17 September 2007

Living in the Spirit

There is a set of verses in Galatians that I really like. It is Galatians 5:22-24. These talk about the fruits of the Spirit, and encourage us to bring forth these fruits by "living in the Spirit".

This Sunday, I had the Sunday School lesson (I trade off with another gentleman, Gil Wilburn), and, to my delight, the topic was "Living in the Spirit". This meant that I would have the chance to talk about one of my favorite topics.

I'll give the overview, here, and I'll go into more detail later on of what we talked about.

First, I dropped a garbage bag in the middle of the room that was full of garbage. I did this before class began. After Brother Lunceford had given the opening prayer, I asked everyone if the room was clean. There are a couple of jokers in the classroom, but everyone understood. When might we decide that it was okay to leave the garbage there? "Oh, it's tied up, isn't it?" It will be fine for a while." "Oh, I'm too busy right now." The best one was: "Oh, I'm just not sure that I'm ready to throw it away, yet."

We talked about how there is garbage in each of our lives that we decide that we aren't quite ready to take out, yet, for whatever reason. What about those bad movies on your shelf? "Well, I paid a lot of money for them." What about the super-sugary diet? "Well, I'm really stressed right now." Etc., etc.. Often, we are like the monkeys that "see no evil," "hear no evil," and "speak no evil"; we shut our eyes, ears, and mouth to the bad things that we are doing, and, sometimes, justify it with an "out of sight, out of mind" attitude.

We turned to Acts 19:19 where some of the converts in Ephesus, instead of stowing away their witchcraft under the rug or selling it on eBay, burnt it. Indeed, once we decide that something keeps us from God, we ought to have courage and be rid of it. A relative of mine did this when President Hinckley spoke in General Conference against gambling. He could have sold his gambling stuff on eBay, but, instead, he threw it out.

We talked about a lot of different ways that we "shove our 'favorite' sins under the rug" and resolved together to put them away.

We next talked about the important step of recognizing the Spirit when He enters our hearts. I spoke of a wish I have to see the parting of the Red Sea to see if there are hand prints along the side of the water. I think that, much like we might see the impressions of the Lord's hands against the raging water, so do we see the Lord's hands in a very powerful way in our lives where he holds bad the pain, the persecution, etc., and leaves the peace and joy of the Spirit. Indeed, the way we would see His hands at the Red Sea would simply be by seeing where the water was displaced. Which tells you better that He is there? The impressions against the water or the physical hand. Indeed, neither is better. So it is when we feel the peace and joy of the Spirit when, by the looks of things, we ought to be feeling hatred, fear, or doubt.

We finished up by talking about something that I've touched on already in one entry. It is that, in our 6000 years of recorded history, we have never found a way to adequately describe spiritual experiences. By referencing the same scriptures that I mentioned in the other entry, we came to understand that the reason is because God has made us incapable of such an action. Why? Because, some things, he wants to reserve for Himself. He stands at the gate, not just to make sure that no one unworthy goes in, but also because He wants to be the one to welcome us into Heaven. He also wants to be the one to send His love into the heart of one of his children via the Holy Ghost--he doesn't want anyone else doing that for Him. We share experiences, bear testimony, etc., and then God has a reserved part that is just for Him. Now, He gets to testify to them how much He loves them and how much He wants them to be home with Him again.

It was a good lesson. I was touched when Sister Fackrell came to tell me that the Spirit had answered one of her prayers during the lesson. That tells me that the Spirit was there.