Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We'll Sing And We'll Shout

When a friend came to visit us on Sunday he started talking about perspective. He said that Heavenly Father is always trying to broaden and enlarge our us the whole picture of before the world was created and after we die and the far reaches of eternity, and Satan is always trying to narrow out perspective, making us think the only thing that matters is what we want right now, and making our problems seem insurmountable. As he was talking, I imagined a piece of string being stretched out flat for eternal perspective, and then Satan pulling up the center of it for where we are now, so all we can see is a big impossible hill to climb, and nothing on the other side. You can pull it straight again...and it goes much farther than you may have ever imagined. (It's also straight. And narrow.)

This friend of ours has spent years and years counseling people, listening to their problems...and their perspective. And all those years of observing other people's lives and struggles have jelled into a singular point of view that makes so much sense to me: God always wants to broaden our perspective. He wants us to have the big picture. To inform our choices. When Jesus joined the two men on the road to Emmaus the first thing he did (after asking them a couple of questions and finding out how sad they were) was to open up the scriptures and expand their understanding, starting clear back at the beginning.

At the same time, Satan and his demons strive to narrow our perspective. Just like that piece of string, he tries to turn our mountains into molehills, our successes into ego-feeding exaggerations, and our failures into a bottomless abyss. He would have us believe that this life is all there is. That we came from nothing. And we'll return to nothing. It is so disheartening how often he succeeds.

In modern times, God and his prophets continue that broadening, that expansion, by granting us an understanding of who we are, where we came from, and where we are headed. This larger view of where we are in the grand eternal scheme of things puts everything in a more realistic perspective. Our self worth, connected to Him, remains stable.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe that we are children of God, his spirit offspring, and that we existed long before we came to earth. We lived with Him as spirits before we were born.

So now we're here, and it's all about learning, and faith, and Christ, and turning our weaknesses into strengths. We are sent to families, and we form families of our own, hoping that someday these families will be together forever in an unbreakable chain.

And after we die we continue to spirits. There have been times when I've felt the presence of loved ones who have passed away, and I know this is true. We will someday be resurrected and assigned a glorious (or not-so-glorious) place in God's kingdom, according to how much progress we made here on earth. Our perspective is, at its very core, eternal.

We all have our short-sighted days. Times when we're irritable, or crippled with self-doubt...that's when we've lost that perspective. We also have those days when we feel overbrimming with joy, connected to everyone, to the universe, to the Lord. Unspeakable love. That's the result of that broadened perspective.

The temple is one of God's most powerful tools for broadening our perspective. Yesterday we attended a temple dedication. Yet another holy edifice dedicated to the Lord. His house. At the end we sang The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning and when I got to this line, I was so choked up with emotion I couldn't sing: "The Lord is extending the saints' understanding..." That's it. That's what he does. That broadening. Expanding. Eternal perspective. It was happening at that very moment. We were singing about it. And I was feeling it. I wept.