Love, Light and Forgiveness
Last week a sister in my ward (congregation) asked me to substitute teach her lesson this week (today). I felt guided by the Spirit in my preparation of this lesson and felt that I should share it here. I do not take credit for this lesson as it was given to me by the God through the guidance of the Holy Ghost. This lesson was most likely meant for me and not so much for the other sisters in my ward. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to prepare this lesson and for the opportunity I will have in 11 hours to teach it to the other sisters in my Relief Society.
"Every one of us can be guided by the spirit of revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost."
I had to read this talk 3 or 4 times before I understood what the title and the tagline had to do with the rest of the talk, since in my initial readings I only saw him mention past revelations and then talk about it for a little while. When I got half way through the talk, the entire talk seemed to take a whole new direction and focused on the story of the patriarch whose wife passed away a few days after she gave birth to their first child from the same disease the country doctor had been treating another patient right before he came to deliver the baby. As a young widow, this man became embittered and as his grief festered, his bitterness became threatening... until one night a little girl knocked on his door and said, "Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you." "Daddy" was the stake president - and his counsel was, "John, leave it alone. Nothing you do will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone."
I understood how this was another example of someone (the stake president) being guided by the spirit of revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost - but when President Packer went on finish his talk on this note:
"If you are carrying some burden, forget it, let it alone. Do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and confirmed by the testimony that you did not know existed. You will be watched over and blessed—you and yours. This is an invitation to come unto Him. This church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth,”22 by His own declaration—is where we find “the great plan of happiness.”23 Of this I bear witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
So as you can see.... I had somewhat of a trying time figuring out what the title and the tagline to this talk had to do with the actual text of the talk - especially since I recently was offended by my brother-in-law. I had a really hard time forgiving him and even after I learned the rest of the story behind his actions and realized it was a COMPLETE MISUNDERSTANDING. As I read this talk over and over and listened to it a couple of times while driving around running errands, all I could think about was, "Great. This is the lesson Cheryl had me substitute teach - obviously God is trying to tell me something. But how is this going to benefit the rest of the sisters in the ward?" I began to really pray to find out what Heavenly Father wanted me to focus on in this talk.
The next night as I was reading through this talk yet again (I had read it once that night and then immediately started over to read it again), I noticed for the first time the paragraph that directly precedes the story of the patriarch who, as a young widow, was counseled by his stake president to 'Let It Alone'.
"Latter-day Saints are taught to love one another and to frankly forgive offenses."
Since I had just read the article before re-reading it, I remembered what it said in the closing paragraph and finally saw the connection between the two: if we want to experience fully being guided by the spirit of revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost, then we MUST truly love one another and 'frankly forgive offenses'. If there is a burden we are carrying, then we need to "Do a lot of forgiving and a little repenting, and you will be visited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and confirmed by the testimony that you did not know existed."
The phrase that just popped into my mind after I typed the last sentence was, "cease to find fault one with another." I did a search for it on lds.org and along with that scripture, two more came up:
D&C 42: 27 "Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm."
Over and over this week as I was preparing this lesson it has been drilled into my heart and my mind that we can NOT receive a full measure of the Holy Spirit and his attendant guidance and spirit of revelation if we harbor dark, ugly and mean thoughts about or towards another person or incidence. I want to bear a simple testimony to you sisters that I know what I have prepared to share with you is what the Spirit guided me to share. My first hope in the outcome of my lesson is that the Holy Ghost will be your teacher and that you will let him teach you the lesson you need to learn in Relief Society today. My second hope is that you will immediately act on any promptings or inspiration you receive during this lesson. Please write down any prompting that comes to mind during the lesson so that you do not forget it after our block of meetings today.
Now, for the rest of the lesson, I want to focus our attention on scriptures found in Doctrine & Covenants section 88 that really seem to drive home the eternal importance of loving one another and frankly forgiving offenses.
To start off, in the first 4 verses the Lord talks about the Comforter he has sent and that it is, "even the Holy Spirit of promise". Then for the next 9 verses he talks about the Savior and how he is the light of truth - verse 12 says, "Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space."
Jumping over to section 50 for clarity on this of Christ being the light and the idea that we should not hold onto grudges or past offenses, verses 23-25 teach,
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;
Back to section 88, verses 49-50:
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound.
When we hold onto grudges we are filling our souls with darkness. Darkness and light can not occupy the same space - that is true in the spiritual world just as fully as it is true in the physical world.
Verse 62 seems to be a preparatory instruction for the next chunk of scriptures:
And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near—
Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Verses 67-68 and 74-75
67And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
68Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
74And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;
75That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.
In the next chunk of scriptures, some of the events of the Second Coming are highlighted in which the 7 angels each 'sound his trump in the ears of all living, and reveal the secret acts of men,' during each of the angels' assigned dispensations, culminating with the seventh angel, who: shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years. (verse 110)
Sisters, may I postulate the idea that we do not have to wait for the 7th angel to sound his trump before Satan is bound? By refusing to gossip about, contend with or speak evil about one another, we will bind Satan because we choose to not sin.
The last chunk I want to focus on is from verses 118-126. In the beginning of verse 118 it identifies why the Lord is giving the following counsel to us. It says, "And as all have not faith..." I find this an interesting identifying factor as to why the Lord gives us the counsel in the ensuing verses. I will not go into detail about each of them, only the verses that seem pertinent to the lesson. In regards to truly loving one another and frankly forgiving one another, here is the list of counsel I have surmised from this section of scriptures:
And as all have not faith cease from all your light speeches.
And as all have not faith cease from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.
And as all have not faith see that ye love one another; cease to be covetous;
And as all have not faith cease to find fault with one another.
And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.
Sisters, I know from personal experience that it is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ to let go of past grudges, hurts and offenses. Not only is it possible to let go of these dark and ugly feelings, but it is also possible to have pure charity for the person who offended us. When we give our burden to the Lord, he will change what was once black, dark and ugly into pure snow, " Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1: 18. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.