Monday, January 20, 2014

In the Flow

In the Flow

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.  I am always excited to talk to someone who has learned the same lessons that I have learned independently.  It confirms to me truth.  The scriptures say,
" the mouth of two or three awitnesses shall every word be established."  (2 Corinthians 13:1)
Knowing that someone else has had similar thoughts and impressions gives me confidence in my ability to receive spiritual direction.   
So you may be saying, "Whatever... this girl is totally off her rocker.  She is grief stricken, and she is reaching out for something that isn't even there.  It's all just her hopeful mind making everything up." 
To my skeptics I want you to consider the radio...  500 years ago if you would have told someone that there are thousands of electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere that can carry information. Each sized waves is a different frequency. If you take this little box and turn this knob to the right frequency, the box can interpret the information in that particular wave, and it will broadcast the music or voice information that it contains. 

What would someone have said to that?  How could such a thing be possible?  We can't see the waves.  How could something invisible carry information through the air?
I would like to suggest that we are like that little black box.  Inside of us is the equipment to receive the signal.  God made us that way.  Just as a little baby has the latent ability to learn language, so also does our spirit have the latent ability to learn to communicate with God.

The key is learning how to fine tune the knob and to turn down all of the noise from our physical senses so we can actually hear our spiritual senses.  We fine tune the knob by getting our lives aligned with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

As a loving Heavenly Father, he sent us here not to be alone and directionless, but to learn how to use our equipment! He knew that having a body would make spiritual communication more difficult.  It would require more sensitive tuning and listening, but that it would be the lessons we needed to make our spirits stronger.  This was a necessary learning experience for us here.

So back to what I was originally going to write about....
We had a three hour conversation one night with a man and his wife who serve in a leadership position in our church (it's a service position and is not paid).  Some of the things he shared with me were so beautifully put and I think they really helped me to understand the principle of repentance and receiving that divine guidance and help. He talked about being in "the Flow.' 
  My friend and I now call each other and say, “I’m in the Flow!”

This is what God says… “Here are my principles, align yourself with them.” 

Sin is simply misalignment and repentance is realignment. 

It is that simple… just realign. 

I like to think of those principles as the current flowing in a river.  If we are aligned with the current, we easily float 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 “Go with the flow”
The Adversary gets a big kick out of when we beat ourselves up over sin.
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 also 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,” but temporal things knock us out of alignment- just like bumping the radio dial, static gets in the way and we cannot hear or see nearly so clearly.  Contention knocks us out of the flow. Sin knocks us out of the flow.

He talked about two different cycles, the Redemption cycle and the Grace cycle.  The goal is to get out of the redemption cycle and into the grace one.  (Something that is very difficult to do because we have to be more faithful.)
2 Nephi 2:26- “They have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

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 wack.

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.  In the grace cycle we are free to act and not being acted upon.  Satan has no more power 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 atonement allows us to have this power to create our hearts.
Christ went through the Grace cycle. In D&C 93:12 it says..
12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;

Then we are told that this is a pattern for us to follow.  Later in verse 18-20 it says…”  
 18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. 20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.

In Ether 12: 27, we learn that it is His grace that will allow us to change from weak to strong.  We access that grace by being humble and having 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.

Grace is the enabling power that allows us to overcome this world and our personal weaknesses.  To move beyond the natural man or carnal 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.

I believe that before we came to earth we were completely and collectively ‘in the flow’ of our Father in Heaven’s thoughts and desires.  We understood our Heavenly Fathers will and we were aligned with it.  We loved Him and each other and that was the central motivating force of our being.  
Everything we chose to do down here and every trial we accepted was because of the love we felt for each other, our desire to help each other, and because of the love we felt for God.  
Being born separated us from that flow of consciousness.  For the first time in our existence we were utterly and totally alone.  Our spirits long to have that back, but our oneness with God and people on the other side of the veil can only be achieved as we allow the veil to become thin.  I say ‘we allow’ because it is not God that creates the veil, but rather our own lack of faith and inexperience in mastering our spiritual senses.  The senses of our bodies are so strong that we barely recognize the spiritual sensations masked by them.  
In this life as we exercise more faith, get in the flow and are obedient to those promptings.  The veil becomes thinner and the flow is more apparent to us. Think of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon who saw the finger of the Lord and then later his whole personage. The Lord could not withhold himself because the Brother of Jared’s faith had pierced the veil
Elder Neil A Maxwell quoted and then said “Elder Orson Hyde said, “We have forgotten! … But our forgetfulness cannot alter the facts.” (Journal of Discourses, 7:315.) Yet, on occasions, there are inklings. President Joseph F. Smith observed how “we often catch a spark from the awakened memories of the immortal soul, which lights up our whole being as with the glory of our former home.” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939, p. 14.)
“There can be sudden surges of deja vu. A flash from the mirror of memory can beckon us forward to that far pavilion, filled with “everlasting splendours” and resurrected beings. Thus, when we now say “I know,” that realization is rediscovery; we are actually saying “I know—again!”

So how do we get out of the Redemption cycle that seems to be full of guilt and beating ourselves up and get into the grace cycle which allows us to more freely access God's power?
We have to be good Watchmen.    

