Please pardon the brief interruption in my LTLYM series, but I can't afford to have anyone left in the dark about this particular truth any longer. What truth am I so conspiratorially hinting at? The truth about humility.
Ok, qualifier, maybe it was just me. All I know is that I didn't really understand humility very well until...erm, recently. To me, the process of being humbled appeared to be a rather peaceful thing. You're prideful, something causes you to recognize your pridefulness, you quietly chide yourself and strive to knock it off. Or maybe someone calls you out on your pridefulness, in which case there's some embarrassment thrown in. Either way, it's a calm procedure.
Not so! The truth is that being humbled hurts. It hurts like heck. It is like the jagged, metal edge of your will scraping up against the equally jagged will of the Lord, with sparks flying and horrid nails-on-the-chalkboard sounds emitting and absolutely no progress being made. Or here's another metaphor: How about a dogfight between your will and the Lord's, except the Lord is an Irish Wolfhound and you're a Pomeranian. Obviously you're going to lose eventually, but you're a stubborn little pom and won't give up without a fight. It's very violent. Blood is drawn. Limbs are yanked and crushed. But still you fight on, because this is your will we're talking about! Deep down you know it is the most important thing you possess, and more importantly, the only thing you really have control over. Certainly you're not going to give up something like that so easily.
But the hard truth is that if we want to become "new creatures in Christ", as Clive puts it, then the will must be killed. That feisty little animal inside of us that represents everything we desire and everything we hope for - it has to go. These are the conditions that have always been set out for us. We are promised that if we give Him everything; that is, absolutely everything, He will throw out this old decrepit creature of ours and replace it with a new one, one that is of a different and a far better quality than anything we can now comprehend.
Clive obviously knew all this, and said it much more eloquently than I can:
Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with him everything else thrown in.
So, that was pretty much all I wanted to say. I have felt my own animal slowly dying lately, and it hasn't been pretty. But I have hope that I can kill it yet. And I recognize that this animal of mine tends to come back in all sorts of yappy reincarnations, which is why I must always be fighting it. So, yeah. Feeling pretty confident that I'm going to be living a full 70+ years cause I'm afraid it's going to take about that long to kill this creature once and for all.
So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our] sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him.
Elder Maxwell, everybody.
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