Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alma 42:27 -- Choosing God and Sacrifice

"Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds."
Alma 42:27

I like the emphasis here on free agency, and our obligation to go to God, if God is indeed something that we want.  I think sometimes we get it backwards, and we think that if we stand our ground that God will eventually come to us, beg us to return, put us in a spiritual rehab program or something, and save us despite ourselves.  ... Totally not saying that God doesn't love us.  He does, and he will work tirelessly to help us see our errors, to realize the truth, to answer our questions, and help us learn to make better choices.  But he isn't going to do it for us.  Picking us up out of the gutter is temporary, and it doesn't solve the problems that got us there in the first place.  If we want an eternity with God, then we have to learn to be like him.  We can't just sit here, figuratively, literally, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, or any other way, expecting that God is suddenly going to change the rules for us and let us in anyway.
God tells us that he "cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance" (D&C 1:31).  He didn't condemn the woman taken in adultery, and he won't condemn us, but he told her, as he tells us, "go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).  Not being condemned is a long way from being saved.  It requires change, and effort, and letting go of our will and embracing God's will.
God's will is rarely what the world wants.  It is almost never what society believes in or accepts.  It's not going to win us any popularity contests.  But God's will is the only way to be saved... to find our way back to God's presence... to be truly and completely happy, for eternity.  As it says in the verse above, in the last day it will be restored to us according to our deeds.  Are we in a place where those deeds coming back looks like a good thing?  Have we repented; have we loved well enough?  If we kinda slacked our way through, are we prepared for the kinda mediocre eternity that we're preparing for ourselves?  If we've rejected God, are we okay with the rejection from him that is surely in store (Matthew 10:33)?
Today, let's think about the stand that we are making in our lives.  If we are expecting God's position to change, let's instead get on our knees in humility and ask him to please teach us how his position makes sense.  Sometimes it is really hard to understand.  We all have things that it is almost impossible to let go of.  For Abraham it was his son, and at the last minute he was spared... but sometimes our precious thing that we are placing ahead of God in our lives we do have to actually let go of.  We have to find a way to live without whatever it is, even though we can't imagine it in that moment.  Addiction, obsession, desire... whatever it is, it feels raw, powerful, and it seems to control us sometimes.  We want it to control us, so we can say this is part of me, I can't possibly part with it.  But that's what sacrifice is.  It isn't just taking a few hours to do a service project, or giving the homeless guy a couple of dollars.  It's the refiner's fire, changing us and purifying us... burning away the bad side and keeping the good side as we become our best, ideal selves.  It's not always fun, but it is always, always better than the alternative... staying that conflicted and torn forever, or, worse, letting the bad side win, and burning out the goodness.  Let's go, and sin no more.  Let's stop expecting to be compelled, and take action.  Let's realize that God's way is the only right way, and look to him for help and guidance, which he is always, always ready to give.

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