Sunday, January 1, 2012

Some Thoughts on Consecration

It's my turn to speak again in Church tomorrow morning and I was given the topic of Consecration.  I started my preparations by looking up the word... Wikipedia gave me these two definitions:

  • setting apart for the service of God of both persons and objects, and
  • solemn dedication to a special purpose or service.

And it told me that consecration literally means "to associate with the sacred."

In his October 2010 Conference address D. Todd Christofferson quoted Richard L. Evans from the film 'Man's Search for Happiness.'
"Life offers you two precious gifts -- one is time, the other is freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will.  You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills.  You may trade it for base desires.  You may invest in greed...
Yours is the freedom to choose.  But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.
Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for.  And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement.  And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.
A prophet of God has said: 'Men are that they might have joy' -- a joy that includes a fullness of life, a life dedicated to service, to love and harmony in the home, and the fruits of honest toil..."
He went on to point out that God designed this mortal existence to require nearly constant exertion.  By work we sustain and enrich life.  It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of our mortal experience.  Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self worth.  Work builds and refines our character, creates beauty and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God.  A consecrated life is filled with work... sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated, but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.

For evidence that a consecrated life is a life of labor we need only to look to our Savior, who we each try to emulate.  Luke 2:48-49 tells us that "He was about His Father's business" beginning early in His life.  Even God, Himself, is glorified by His work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.  As His children, we have a natural desire to participate with Him in this work.  Thomas Carlyle said, "All true work is sacred; in all true work there is something of divineness.  Labor, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven."

In Romans 12:1, Paul said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God."  But... how do we do that?  Jesus demonstrated that a consecrated life is a life of service.  We see it in the accounts we have of His day to day life, going about doing good and serving the needs of those He met.  Hours before the agony of His Atonement began, the Lord humbly washed His disciples' feet.  John 13:14-16 tells us the words he said to them:
"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him."
Those who quietly and thoughtfully go about their life doing good offer a model of consecration.  So very often it is our simple acts of kindness that confirm Divine love and awareness to another person as we go about doing good; as we go about seeking for ways to serve and meet the needs of those we come into contact with. Doing this work is how we can best emulate the kind of life the Savior led.

A consecrated life is a beautiful thing.  Its strength and serenity are as the "very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit" in D&C 97:9.  The consecration of many who have gone before us and others who live among us has helped lay the foundation for our happiness just as future generations will take courage from our efforts and see their debt for the possession of all that truly matters.  In making the conscious decision and required effort to consecrate ourselves as sons and daughters of God we have claim on this promise from Moroni 7:48:  "that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is..." We will recognize Him because we've remade ourselves and become like Him by consecrating our hearts, minds and efforts to His service.

I hope this is making you wiggle in your seats just a little bit.  It surely made me wiggle as I was reading and composing thoughts these past few days because it made me see my lack.  It helped me see where I can do better work.  This unknown internet quote came across my computer a couple of days ago, "The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."  I invite each of you to join me in a challenge to seek to incorporate the concept of consecration more fully into your lives; to make the effort of His work a part of who you are deep inside so that your actions become a natural expression of your faith and hope.  This work is the path to real happiness.

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