Friday, April 4, 2014

Mormon 9:14-15 -- On Being Happy Now

"And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.
And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles."
Mormon 9:14-15

The idea that we are judged based on who we are is fascinating, and I think that it shows us so much more what our goals are in this life.  The idea isn't just to get to the finish line with a heartbeat... although it is a great image of perseverance, still crawling though beaten and scarred and half dead. :)  Too often I think we consider "endure to the end" to be that sort of a thing.  We can make it beaten and bloody and worn out... in pain all the way, and finally get to rest.  And I am not saying that God will not grant us rest.  I think he will... but the idea in these verses is a little bit different than the scenario pictured.  Here we learn that if we are dirty or righteous or happy or unhappy in the end, we will *still* be those things after the judgement.  So, we can't reach the end crawling through the mud and in pain, or theoretically, we're going to be in pain and muddy for a while. :)  In one way, this seems like an additional burden... "What?  I don't just have to get there and collapse?  I have to do more than that?"  But in another way, it is so much more hopeful.  "Oh... this life *isn't* just here for us to suffer through.  I get to be happy now?"
And I think that is God's message for us.  We get to be happy NOW.  Today, in this life.  Man is that he might have joy, and we don't have to wait until the afterlife for that happiness.  The judgement restores to us the things that we have learned to be.  And so, with everything that we are, we should be striving for exactly the same things that we want in eternity.  The idea of painful suffering and crawling with the last of our strength to the end of our lives is a popular one, but also a dangerous lie.  It gives us the totally wrong idea about what life is, and we can start believing that only actions matter.  That our inner turmoil and suffering will just go away on its own, as long as we force ourselves to crawl to that finish line.  And then somehow we think it is all over and we get to finally rest on a fluffy cloud forever as our reward for suffering.  But that isn't what life is about, and God doesn't want us to suffer.  He wants us to overcome suffering and find happiness.  He wants us to take all of that stuff that makes us unhappy and instead of crawling through it for a lifetime, he wants us to kick it to the curb and find better stuff to do with our lives.  Actions do matter, of course, but so do our inner attitudes and our emotional choices.  We have to find a way to be happy... now.  In this life.  And instead of looking at that as an additional burden, let's move on to the next verse.  Sometimes we imagine God to be just a cheerleader... flipping a few pom poms and encouraging us as we crawl to the finish line.  But he is more than that.  He can change our hearts, if we allow him to.  He can help us to learn inner happiness.  He can take away the pain and help us to learn how to win those internal wars that we sometimes believe we will have eternally.  God can teach us to be happy.  He is a God of miracles.  No matter how long we have suffered, how long we believe we should suffer, or how torn and broken inside we are... he can help us overcome on the inside and not just the outside.
Today, let's stop crawling through our own blood to the finish line.  Let's get up, take a shower, and start thinking about who we want to be eternally.  And then let's start losing the defeatist attitude.  Let's throw away the stuff that is dragging us down.  Let's not believe that we have to suffer for a lifetime, and start believing instead that we can change... change anything, and become NOW who we want to be then.  We don't have to accept all of these limitations and challenges or all of this pain and suffering in this life.  We can overcome it.  Let's learn to be happy... now, today.  And as we are able to do that, then we will be learning that for the future too.  Let's put on our superhero capes and stop believing that we're merely mortal.  With God, we can do anything and be anything.  Let's throw away the kryptonite and move on with our lives, happy and clean and ready for eternity.

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