Imagine that someone you love very dearly has rejected you. You were close once, and you’ve spent untold time and energy serving them, but now they’ve turned away from you and everything you stand for.
For many, this scenario is all too realistic. But now imagine that millions, even billions, of your loved ones have done this.
Welcome to God’s world.
I think of this a lot.
I think of this when I feel hurt by someone I care about. Knowing that my Father in Heaven has been through this, but literally a billion times more, puts my own pain in perspective and makes me respect and reverence God all the more for the noble way He still loves us.
I think of this when I’m critical of others. It’s so easy to justify thinking less of people, and holding back on anything I might do for them, emotionally or physically. But when Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” he made a powerful point about the nature of God’s love.
Nobody else would have as much good reason to cut off those who’ve rejected their love, because nobody else has been so fully rejected by so many, or had so much love turned away.
But God doesn’t do that. He still pours out as many blessings as possible on all of us, constantly striving to help us have as much joy as we can, even if we deny its source or even actively fight against Him.
One of my favorite scriptures is Abraham 1:2, which I think lays out a great plan for a life well lived, a life of active holiness. Here’s the text:
And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
There is an awful lot in there. Consider the nature of the things Abraham set as his goals: he wanted emotional blessings (happiness and peace and rest), physical blessings (numerous posterity), mental blessings (great knowledge), and spiritual blessings (to be a follower of righteousness and a prince of peace).
He tells us in this verse that he specifcally worked on these goals with certain activities that were designed to help him accomplish what he wanted, and that those exercises all boiled down to two things: keeping the commandments, and growing in the priesthood by utilizing it to perform ordinances for others (to “administer the blessings of the fathers”). Continue reading →
Although I was first exposed to Kubrick’s classic film in high school, I was too sleepy/ dumb/ apathetic to pay much attention. Despite that, I was pretty familiar with it, if only because of the ubiquitous references to it in pop culture (I can remember at least a few just from Sesame Street).
A few years ago, I found myself planning for the last day of summer school, where I would spend the first half of the day reviewing and then administering a final exam, and the second half of the day grading it and filling out paperwork. As the students would obviously be done with the course itself after the exam, an extraneous activity was needed to fill the time while I worked. (Technically, administrations are supposed to have us give the exam and grade it during the second half of the last day, while we’re simultaneously supposed to continue doing regular class work with them–an expectation so impossibly ridiculous that nobody anywhere has ever tried to enforce it).
Not being a fan of time-wasting movies, I wanted something calm and cerebral for them to try. Remembering 2001, I checked it out of the library. As long and slow as it is, (and as much as I was trying to focus on my work, which I mercifully finished earlier than I’d expected to), I was dazzled by it, by all of it: the visuals, the music, the ambition of the story’s epic scope. How could such a simple and simply-told movie be so fantastically overwhelming?
Since then, this has been a landmark of art in my mind. Thus it’s not surprising that, eventually, I’d read Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, which he wrote at the same time as he and Kubrick wrote the screenplay.