.

3) Lastly, I thought it's worth noting that this great blessing of eternal family relationships is a fruit of the Atonement of Christ. Every blessing we receive is a fruit of the Atonement, but for me I most especially appreciate those related to eternal life and exaltation. No one could have a happy family if it were not for the Atonement of Christ, neither here on earth nor in eternity.

We qualify for this blessing the same way we qualify for the miracle of forgiveness, peace, or any other celestial blessing: by hungering and thirsting after it, pleading for it, offering a broken and teachable heart to the Lord, and living for it the best we can, trying earnestly to follow every commandment we can get a hold of.

And, like forgiveness, peace, and all other blessings that are the Lord's to bestow, the blessings come in his own due time. This life is divinely created "in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things" and organized intentionally to encourage spiritual growth. Exerting faith by earnestly yearning for blessings and having hope that if the Lord has promised them then they can already be considered "obtained" is how we grow. It's all part of the plan.

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