I couldn’t help but put this picture on because I’m such a Disney enthusiast!
So I spent last week in Utah with one of my young LDS widow friends that I met online. I had an amazing time with her as we stayed up late talking about our lives, sharing experiences and spiritual impressions. We had a three hour conversation one night with a man and his wife who voluntarily serves in a leadership position in our church. Some of the things he shared with me were so beautifully put, and they really helped me to understand the principle of repentance and receiving grace, that divine guidance and help. He talked about being in “the Flow.”
This is what God says…
“Here are my principles, align yourself with them.”
Sin is simply misalignment with God, so repentance is realignment.
It is that simple… just realign your actions and thoughts with God’s commandments. I like to think of those principles as the current flowing in a river. If we are aligned with the current, we easily floating along. Misalignment causes all sorts of navigation problems and extra work paddling. When we are stubborn and try to go against the flow, we end up not going where the Lord wants us to go and we do a lot of unnecessary work that wears us out. How much easier it is then to turn our will over to Him, becoming humble and meek and simply “Going with the flow”
The Adversary gets a big kick out of when we beat ourselves up over sin and things from the past.
Repentance is not about guilt and beating ourselves up.
It is NOT about suffering penance for the things we have done wrong.
Yes, a truly repentant person will feel guilt and that will lead him to repent, but the Lord does not intend for us to ‘hang out’ in our ‘guilty phase.’ He wants us to come to Him, confess, and then covenant to be obedient. Repentance is realignment. Then we move forward and do not look back. Yes, we will have to suffer the natural consequences for our period of misalignment. There may be fall out or missed blessings, but from alignment forward, if we keep that covenant to be obedient, we are back in “the Flow.” We can receive His blessing freely and His guidance and counsel.
Wouldn’t it be great to always be “in the flow?”
Unfortunately, temporal things knock us out of alignment- just like when we bump the radio dial
and static gets in the way. We cannot hear or see nearly so clearly.
Contention knocks us out of the flow.
Sin knocks us out of the flow.
Strong negative emotions knock us out of the flow.
So how do we stay in the spiritual flow and receive guidance and direction in our lives?
There are two different cycles that we can choose to live in. The first is the “Redemption cycle” and the second I will refer to as the “Grace cycle.” Once we learn how to get out of the the redemption cycle and into the grace cycle, we will find a great measure of consistent peace and direction in our lives.
REDEMPTION CYCLE: sin-> repentance -> feel spirit -> sin
Problem: We always go back to sin again and repeat. In this cycle we are constantly beating ourselves up and being ‘acted upon.’ Because we are misaligned, we allow temptation and sin to constantly knock us out of whack. Sin doesn’t even have to be one of the big ten, it can be as simple as being chronically critical or judgmental. Even the little misalignments can pull us from the spirit and help that we need. Fortunately, there is a remedy to this cyclical pattern.
GRACE CYCLE: give grace -> receive grace-> give grace.
When we are ‘in the flow’ and listening to the promptings of the spirit we are directed how to help others and show God’s love for them (give grace). The natural result of giving grace is personally receiving grace. When we receive grace we get more power. More power to stay in the flow and do his will. Power to avoid temptation, negative thought patterns and despair. In the grace cycle we choose how to act and prevent ourselves from being acted upon by Satan. He loses control over us.
Power comes to us from observing the flow of thoughts that come into our minds and choosing what we will receive into our hearts and mind. The power or grace creates in us a new hearts. This is the path that Christ walked, by choosing this path, we find that He helps and enables us to be better and He changes those impure desires in us.
In the scriptures, we learn that it is His grace that allows us to change from weak to strong. We access that grace by being humble, repentant, and exercising faith or in other words, aligning ourselves with His will and purposes.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12: 27)
Grace is the enabling power that allows us to overcome this world and our personal weaknesses. To move beyond the temporal mind that relies on physical input and to move towards the spiritually minded man that can pay attention to the flow, or that spiritual thought or feeling. In my grief, grace has enabled me to overcome those feeling os despair and hopelessness. It has given me power to move forward.