Personal Online Journal

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"through Christ which strengtheneth me"

Here is a good lesson from "Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement" by Stephen E. Robinson May 29, 1990. (mp3)
Sometimes the weight of the demand for perfection drives us to despair. Sometimes we fail to believe that most choice portion of the gospel that says he can change us and bring us into his kingdom. Let me share an experience that happened about ten years ago. My wife and I were living in Pennsylvania. Things were going pretty well; I'd been promoted. It was a good year for us, though a trying year for Janet. That year she had our fourth child, graduated from college, passed the CPA exam, and was made Relief Society president. We had temple recommends, we had family home evening. I was in the bishopric. I thought we were headed for "LDS yuppiehood." Then one night the lights went out. Something happened in my wife that I can only describe as "dying spiritually." She wouldn't talk about it; she wouldn't tell me what was wrong. That was the worst part. For a couple of weeks she did not wish to participate in spiritual things. She asked to be released from her callings, and she would not open up and tell me what was wrong. 
Finally, after about two weeks, one night I made her mad and it came out. She said, "All right. You want to know what's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong. I can't do it anymore. I can't lift it. I can't get up at 5:30 in the morning and bake bread and sew clothes and help my kids with their homework and do my own homework and do my Relief Society stuff and get my genealogy done and write the congressman and go to the PTA meetings and write the missionaries . . ." And she just started naming one brick after another that had been laid on her, explaining all the things she could not do. She said, "I don't have the talent that Sister Morrell has. I can't do what Sister Childs does. I try not to yell at the kids, but I lose control, and I do. I'm just not perfect, and I'm not ever going to be perfect. I'm not going to make it to the celestial kingdom, and I've finally admitted that to myself. You and the kids can go, but I can't lift it. I'm not 'Molly Mormon,' and I'm not ever going to be perfect, so I've given up. Why break my back?"
This is one of my favorite talks ever.  It brings me hope.  I came to recognize that the Savior is called this because he saves.  Robinson uses a funny illustration, "What good is it to have a savior if no one is saved? It's like having a lifeguard that won't get out of the chair. 'There goes another one down. Try the backstroke! Oh, too bad, he didn't make it.' "

I particularly like the analogy of a merger.  Me as a bankrupt small business and the Savior as a large corporation with much assets.  We merge and my liabilities merge with His assets and together we are solvent.  The merging is the covenant he uses another analogy that fits even better, Marriage.
He proposes to us a covenant relationship. I use the word "propose" on purpose because it is a marriage of a spiritual sort that is being proposed. That is why he is called the Bridegroom. This covenant relationship is so intimate that it can be described as a marriage. I become one with Christ, and as partners we work together for my salvation and my exaltation. My liabilities and his assets flow into each other. I do all that I can do, and he does what I cannot yet do. The two of us together are perfect.
I love the Savior.  I know that I am ever in need of His help.  As I work the plan of His proposal I overcome the effects of sin.  If I fall and stumble, He is there for me, if I will allow the covenant relationship to work.  If I allow Him to help me to save me from the less than good in me.

Update:  I changed the title of this post from "I can't do it" to "through Christ which strengtheneth me" from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".  I like focusing on the positive the reality of what my covenant relationship with Christ enables.  Not the inaccurate negative of the original title.  I used the original title because surrender to God is so important.

See also parable of the piano

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