Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Addendum to Mark's "Last Testimony"

As of today, July 11, 2010, I am a five-week cancer survivor, and I’m still learning lessons of life.  When I am not unworthy, the Spirit of God is my constant companion and comfort, but I don’t always feel it with the same intensity.  On two occasions in the past five weeks, however, I have felt the Love of God in an overwhelming way.  One of those occasions was the afternoon of June 10, when I wrote my ‘Last Testimony’ which Laurel posted in an earlier message.  The other special occasion was the morning of Saturday, June 20, the day of the annual local city parade.  I went outside to see Laurel, who was waiting to watch the parade, and two sisters from the Second Ward told me, “You look really good; you are glowing.”   I don’t know what was externally visible to them, of course, but I know I was glowing internally with an overwhelming sense of God’s love for me.  Here’s what I learned from reflecting on these two experiences:

*When you’re wrapped in the arms of God’s love, it’s impossible to feel sorry for yourself—you just can’t do it.  The love of God is fulfilling—it eliminates grievances and douses feelings of deprivation.  

*When  you’re in the love of God, you can’t feel resentment toward others, or hostility to anyone.   When you are loved so completely and unreservedly, all you can do is respond in kind.   It’s simple: when you’re loved by God, you want others to be loved, too.

*When you’re in the love of God, you can’t be critical of others, only generous and forgiving.  Now, I’ve been guilty all my life of sins—large and small, both of commission and omission.  But in the time I spent caught up in the love of God, I heard nothing of that.  Instead, it was all positive:  I was shown the good things I’d done and all I wanted was to do more.  Instead of being reminded of my weaknesses and doubts, I was reminded of what I’d done to receive ‘a testimony,’ the Holy Spirit’s witness of the truth, and the times I’d been faithful to that truth.  Now, there may yet be a time for judgment.  But that judgment is sure to be based on a complete inventory of, and generous assessment of, all my strengths and accomplishments.  Most importantly, it will be done with love, based on the love of God for me.

*When you’re in the love of God, you can’t blame others because you can feel only gratitude in response.  There’s nothing to blame anyone for—everything is good!  When what you have is not just sufficient but abundant, actually in surplus, you can’t complain.  And you want to share, to be generous with others, when you are faced with such plentitude.

*When you’re in the love of God, there’s no need to sin.  I’ve learned, not from God’s love but from life, that we mortals sin because we nurse petty grievances, and justify ourselves in favored self-indulgences even though we know, in our better moments, that they not good for us, that they hurt, or cause us to neglect, others—in other words, that they are wrong.  So, everybody who sins has an excuse.  When we believe our own excuses, we are trapped; lying to others is bad, but it’s the lies you tell yourself and believe that destroy  your happiness and cripple you—all this I learned from living life outside the love of God.  What I learned from being inside that love on these two occasions is that we don’t need any of this—we can do without our grievances, our self-justification and our excuses, and be happy.

Now, I know that these five points are not mere illusions because my experience has changed me.  Since being in the love of God on these two recent occasions (which were a renewal of a few previous such experiences), I have lost my self-pity and hostility, I feel to be less critical of others, do not feel the need to blame others, or to indulge myself in sin.  I’m not yet perfected in these ways but I can see the change clearly, and that’s how I know these things are true, and the Love of God is real. May you feel it, too!     Mark

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