Thursday, May 19, 2011

Some Thoughts I've Had This Week

This week, I went on a retreat for a volunteer activity I'm involved in now.  There were your typical getting-to-know-you games, funny confessions of embarrassing moments, a meat-and-cheese sandwich lunch, skits, the whole, Mormon-roadshow nine yards.  It was a really fun day that has me excited to work with the other volunteers for two hours a week.

At the end of the retreat, there was a congregational meeting and spiritual thought given over the power of volunteering and the similarity to the Atonement that service to others has.  It was a pretty good meeting, one that made me feel good for volunteering, but there wasn't anything too earth-shaking or faith-affirming given in the meeting until the very end.  A video about the Atonement was shown, and if I'm honest, it wasn't a video I was really interested in watching.

Lately, spiritual experiences have been very bitter for me.  Part of that is related to my current status as a sinner, but much of it comes from this feeling of abandonment I've felt for the last few weeks. I know that Heavenly Father will never forsake me, and yet, for the last several days, I've felt lonely and depressed.  I've spent some nights checking my phone and my Facebook every three minutes, hoping someone texted or someone sent me a message or a chat.

In any case, the video about the Atonement played.  I experienced every emotion I expected: marvel at the Savior's strength in the Garden, shock and horror at the awful events on Golgotha, joy and peace on Sunday morning, and hope that someday I too can experience that peace in real life.  But after the video, a quote was shown on the screen.  It was taken from an address given by then-Elder Henry B. Eyring:

"Whether or not you choose to always remember Him, He will always remember you."

What a perfect way to end the meeting!  I felt real tears, rather than the rote ones from before, begin to wet my eyes.  I could feel my throat choke up a little bit.  My body's twitching and fidgeting began to subside.  A strangely bitter peace washed over me: bitterness for the lack of reverence I've had lately for my Savior, but peace knowing that He would wait for me to come to Him.

Then, a few days later, at the campus devotional, one of the hymns was, "Master, the Tempest is Raging."  A line in the chorus struck me:  "No waters can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies."

Am I a ship wherein the Master lies?  If so, then nothing can swallow me up.  I fully admit that I have lots and lots of work to do in that regard, but if I strive to be a vessel in which the Lord can dwell, then what need have I to fear?

 Robert C. Oaks, a former member of the Quorum of the Seventy, has this to say on the matter:

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel of fear; rather it is a gospel of joy, peace, and hope."


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