Thursday, May 18, 2017

Seeing My Leprous Arm

by Nicky Smith

Imagine having an arm that is leprous. But you don't know it is diseased, because you have found ways to still use the arm. One day someone points out that your arm has something wrong with it. When someone points out something wrong with us, usually one of two things happens. [1] Either we ignore what that person said because we don't believe them, saying, "I use my arm and it works fine. There's nothing wrong with it. What an insulting suggestion." [2] Or, we look down at our arm and we see that our arm does actually have leprosy. Coming to the realization that we have something wrong with us is often incredibly painful, and at times shocking. It's not pleasant finding out our arm is leprous when we had no idea previously. We thought we were healthy. We thought that the arm worked well. 

Knowing that we have leprosy on our arm means that we can now choose to get rid of the leprosy or choose to live with it. When we choose to get rid of it, we can only do so with God's help.
A major part of progression involves coming to know the truth about yourself. Simply put, truth is knowledge of things as they really are. 
24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (Doctrine and Covenants 93)
If we don't yet see ourselves as we really are, we are spiritually blind. All of us are blind to some extent. Some are more blind than others though. Some are blind by choice (we choose not to believe our arm has leprosy or we choose to ignore the leprosy), while others seek to find out as much truth about themselves as possible (we choose to acknowledge the leprosy). Satan wants us to remain spiritually blind though because without seeing the truth about ourselves, we cannot progress. For instance, if you do not see a particular weakness or sin you have, you are not going to work on overcoming it and in order to progress, we have to see and accept truth about ourselves. And, then work on becoming like Jesus, pure and sinless. 

A couple years ago I was praying to God about something and He told me some truths about myself that were not pleasant to recognize. I was shown how far from God I am and how I am nowhere near being like Christ. I was shown my telestial nature. It was extremely painful to hear. I felt like a worm. It felt like being told by God I have a leprous arm and upon examination knowing that was true. Similarly, King Benjamin's people "viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth." (Mosiah 4:2) Coming to know such truth is humbling. It helps us get off our pedestals we have put ourselves on and acknowledge that we are indeed nothing, compared to the greatness of God. 

I was reminded of that experience (and various others) when God recently showed me some of my deeply entrenched weaknesses and sins in a few dreams I have had. It was painful to know those things. But, I am incredibly grateful for that truth too because without it I am just staggering around in the dark trying to find my way back to God. When we are given truth (either through revelation, the scriptures, or another person) it can be like a light to our soul. It can give us direction. It can show us what to repent of and help us be humble. 

Without truth showing us our true state before God, it is difficult to remain humble. Humility is a characteristic of Christ (Philippians 2:8) and we have been commanded to be humble (Romans 12:3). In fact, it is a necessary attribute to having a pure heart and seeing Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 67:10).

I am learning to be grateful for the painful truths. I am learning to always be open to them, instead of getting defensive. I am learning to ask for them to be revealed to me in some way. I know that without this, I cannot overcome all my sins and become pure. I want to stand confidently in the presence of the Lord and without knowing all the things wrong with me, I cannot do that. And that blessing is worth any pain I may endure! 

All of us have at least some "leprosy." Ask God to reveal to you your leprosy. Plead to Him to help you see yourself as you really are. He will show you! Then, be open to any truth you may receive from any source. Just because something is painful or uncomfortable to hear does not mean it is not true. The Holy Ghost can show you what is true and what is not if you truly desire to know truth. 

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