Monday, March 27, 2017

Preparing for Spiritual Enlightenment

To You:

If you had the chance to travel back in time and listen to Moses or Isaiah, Peter or Paul, would you? These were not only good men, but also men called of God as prophets. And if such a trip were possible, how would you prepare for it? I'm sure there would be some physical preparation in deciding what to pack, but more importantly, there would be spiritual preparation. How would you prepare yourself for spiritual enlightenment?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) look forward to a similar experience. We believe that there are men called of God today as prophets, seers, and revelators. They travel the world instructing congregations and leading the expansive church. Twice a year in a gathering called General Conference, these men and other leaders speak to the world in six sessions covering twelve hours over two weekends.

Many churches have similar gatherings or other holidays that they look forward to as opportunities for spiritual growth.

Today in our Sunday worship services, we were encouraged to prepare ourselves for the upcoming General Conference. We were taught that how much we prepare will be commensurate to how much we get out of the experience.

As I thought about this challenge, I brainstormed a list of ways to prepare to hear a prophet speak. If you were taking that trip back in time, or in looking forward to your own similar experience, would you do any of the following?

  • Become familiar with the faces of those who might speak.
  • Memorize the speakers names and learn about their backgrounds.
  • Read what the speakers had previously taught.
  • Make a plan for helping yourself and your children focus during the talks.
  • Review your personal notes and thoughts from similar earlier experiences.
  • Define a question or specific challenge you hope to learn about.
  • Evaluate how you had changed or grown from similar opportunities in the past.
  • Pray for guidance and growth.

Each of these activities might help us look forward with anticipation to and increase our learning from the event.

However, spiritual enlightenment and inspiration can be a daily occurrence. While a special conference or holiday is one such opportunity, we don't need to wait for one in order to learn from the Lord.

What is the key to being prepared for spiritual enlightenment? How can we invite more spiritual inspiration into our lives?

I thought about my specific list and how those activities could be organized under principles. Two ideas emerged.

In order to prepare ourselves for spiritual inspiration, we need to reflectively appreciate what we have already been given, and we need to humbly seek more.

Each of us has been given so much to learn from. We all have sacred text or scripture. Do we show our gratitude for the Lord's word by spending meaningful time in it each day? We have also each been blessed with unique experiences for growth. Do we record those life experiences and the things we learn? Do we revisit life's teaching moments? Do we give thanks in prayer and action for the lessons we have learned?

If we are not grateful for what we have received in the past, we are less likely to receive more.

We also need to humbly seek more inspiration. The moment we think we have learned it all is the moment we will stop learning completely.

Humility, in much of society, is seen as a weakness or something to overcome. We are taught to be strong and independent. Yes, we are taught it is important to listen to others, but more so in order to understand "where they're coming from" rather than because they have something valuable to teach us. Without humility, we can fall into the trap of believing we are better than others, we already have life figured out, and others do not have anything to offer us.

This pride can eventually lead us to feel that we have learned all we need to from the Lord as well. This kind of thinking includes the thought that God has already taught me all He will, now I just need to put it into practice.

Who are we to limit the teachings of the Lord? If He wants to give me more, why would I say, "No thank you?"

Instead, we ought to approach each day with an open heart and an open mind, "serving the Lord with all humility of mind" (Acts 20:19). Do we have our ears and hearts open to learn from any source the Lord might use today?

We are taught, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

What a beautiful promise! Our land can be healed! I believe this is our land as a people, but also our land as individuals and families. This is our promise if we humble ourselves, pray, seek the Lord, and turn away from the habits and actions we have learned to be wrong.

Did we pray this morning to learn more? Do we regularly pray for growth according to God's will? Did we pray for help to turn away from wrong? Do we seek the Lord's face?

I have found the teachings of James to be true: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (James 4:10). We do not even comprehend the heights to which the Lord can lift us.

As we approach each day with gratitude for lessons learned and humility of heart and mind moving forward, we send a clear message to God: I want to learn everything you can teach me. That is the soul that is prepared for spiritual enlightenment.

Love, Marielle

 What event(s) do you look forward to as opportunities to learn? How do you prepare yourself for daily spiritual inspiration? Please comment, as I love learning from you.

Interested in listening in to LDS General Conference? You can listen from home and all are invited...

While I am a well-meaning member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all views expressed are my own.

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