Well, last week I had a dream that led me to tears. Although the content of the dream is irrelevant (simply because it wouldn't make sense to most people since it was about my life), the message the Lord was giving me is vital and also universal. In short, God showed me what my biggest idol is, and I was shocked! As I began to understand more and more what He was saying to me, I felt like my whole foundation was crumbling. All I could do was cry.
The Lord showed me the greatest idol standing between Him and me is myself. It took me almost an entire week to figure out (through revelation) exactly how I am my own idol and how to rectify the situation. During this time, as I was praying for understanding, I saw myself climbing up a cliff. It was very hard work, but eventually I grabbed hold of a tree growing out of the cliff and I hung onto the tree. I could go no further. I didn't know how to continue climbing. The cliff was too steep and I had no where to go. I then heard Jesus who was standing at the bottom of the cliff saying, "Let go! Fall! I will catch you!"
How scary it is to lose control! How frightening it is to let go and let yourself fall! Knowing Jesus will catch you requires faith and trust.
As I have been on this path of sanctification, I have done everything I can to become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). I have stopped various sins and tried to change my habitual behavior into something Christlike. But, through this dream I now understand even more that on my own, I will never become sanctified. I also get why I have not been able to entirely overcome some of my weaknesses.
I need to rely on Jesus more. I need to let go of trying to become pure on my own.
Too often we like to maintain our image that we can handle everything and we have it all together. We are in control. But, God wants us to see that we really don't and He wants us to realize that we do need help. We can't do it alone! We need Him!
My little boy, Nathan, is almost two and he is at the stage where most of the time he does not want help. He thinks he can do it alone. So, from a very young age, we tend to celebrate self-reliance and our ability to do things by ourselves. With many things in life, this is necessary. However, it seems to feed into our spiritual lives too, where we want to sort out our own salvation, with God just watching or giving us a little guidance here and there.
Of course, I need to work on overcoming my sins, but God is desiring me to draw nearer to Him and allow Him to change my heart. No matter how hard I work at it, I cannot be made pure without Him.
And so as I have begged for further understanding on how He wants me to lean on Him, I have come to understand that He wants me to forget myself and simply love others. All day every day I have been thinking about how to use a particular situation to become sinless. Instead, the Lord wants me to stop thinking about myself and focus on just loving others.
As I love others, I am able to fulfill the greatest commandments: love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-39). As I do this, the Lord said He will help me overcome these weaknesses and sins I have not been able to eradicate on my own. He will help me become purified.
As I have thought about ways in which I self-worship, I realize that every time I sin, I am choosing me over another person. I am choosing to give into my own carnal, fleshy desires instead of considering the needs and feelings of others. Sin is inherently selfish.
In the past I have struggled with malice. When I am treated unkindly, I have wanted them to know what it feels like to be treated in that way and I am tempted to do the same back to them. I am choosing to satisfy my own carnal nature if I am unkind to others. I have also struggled with jealousy. There are things others have that I have wished for myself, instead of rejoicing in the fact that they have something wonderful. Pride is another sin I have wrestled with. I have felt satisfaction from my own achievements and accomplishments. It makes me feel good about myself. This has led in the past to bragging, another sin. Then there is dishonesty, where I have deceived someone in viewing something in a particular way instead of allowing them access to the truth. These sins and every other you can think of revolve about "me" and what "I" want. We engage in them because we choose ourselves, rather than truly loving God and others.
When we focus on ourselves, this focus comes between us and God--we cannot draw closer to Him, unless we eliminate our selfish, carnal natures, because as we sin, we are showing God we love ourselves and our desires more than Him.
When we repent (and forsake our sins), we begin to let go of our selfish tendencies. Then, as we plead with God to fill us with charity for others, we focus solely on others and their needs. Sin and charity are opposites of each other.
Of course, loving God means I choose to obey Him completely. I am then choosing to be sinless because committing sin shows my love for other things rather than Him. And, loving others means I choose to be patient with them. I choose to be long-suffering and kind. Having pure and perfect charity enables us to live all the other commandments God has given us. My desire is to do the Father's will because I love Him and I love others. This is what in the end will enable me to become pure and holy before Him.
Furthermore, how much do we dictate what, when, how to worship God? How often do we determine what and how we will sacrifice for Him? When we determine what we will do with our time, when we will do things, how we will do things instead of asking God His will, we are placing our will and our desires ahead of Him: What does God want me to do today (or now)? How does God want me to use my time today? How does God want me to love people? What should I sacrifice today?
The minute we deviate from God's will we show Him we want control and we know what we are doing, instead of being "fools before God," acknowledging that He knows all (2 Nephi 9:42). When we make decisions without consulting the Lord, we place our will and idol of self before God.
Jesus lived his life in such a way that everything He said and did revealed His attitude of "Thy will be done" (Matthew 26:42; John 5:19; John 10:30; 12:49). Nothing was about Jesus. Everything was about the Father. As a result, He allowed people to feel the Father's love for them by every action and every word.
Truly loving God and loving others can only be done as we eliminate ourselves from the picture. This requires overcoming our sins and loving as God would love. This demands that we seek to know and do the will of the Father in everything. We do things His way! Not our way!
When we metaphorically look in the mirror and see His image in our countenance, we no longer possess the idol of self. We can see Christ because everything we do and say reflects what He would do.
After my dream last week and what the Lord showed me regarding me hanging onto the side of cliff, I have decided to eliminate my self-worship and aim to love others more fully. So, instead of constantly trying to figure out ways I am sinning or not sinning, I focussing my attention and energy on simply loving others and following everything God tells me to do. I know that as I plead to feel God's love for others, He will help me do so (Moroni 7:48). Love is the great purifier! Through loving others, I can become purified and overcome all my sins.