Monday, June 2, 2014

Peace and Virtue--Holiness to the Lord

Today in Relief Society we discussed what it means to be endowed with power in the temple. As people in the class spoke and shared their thoughts, I fondly reminisced about my activities at the temple the day previous. I attended the temple with one of my roommates in the early morning, rushing out the door to not cause a conflict with my roommate's work schedule. Later on that day I went back with another roommate, this time to enjoy the beautiful temple grounds. The pink roses were in full bloom and were absolutely gorgeous! We laid on the grass behind the temple; my roommate took a nap and listened to an audio book while I read my own book. The breeze took the edge off of the hot rays from the summer sun, and I enjoyed the peaceful serenity of the temple with my roommate--the feeling of home and safety, of really being home and safe.

The temple is a symbol of beauty and virtue. The temple is dedicated to God. It is kept clean and pure to welcome His holy presence, that it may be worthy of His constant embrace.

As I thought about the day previous, and the many, many times I have been endowed with power in the holy temples of God, I realized that I find peace and relief in beauty, and in virtue--not just in holy temples, and on temple grounds, but in everything that is beautiful and virtuous. I realized that peace is power, and that virtue is also power.

I can recall specific times when I have removed myself from an unholy environment or situation and found such unexpected power and peace and even joy distill upon my body, mind and heart, relieving my spirit from the initial suffering at having to separate myself as a recluse--preferring companionship, but unwilling to let companionship take precedence over conviction and love of God. God is first, or at least I hope to make Him so in my life, and to faithfully repent when I fail to honor and love Him as I desire.

I can recall specific times when worthy music, and even the thought of beautiful and virtuous music, has filled my heart with joy and sweet release from the cares and burdens of daily life, empowering and invigorating my heart, body and soul.

That which is beautiful and virtuous is inspiring, ennobling, and increases our love of God and of all men. All men.

The temple has an ennobling effect. When I am in the temple I tend to sit a little taller, and think a little clearer. Some people say that the world leaves their thoughts when they enter the temple. For me, it takes some time to settle my mind. As I focus on the meaning of my temple covenants, peace of mind comes as I connect to the powers of heaven, and receive answers to my questions and concerns that trouble my heart. It happens every time. Every time.

When I walk outside the temple doors my step is more confident, sure, and free than when I walked in. I have left my burdens behind me, and I see the world through new eyes (Mosiah 24). The joy of life inside my soul brings light and color and definition to the world around me. The beauty of my surroundings shine with refreshing brilliance; peace, serenity and appreciation for even that which had troubled me before entering the temple exude from my soul. I am changed. I am new, made new through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Oh isn't it wonderful? Isn't it a miracle?

The prophet Ezekiel (to my knowledge) recorded the Lord's promise of renewal to those who seek His sanctifying power:

"a new heart . . . will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them . . . and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will . . . save you from all your uncleannesses" (Ezekiel 36: 26-29; 11: 19-20).

Isn't it wonderful and a miracle?

I wonder, how would I be different if I attended the temple more frequently? How would my relations be different? I wonder. I know I would be stronger. In many ways. For that is the promise. And it is sure. There is no room nor reason to doubt the change that is wrought in my being each time I in faithfulness attend. Why and how could I ever question such an intimate expression of God's love?

And yet the battles of the journey do stir up questions and even doubt/disbelief. In faith I respond with hope. I do not know, but I do know of my experience. And I know of my hope, which leads me through life's pastures--its valleys and shadows, its joys and its sorrows, through heaven and hell, its mountains and ravines--to a more desirable state of glory, truth, and incomprehensible beauty.

I hold on with hope. I believe in holding on with hope to the word of God, as a rod of Iron leading to the living waters, as I traverse through this life to the next. If I had a chance to get up and bear my testimony during fast and testimony meeting today, that is what I would of said. I am so grateful for the hope I have in Christ.

God is my witness, and the Spirit is my guide, and my Savior, well, He is my everything. I am nothing without Him; less than nothing.

May we all discover the blessing of God's grace, and enjoy the beauty surrounding us in clarity through the purity and virtue of Christ our redeemer. May the magnificence of His life enliven our hearts and minds to one day see as we are seen, and know as we are known, "having received a fulness of his grace" (D&C 76: 94).

I believe that we are daughters and sons of a living and loving God, our Heavenly Father, whose work and glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1: 39). There is nowhere on Earth where I can know my divine worth as a daughter of God as profoundly as in His holy temples--where His beauty and magnificence is preserved and treasured, and set apart from a fallen world that continues to crucify His Beloved Son and faithful disciples.

May we choose to believe. May we choose to hope. May we choose to hold to the rod, the word of God, that I believe--and have good reason/cause to believe--will lead us safely home.

This is my prayer.