THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS – April 1979
I can’t remember the first time I read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I do remember being reintroduced to the series, as an adult. And I remember the first time I read the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle.
I could do an entire blog post (or five) on the principles taught in that book. But today I want to look at the last section of the book, when the Narnian children and their animals are moving through the “real country … the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now”. And then one of our family’s most oft quoted lines from probably any book, as the characters in this land were running, running, through this most green and most beautiful land, without feeling winded at all: FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN!
And you can picture it, can’t you? Further up and further in? “It was more like flying than running!”
“The things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on for ever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.”The Last Battle, CS Lewis
Could this be how it will happen? After we start that move forward and upward, will we find that our lives, up until that point, were just the introduction to something – a life more beautiful and more real than what we have yet experienced? Maybe more beautiful that we could even now imagine?
“Now, my brothers and sisters, it seems clear to me, indeed, this impression weighs upon me, that … we are at last ready to move forward in a major way. … And the basic decisions needed for us to move forward, as a people, must be made by the individuals. The major strides which must be made by the Church will follow upon the major strides to be made by us as individuals.
We have paused on some plateaus long enough. Let us resume our journey forward and upward. Let us quietly put an end to our reluctance …”
Sometimes we only start this journey, forward and upward, when we are prompted by trials or struggles. Sometimes we start the journey when we are simply invited by someone we love or someone we respect, to move forward.
I look back on my own journey forward, ONE YEAR. And I have gone further up in my thoughts, and further in to my heart this past year. The journey was prompted by pain and desperation. And I look back now, and I can honestly say, Nothing has gone wrong. I needed to fall in order to push me to look at my life, take responsibility for the direction I was moving in, and seek for the better.
“Seemingly small efforts in the life of each member could do so much to move (us) forward as never before.”
Giving more time to study, giving more time to prayer, working toward healing relationships, learning how to listen to my body and love my body, learning how to love and accept myself, forgiving, listening, dreaming, reaching.
“Are we ready, brothers and sisters, to do these seemingly small things out of which great blessings will proceed? I think we are…
Let us trust the Lord and take the next steps in our individual lives. He has promised us that he will be our tender tutor, measuring what we are ready for:
‘And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.’
He will not ask us to bear more than we can bear nor thrust upon us that for which we are not yet ready. But likewise, we must not tarry too long when we are ready to move on…
He will help us as we decide from day to day on the allocation of our time and talent.”
And this bit of counsel:
We will move faster if we hurry less. We will make more real progress if we focus on the fundamentals.”
In difficult relationships, I’m afraid I’ve practiced the opposite of this counsel: If I do more and do it faster, then healing will come faster! And that thought has really not served me well. Don’t be in a hurry to get out of uncomfortable and into comfortable. This serves me well when I am weight-lifting. It serves me well when I am learning a new song on the piano. And, though it’s taken some really intentional uncomfortable moments, it serves me well when I’m feeling emotions. And it serves me well in relationships – let myself feel my emotions and let them feel their emotions. This is honesty. This is integrity. This will lead to “more real progress”.
President Kimball gives us one way we can really improve, and I will close with this:
“‘So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.’ (John 21:15–17.)
Now the Lord has said that to every man, woman, and child in this congregation and in this world who has joined his church: ‘Lovest thou me?’ Then show me! Show me: feed my sheep. We have in many of the lands of this world large, fast-growing, delightful, wonderful congregations; and we say to you again that the Lord is saying, ‘Feed my sheep.’ And he knows whether we are or not. He knows all the time. We don’t need to put it into words; we don’t need to express that for ourselves. All we need to do is to feed his sheep.”
“I wish to say to you, my brothers and sisters, we love you devotedly, we love you all, we appreciate all you do, and we just hope you will do more.
We ask our Heavenly Father to give you power to extend your blessings to the people in your neighborhood who need them and to take the gospel to areas in the world that need those blessings now. We ask our Heavenly Father to be with you… And we say again, Jesus is our light; he is our stay; he is our Savior and he lives; and we bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”