Like the Watchmen on the tower in Jeremiah 51:12
12 Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes:
If we are good watchmen then we choose what goes into our mind instead of just letting any random thought go in.  This is the difference between acting and being acted upon.
15 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him. (3 Nephi 18:15)

In the scriptures praying and watching are often together.  We pray for help and guidance and then we must watch the spiritual flow for those answers and watch to make sure we are not letting temptations in.

 The key to righteous living is to watch our thoughts and become masters of our minds. 

We watch what is coming in and turn our hearts to God through prayer so that we can be empowered through Christ to act and not be acted upon, or succumb to temptation.

Meditation or pondering is when we turn off or quiet those physical sensations so we can more easily watch the flow. 
 “After I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceeding high mountain.” (1 Ne. 11:1.) Marrion G Romney said “There is no doubt in my mind but that Nephi’s pondering was in essence a prayer. (Prayer and Revelation 1978)
Later he said, “It is to attune oneself with the spirit or light which “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space.” (D&C 88:12.) In that light is to be found sure answers to all our needs. Prayer is the key which unlocks the door and lets Christ into our lives.”

Prayer is how we align ourselves with the flow and God's will.  If we are in tune, the very words we should say will be given us because we are back to that unified will, wanting and knowing what the Father would have us do.
David O McKay said, “Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as “a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.” Meditation is a form of prayer. …Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord.”

I love that thought and I have found it to be true.  Meditation on spiritual matters can bring us back to the presence of the Lord.  It aligns us with his will and the flow.  Our radio dial is on the perfect spot and we have the ability to once again know His thoughts.  Jesus often went off alone to pray and meditate and that is a great example for us to follow.

When we get to the point of being a watchman, just casually observing or having a heightened awareness of the flow of thoughts and feelings that come into our minds, the Lord empowers us through his grace.  We are listening and doing what He wants us to do and we are receiving His grace as we give grace. 

In this state we have a desire to really purify our desires and our hearts and focus on those inner dealings.  We are looking at our thoughts and preventing bad actions by choosing to let the good in and discard the bad.  We have learned how to act and not to be acted upon.

We can actually get out of the redemption cycle and start receiving grace for grace until we are able to receive a fullness of His grace and behold His glory.  I used to think that was not possible in this life, but the more I study the more I learn that we are the only thing limiting ourselves.  All of the divine attributes are there.  We unlock the power as we prove ourselves trust worthy to wield it. 

We become trust worthy by remaining in the flow and being obedient to those directions and prompting that come to us. As we become more spiritually minded and less temporally minded we are able to receive more and more at an accelerated rate. As we make and keep covenants with God that power is unlocked.

As a watchman, you can stop Satan from acting upon you.  We can actually enter into the rest of God if we can stop being acted upon.  There is a calmness and peace about doing what is right.  You aren’t frazzled or overwhelmed when you are in the flow.  You take direction as you get it, acting upon it and knowing that the Lord will give you the ability to do what he needs you to do regardless of time constraints or other obstacles.  You have faith and trust Him and his promptings.  You know that His way was always your way too. 

We don’t have to suffer and be condemned to receive.  The gospel is not about penance but repentance.  It is about realignment.  All we have to do is use our agency to choose to come to the principle and align ourselves with it.  When we find ourselves out of the flow, we simply and quickly realign through repentance.  We make the change and move forward. 

Every action starts as a thought or a feeling. 

First we think or feel it; then we do. 

So the real spiritual battle is not won and does not take place physically with our actions, but in our minds with our thoughts and feelings.  If you allow yourself to dwell on, revisit or mull over a destructive, sinful or inappropriate thought or feeling eventually you will act on it.

Satan wants to use doubt and fear to paralyze us, to make us feel incapable of winning, or to get us to fight.

The best course of action is to acknowledge the thought, make a conscious decision to not engage it and more forward.

D&C 20:22-  He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.
Remember that the adversary has no power to act on us unless we let him by engaging him or the thought.

Feelings are somewhat harder to watch than thoughts because they often stem from past injuries.  Without notice they can pop up when we are very unprepared for them.  They can be strong and overpowering.  Meditation helps us watch for those more easily. 

You may say, "I don’t have time to meditate," but you can learn to meditate anywhere.  Often we are walking or driving to someplace, showering or putting on makeup.  During these times we often allow our thoughts to wander wherever they may.  If instead we turn off the radio and purposefully think and direct our flow of thought, those times can be a powerful time of meditation and personal revelation. 

Now I find that my ability to receive revelation is greatly enhanced if I have a pen in my hand and I am taking notes, but I have had equal success while taking a walk with the memo record feature on my iphone.  In fact, it has been very helpful to go back and listen to that stream of thought in those inspired movements.  It helps me to keep the faith and not doubt prior instructions. 

Christ is the great healer and the more we pursue Him the quicker we will be healed. 

This is truth and this is the only way.  He is the only way.

Faith makes you whole, both physically and emotionally.  It is an enabling power.  Grace is an enabling power.  The Lord wants to enable us.  He doesn’t want us to suffer a moment longer than is needful, but we have to choose to align ourselves with Him and be in the flow before he can gift us with that enabling power.

I am overwhelmed at God's love for me.  He makes the way as simple as he can while we in turn thrash and splash about like a drowning victim.  He has a lifeline he is ready to throw us, but we have to stop fighting and look towards Him.  We have to trust Him enough to give him all of our will.  Then we can safely float down the river, knowing that even in the rapids of our lives that he will buoy us up and help us reach our final destination.

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