Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thank God for the People of the Light (AL)

Is the gospel really good news?

Yes, to me it was wonderful news, when I became a convert. You see, I had thought everything in the world was dirty and corrupt. I thought nobody was honorable, and me the lowest most despicable person of all. I had tried and tried to become the person I wanted to be, the person who lived up to all my ideals, and time and again I had fallen short, to the point that I had lost all hope. I was mired in disappointment and sorrow, seeing everything as bleak and cheerless in all the corridors of human discourse. I despaired of my species, and of myself. I wished for nothing so much as black nothingness forevermore. Anything to blot out this gray dreary horror of living. I collected up, like Vanya Karamazov, tales of the most brutal, evil, despicable deeds done against the innocent. I knew there could be no God, for how could he allow such things to happen? And if he did somehow allow them, then I cared nothing for any secret plan he might have to justify them. No conceivable plan could be worth such horrors. If God allowed those things then he was an evil God, and I wanted nothing to do with him.

But then I met some people who seemed unlike the rest of humanity. People who spread light wherever they went. Religious people. I had always thought people like that were rather simple minded or ignorant. Good people, but not very intelligent, maybe. I had always dismissed their fantastic tales, the wild theories with no hard evidence to back them. That was not a direction I had ever thought to consider seriously. I wasn’t like that, all pie-in-the-sky hopeful and willfully blind. I saw the truth, I thought. I faced grim reality, rather than making up pleasant fairy tales with which to comfort myself.

But the people of the light finally opened a tiny chink in my armor of cold rationality. I finally realized that I was hopeless and didn’t have a clue how to live. They seemed so happy and good, though humble and not at all pushy. They always had something to share, some joke or happy story of something that happened in their strong and loving families. My own family had been rather bitter and harsh, at times, and still was. Put-downs were the way it operated, with force and dominance games, and lots of mutual contempt. We constantly butted heads and wills. Not so these families of the light people. Everyone seemed to respect each other in their families and indeed loved each other, showing it constantly in numerous ways.

I was struggling, and they were praying for me. I was warmed by that, though I felt sure they were deluded. Deluded that anyone was listening to their prayers, and surely deluded that there was any hope for a sad case such as myself.

Finally at my darkest hour, I cried out for divine assistance, desperate enough and crazy enough to try, feeling silly and childish, but still calling with all my strength. Somehow it had dawned on me that it was just barely possible that those people were telling the simple truth about where all that power and joy they had was coming from. Somehow I hoped without hoping, believed without believing, enough to cry out for succor with all the energy of my soul.

An answer came instantly. I was calmed, and peace enveloped me. My mind eased. The situation suddenly became not so intolerable after all. I felt unaccountably sleepy. Drying my tears, I went to sleep. Since then the divine presence has never completely left me. I feel it more powerfully at some times than at others. It eventually led me to the church, and into the waters of baptism. From the day of my confirmation, my baptism by fire, the Holy Spirit has not left me entirely. If I ever start to stray or slack off, I know exactly what I need to do to get it back. I pray with my whole heart, read scriptures, strive to follow the commandments to the best of my ability, and I’m again made whole. I’m renewed. I’m healed in spirit and feel peace and that infinite love.

I’m a child again, and the whole world is bright and new, innocent and sweet as a newborn kitten, with all the promise of joy and beauty and solid contentment as that first day of summer back when we were small, when the days and weeks of careless play stretched into the future as far as we could imagine.

So yes, absolutely the gospel was and is unalloyed good news to me. I’m so lucky that I can never forget that truth now. I’m so blessed with this limitless faith. It’s a marvelous gift of life. A well that never goes dry. It’s all the metaphors in the bible, and more. It’s beautiful, plentiful, plain and precious good news.

Submitted by Sister B.

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