"The Sermon on the Mount," by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Today marks the end of Week One of my four week challenge to apply the scriptures to my life - and it has been a beautiful experience. My scripture for week one was Alma 4:15; my focus was to have the Spirit and rely on it more. The experience was so wonderful! Having the Spirit helped me to deal with challenges in a more Godlike way, love better, forgive more freely, be happier and more productive, find more ways to serve, recognize God's hand in all things, and mostly come closer the my Father in Heaven. It transformed me and showed me many more ways in which I can improve and progress.
So now, on to Week Two!
This evening I finished re-reading one of my favorite books, "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. (If you haven't read it, please do! It will change your life!) In it, she describes the horrors she witnessed in World War II and how Jesus Christ's Atonement can bring love and hope even in times of despair.
After finishing the book I sat for a moment in the rocking chair, looking up at this Carl Bloch painting of the Master. How is it that Christ can know all of the pain and suffering of this world, and still be so full of peace and love? How is it that He not only knows the evils of the world, but paid the price for them, atoning for some that may never even acknowledge or utilize the most painful of all human sacrifices? How is it that Jesus can freely love and forgive billions of people who caused His suffering? Oh, that I might be able to have such an ability to love and forgive those who wrong me in such small ways!
The miracle is, we can. Christ offers that gift to you, to me, to each of us. If you don't believe it, read "The Hiding Place." Read my last post. When we ask in faith, He provides. Or as Miss Ten Boom wrote, "When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."
One of the things I learned from this week of living by the Spirit and from reading "The Hiding Place" again is that I need more of this love.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said last October,
What attribute should define us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Let us be known as a people who love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and who love our neighbor as ourselves.
I don't think that love is the attribute that defines me yet. But I want it to.
And that leads me to my scripture for Week Two: 4 Nephi 1:15.
And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
There was complete peace and harmony in the land not because of a fabulous government, fancy clothes or even a Disneyland. This remarkably stable and happy society came because the people had the love of God in their hearts.
To me, the term "love of God" is two-fold. First, it means that we love God unabashedly, that we are willing to follow His will and keep His commandments no matter how long or hard the road. And secondly, it means that we have God's type of love for everyone and everything. In short, we love God and we love everything He has given us in a perfect, boundless way.
I admit, it is quite a daunting task, to learn to have this kind of love. But our God never forsakes.
I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ can teach me to love in this way. He learned how to do it when He hung dying on a cross. He taught Joseph Smith to do it when his family and followers were mocked, persecuted and driven from their homes. He taught the Ten Boom family to do it when all of Europe was scarred by war, famine, abuse and some of the most horrifying events in all of human history. He taught me a small portion of it last week when I asked Him to help me forgive those who had wounded me.
And I know that He will teach me to love in this way too.