Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Beast is Alone; We Are Not

So… another Doctor Who post since I’ve been re-watching several with my pal Dalton. One that we’ve watched recently is a two-part episode “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”.


The Doctor and Rose end up on a space base on a planet that should not exist: a planet that is orbiting around a black hole. The crew of the base, out of pure human curiosity, came to the planet in order to discover how that planet could possibly stay in orbit and possibly harness that power. Things start to unravel in the space base as a being that seems to be the devil incarnate, the being from which the legend of the devil emanated from, begins to terrorize the Doctor, Rose, and the crew. He begins speaking to them and digging at their deepest fears. The crew and Rose start to panic at his taunts, but of course it’s the Doctor who brings everyone back to their senses with a speech:

“That thing is playing on very basic fears: darkness, childhood nightmares, and all that stuff … What makes his version of the truth any better than mine? Hmm? Because I’ll tell you what I can see: Humans! Brilliant humans! Humans who traveled all the way across space, flying in a tiny little rocket right into the orbit of a black hole, just for the sake of discovery! That’s amazing! Do you hear me? Amazing! All of you: the captain, his officer, his elders, his juniors, his friends. All with one advantage: the Beast is alone. We are not.”

Just like Satan would, he plays on the fears of every living being. He uses our fears until we feel utterly alone. Those are the times that I feel most vulnerable and weak. The adversary tells me that I’m alone, that I have no friends, that I am not loved, or some other twisted tale. The adversary loves to use half-truths. Yes, I may be alone at this moment. Yes, I may be having a hard day. I may have had a bad day at work. I may have failed a test (thank goodness I’m not in school right now).

But even if those things are true, what makes his version of the truth any better than God’s? The truth, the better truth, is that God loves me. God knows I am of infinite worth. God sent His Son to suffer for me because He loves me. God is my Father. God wants me to be close to Him. God cares for me. God will always do what is best for me.

I don’t know about you, but one of those stories sounds a lot nicer and happier than the other. If I focus on the negativity of Satan, darkness will fill my life, but if I will listen to the light of the Savior and to the Spirit, He will bless me with truth, comfort, and love. I’ve seen this in my life and I know it to be true. The Savior loves me and He will always be there for me.

Satan is alone. He will always be alone. He will never have a body, a family, or the experience of this mortal journey. He will never be happy. On the other hand, I have a body, I have my friends, I have my family, I have my agency, and I choose to be happy surrounded by those who love me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Preparing for Cumorah, Part 2

Today I'm finishing off Moroni 10, so I've finished reading the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover for the first time in years (usually I just jump around). As part of us preparing ourselves for Pageant, the Pageant Presidency asked us it read it through before we got to the Hill. So I started over. It's been cool to read it through again. I've gained some cool insights and it has put some things in perspective. I also learned some cool facts that I'd never considered before. I'd like to share some of them.

Photo Credit to Garrett Wilkes :)

First off, just a cool fact (mixed with speculation), did you realize Alma the Elder was in his 70s at the time his son was converted? I always thought he was middle aged. Also, if Alma the Elder was that old, how old was his son? I'd always thought he was a teenager... Instead he was more likely middle-aged).

On a related note, one of the stories that really impressed me during this read of the Book of Mormon was Alma the Younger's conversion. We get Mormon's abridged version in Mosiah, but I love Alma's first-person re-telling of it in Alma 36. In addition, I love what he says in Alma 5, that though he saw an angel, he attributes his conversion to having "fasted and prayed many days" (Alma 5:46). As we see through the scriptures, signs do not convert: Laman and Lemuel saw an angel (1 Nephi 3:29) and only moments later doubted God's power (1 Nephi 3:31), Korihor was struck dumb (Alma 30:49) but had that curse been taken away he would not have changed his behavior (Alma 30:55), and the list goes on.

Sometimes I really want something concrete that without doubt the Lord is there or to simply give me a sign. At times I think I have gotten these little signs, but those things are easy to forget. More important for me than concrete signs is to consistently connect with God and feel His love. His love is always available, but I have to be willing to seek after it through scriptures, prayers, hikes in nature, looking at the stars, reading my patriarchal blessing, etc. If I look He is always there.

Another story I loved in this read of the Book of Mormon was 3 Nephi 9-10. Simultaneous with the crucifixion, the Nephites and the Lamanites were hit with destruction throughout the Americas. Cities sank into the sea, others were burned, earthquakes, floods, etc. After through destruction stopped, the voice of the Savior permeated the land. His sweet merciful voice pleaded with those who were "more righteous than [those who perished]" (3 Nephi 9:13) to "repent and return unto [Him] with full purpose of heart" (3 Nephi 10:6).

I have two thoughts from this that I want to share. First, these were the more righteous people of the Nephites and the Lamanites. And yet, the Lord implored them to repent. It is tempting for me to think that I'm doing well and to feel really good about it. It is good and healthy to recognize my progress and not discount my positive traits just to make myself feel "humble" (which in my opinion is a shadow form of humility). However, I need to not get complacent and forget the need that I have for the Savior and His Atonement. I need to continually "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ" (2 Nephi 31:20).

I love the Book of Mormon. It is truly the word of God. I have felt such peace as I've read through it over the past six months. I'm excited to share my testimony of this volume of scripture with those who attend the Pageant this summer. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Preparing for Cumorah, Part 1

In December I got the amazing news that I would be returning to the Hill Cumorah Pageant. My mom grew up a couple hours from Palmyra, so I've grown up visiting Palmyra. The first time I remember seeing Pageant was in 1998 (though I also saw it at a year and half old in 1992). Three years later at the age of 10 I was in the cast of the Pageant with my family. That year I got to play Laman's son in the journey to the Americas. Seven years later I was in the cast again and I played a Lamanite warrior (spoiler alert: I died). Two years ago, my parents and my little brother were in the cast, so during my road trip with Garrett, we visited and watched the last full run through before the dress rehearsal. This year, I have the amazing opportunity to participate again.

So first, a quick FAQ about the Hill Cumorah Pageant:

No, it doesn't have any singing. You do not have to be musically talented to be in it (which explains why I can do it). There are some dancers, but that's kind of minor. Most people end up being in cried scenes. 

No, I do not know what part I'll be playing. I report to the Hill Cumorah on July 4. That night they have casting and in the days following they assign parts. So I will not find out who I'm playing until I get there (likely it won't be anyone with an actual name).

I'm at the Hill from July 4 until July 20. There are seven performances: July 11-12 and July 14-19. The dress rehearsal is July 10 and there is a full run through (without costumes) on July 9.

The members of the cast get trained by the missionaries there to proselyte and bear testimony to the audience members, both members of the church and friends of other faiths. 

If you can't tell, I'm really excited. One month from tomorrow I'll be at the Hill and this adventure will begin. If you live out east, I recommend coming, even if it means driving a while. It is an amazing experience and it changed my life :)