Today I was reading in Jesus The Christ, by James E. Talmage.
With recent clarity to my own rebelliousness in attending to my spiritual well-being and with all that is going on in the political arena concerning the public opinion of one vocal man, proclaiming that Mormons are NOT Christians - I have felt a strong desire to gain back the portion of my testimony that I have neglected recently. I don't like how it feels when I'm not doing all that I can to be close to the Spirit.
I just don't understand how anyone who has done any kind of research into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (nicknamed Mormons) can even begin to say that we are not Christians. We aren't called The Church of Joseph Smith... Or The Church of Mormon... We are called The Church of JESUS CHRIST! Of course we are Christians and I am deeply offended to be accused otherwise. All that we are and all that we believe is centered on the foundation of the teachings of Jesus Christ himself - The Master, The Creator, The Savior and Redeemer of the World, The Son of God! It makes me feel sad inside that people would say that we are NOT Christians. How dare they say that! I love Jesus Christ with all my heart and will forever be in debt for the price He paid for my sins. Without Him, there would be no purpose to life.
When I get this way, I feel a strong need and desire to seek out all the knowledge and understanding I can find. It gives me comfort. I like to go to trustworthy and reliable sources for my information - places where I will feel uplifted and comforted, not places that will cause me fear and doubt. I want to build my faith, not destroy it. That's why I pulled my copy of Jesus The Christ from my bookshelf. I was on a mission to find peace, comfort, and guidance to know what I needed to hear. It didn't take me long to find it.
I didn't go to the index or to the table of contents. I didn't start at the beginning of the book. I flipped open the book and started reading. I didn't find what I was looking for, even though I didn't KNOW what I was searching for. I flipped to a new spot three times before I found what I know Heavenly Father needed me to hear.
I found it on page 535. There was a subtitle about a 1/4 of the way down the page that read, "THE NEED OF WATCHFULNESS AND DILIGENCE ILLUSTRATED BY PARABLES". It immediately caught my eye and I began to read. It begins with the full account of the Parable of The Ten Virgins as found in Matthew 25: 1-13. And then a few paragraphs later it reads:
"In the parable of the ten maidens were waiting to welcome and join in with the bridal company, the time of whose arrival was uncertain. Each had her lamp attached to the end of a rod so as to be held aloft in the festal march; but of the ten virgins five had wisely carried an extra supply of oil, while the other five, probably counting on no great delay, or assuming that they would be able to borrow from others, or perchance having negligently given no thought at all to the matter, had no oil except the one filling with which their lamps had been supplied at starting. The bridegroom tarried, and the waiting maidens grew drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, the forerunners of the marriage party loudly proclaimed the bridegroom's approach, and cried in haste; 'Go ye out to meet him.' The ten maidens, no longer sleepy, but eagerly active, set to work to trim their lamps; then the wise ones found use for the oil in their flasks, while the thoughtless five bewailed their destitute condition, for the their lamps were empty and they had no oil for replenishment. They appealed to their wiser sisters, asking a share of their oil but these declined; for, in a time of such exigency, to give of their store would have been to render themselves unfit, inasmuch as there was oil enough for their own lamps only. Instead of oil they could impart only advice to their unfortunate sisters, whom they directed to go to the nearest shop and buy for themselves. While the foolish virgins were away in quest of oil, the wedding party passed into the house wherein the feast was provided, and the door was shut against all tardy comers. In time the unwise maidens, too late to participate in the processional entry, called from without, pleading for admittance; but the bridegroom refused their request, and disclaimed all acquaintanceship with them, since they had not been numbered among his attendants or those of the bride."
An oil lamp my sister brought for me from Israel
Then Elder Talmage goes on to say, "The Bridegroom's (Jesus Christ) coming was sudden; yet the waiting virgins (those who profess a belief in Christ) were not held blamable for their surprise at the abrupt announcement, but the unwise five suffered the natural results of their unpreparedness." (The lighted lamp represents the outward profession of Christian belief and practice; the oil reserves represent "the spiritual strength and abundance which diligence and devotion in God's service alone can insure.") "The refusal of the wise virgins to give of their oil at such a critical time must not be regarded as uncharitable; the circumstance typifies the fact that in the day of judgment every soul must answer for himself; there is no way by which the righteousness of one can be credited to another's account; the doctrine of supererogation is wholly false. The Bridegroom's condemnatory disclaimer, 'I know you not,' was equivalent to a declaration that the imploring but neglectful ones, who had been found unready and unprepared, did not know Him."
As I pondered on this, the message I needed slowly permeated my heart and soul. I know the message my Heavenly Father wants me to hear. If the Bridegroom (the Savior) were to come today, I would most likely be one of the unprepared maidens. I'm not prepared as I have been in days past. I've let the hope and promise for MORE TIME, LESS STRESS, A QUIET HOUSE, etc, etc, etc... fill my days and have given myself the permission to let my day to day spiritual strengthening sit on the back burner, simmering, taking a back seat to life. I can't do that. I've let Satan deceive me and lull me into complacency. I've been consciously working at it for several weeks now and I can feel the progress... increased strength, hope, peace. Contentment with my life as it is. A stronger presence of the Holy Ghost guiding me. It's not all back, but it's coming. I'm slowly adding more drops of oil to my lamp. But I've let my lamp run low and it will take time to replenish the reserves I've foolishly used up with a false hope that I can get by on it for now and get more later when life is quieter, less stressful, less hectic. I've got many more years to go before that time in my life comes. I can't live on my oil reserves forever. I can't let my faith simmer on the back burner and hope it's still warm when I get around to tending to it. Luckily, I've moved my pot to the front burner and the heat is up, but my pot isn't boiling yet. I'm getting there though. I'm on my way again... back on the path and hopefully my light is growing. I won't beat myself up... that is counterproductive. No. I will recognize my weakness, learn from it, and work to turn my weakness back into the strength it used to be. I know I can do it. I have a Bridegroom (Savior) who knows my name and He wants me to attend that marriage. I have His invitation. It's one celebration I don't want to miss and I plan on attending.