I must be getting old. The things that used to matter to me just don’t matter that much any more. The things that matter now are things I didn’t give much time or thought to before. So, I can see that I’m changing, things are changing, priorities are changing, life is changing.
This week I have studied all about the Gospel Doctrine lesson. We’re on Lesson #25 about the suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. The last two weeks, this week and next week are the very hardest lessons for me to comprehend in the whole of the New Testament. Starting with that last Passover, the Intercessory Prayer, the Garden, and then the betrayal and Golgotha. I’m telling you, I not only can’t understand, I can’t take it!
I don’t understand why the people of that time couldn’t see who Jesus was. I can’t understand the politics, the government, the customs and idiosyncrasies. I can’t understand how people missed the point. How they missed everything. And it breaks my heart.
I have never gotten past these chapters. In the past 12 years or so, I have read pretty faithfully to this point each year [On the four year cycle of OT, NT, BM and DC.] I get to the crucifixion and then I just stop reading. I put away the New Testament and instead start getting ready for the next year’s study because I’m always invested and more involved in the Book of Mormon than any other topic. Oh, wait a minute, I do love Church History as well. Old Testament I can take or leave. It’s hard for me to understand, but I did keep up last year.
This week my heart was so full! I had read and studied and listened and felt and cried. I read a little in Jesus the Christ by Talmage. I read some commentaries by several general authorities and especially by Bruce R. I felt so many things I haven’t felt before — or at least in a long time.
And today my heart was so full to nearly bursting in our testimony meeting. Jim Levine started the meeting with his powerful and sweet testimony. Steve Isom and Alan Jaggi spoke. Bishop Phil and Yanine Rollins shared. Cute Staci Harris bore her testimony. And lots of other people. We ran waaay over. There was a constant stream up to the pulpit or microphone and the bishop commented that this was the first time he ever remembers in 40 years that there wasn’t ten seconds between speakers. It. was. awesome!
I felt the spirit so strongly and just felt so darn FULL.
And then the Gospel Doctrine class started with this quote from President Boyd K. Packer, who coincidentally passed away two days ago at the age of 90. What a powerhouse! Listen:
What I shall say I could say much better if we were alone, just the two of us. It would be easier also if we had come to know one another, and had that kind of trust which makes it possible to talk of serious, even sacred things.
If we were that close, because of the nature of what I shall say, I would study you carefully as I spoke. If there should be the slightest disinterest or distraction, the subject would quickly be changed to more ordinary things.
I have not, to my knowledge, in my ministry said anything more important. I intend to talk about the Lord, Jesus Christ, about what He really did—and why it matters now.
Can you even imagine him studying you carefully!?
All of this made me realize how very important it is to do all those Primary-lessons basics. Read the scriptures, pray earnestly, do good to others, be kind, share the gospel, pay tithes and offerings, attend meetings with a good spirit, go to the temple of the Lord, and b.e.l.i.e.v.e.
I’ve had such a roller coaster of seasons of belief. But, at the moment I’m up on top and enjoying my hunger for knowledge, my hunger for faith and all things righteous. My hunger for a connection with what’s really important in this life. When I realize just how far I am from these things I’m sad, but determined to do better. I look at my mother who is everything I ever want to be, and I see this huge chasm between the two of us. Her goodness, my semi-goodness. Her non-judging, my judging. Her joy, my grief. Her deep love, my broken love.
See . . . I must be getting old, because it’s been a melancholy day full of deep and important thoughts, and many regrets, and much learning.
But hey, I’m jumping out of an airplaine in 6 days . . .