Thursday, July 3, 2008

Broken Bones

Our little Rebecca had a fall from the swing set the other day and injured her arm. This experience invoked many thoughts for me. I had an appreciation of her love when she clung to me so tightly afterward as I tried to console her, I felt her trust in me when she laughed and played with me while waiting for the doctor at the office but then quickly turned reticent when the doctor arrived, and I felt like my heart would break when she was terrified getting x-rays and I had to hold her in position with her pleading eyes looking up at me for relief and comfort.

This emotional situation produced a fairly obvious comparison to our relationship with God. As I observed the similarities between Rebecca and me, and me and our Father, I wondered if I trust and love as much as I should. I think I'm quick to look up when I feel down, but do I love and trust as I ought? The need to be like a child resonates here (see Matt 18:2-5).

I want to do better.

What is it that separates us (me) from God? When my thoughts, desires, and intents are not in harmony with His, I drift and lose the love and trust that I recognize that I need. More explicitly, when I sin I become unclean, and we know that "no unclean thing can dwell with God" (1 Ne. 10:21).

I'm grateful for repentance and that through Christ I can be clean. Luke attests to the "joy in heaven" when we repent, but the verse seems to place a premium on sinning and repentance over being just:

Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:7).

Can this be true? Is it better to sin than to not sin?

Recall that this verse precedes the parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-32), in which we read the reply to the just son's concern: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (v. 31).

Liz Lemon Swindle

Perhaps the question is moot considering that we all need repentance. Consider the interesting case Elder Dallin H. Oaks used in his BYU Devotional, Sin and Suffering (note the broken bone aspect):

I plead with you, my brothers and sisters, my young friends and my older friends, avoid transgression! The idea that one is better off after one has sinned and repented is a devilish lie of the adversary. Does anyone here think that it is better to learn firsthand that a certain blow will break a bone or a certain mixture of chemicals will explode and sear off our skin? Are we better off after we have sustained and then healed such injuries? I believe we all can see that it is better to heed the warnings of wise persons who know the effects on our bodies of certain traumas.

Just as we can benefit from someone else's experience in matters such as these, we can also benefit from the warnings contained in the commandments of God. We don't have to have personal experience with the effects of serious transgressions to know that they are destructive of our eternal welfare.

Shortly after this illustration, Elder Oaks recounts an experience where his son wondered if it would be a good idea to try alcohol and tobacco. Elder Oaks' response:

I replied that if he wanted to try something he ought to go out in the barnyard and eat a little manure. He recoiled in horror. "Ooh, that's gross," he reacted.

"I'm glad you think so," I said, "but why don't you just try it out so you will know for yourself? While you're proposing to try one thing that you know is not good for you, why don't you apply that principle to some others?

What can I learn from all of this? Sinning to experience the thrill of the sin is as silly as eating manure when I know that both will "taste bad." I don't need to suffer through the pain of broken bones to know that it will hurt to break them. Nevertheless, when I do sin and figuratively break bones, I know that I will be scooped up by a loving Father in Heaven, to whom I can cling close, in whom I can trust, and I know that He will love me through my tears.

1 thought:

Maryann said...

What a sweet comparison, so see the love and trust in our own children's eyes and realize what our Heavenly Father must feel about us, and his concern for us. Thank you for giving me something to think about and to look for ways of seeing everyday things in an eternal perspective. I love you!