Sunday, May 15, 2016


I wouldn't call them abrupt nor dramatic changes, but there have been several shifts during my life when I felt I had really identified the key to living a Christ centered life.

Although I never voiced it to anyone and may not have even realized it myself, in retrospect I realize the first few decades of my life were probably controlled by the principle of obedience.

I grew up during an era when ‘a good spanking’ was an essential part of parenting. Therefore, I learned early on that the directions given by my mother or father were not to be questioned, considered as a topic up for debate, as something I could adjust to my own time table, nor an area where my natural creative ideas in bringing their words to fruition could be incorporated.

As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints became more of an influence in my life, Apostles, Prophets, Stake Presidents, Bishops and other church leaders were placed on the same pedestal as my parents as ‘they who would be obeyed.’ Then, when I became a regular reader of the scriptures, I found myself daily adding to the list of commandments and principles which needed to be obeyed.

As the list became cumbersome and more and more difficult to stay constantly and completely aware of, I slowly decided there had to be a better way.

It wasn't an overnight shift and even now, after a lot of water has flowed past my porch, I still periodically find myself checking on my level of obedience to one principle or another.

It doesn't seem appropriate to call it a phase, but the next identifiable principle upon which I found myself being grounded, if I were to use worldly terms, would be called my ‘if it feels good, do it’ phase. I hasten to say that since I had spent all those years of my life firming up my foundation of using the principle of obedience as concrete, it was very difficult to get that ‘good’ feeling if I engaged in an activity contrary to the principles on my obedience list.

This period really became the time of my life when I used the Plan of Happiness both as an indicator of choices I should be making and as a measuring tool to indicate if the choices I was making were correct. If I felt like a dark cloud was enveloping me I knew I was making choices which weren’t correct. However, if after making a choice I felt that wonderful feeling of joy spring up around my heart, I was pretty secure that I had made a correct choice.

It was much later in my life than I would like to admit that I was able to begin the shift away from these ‘me being obedient’ or ‘me being happy’ constructs of life to a principle which made it easier for me to ‘get over myself’ a bit.

I suspect it started with the Savior’s admonition during the last supper as recorded in the Gospel of St. John chapter 13 verse 34.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

This impulse toward ‘love for others’ being ‘the key to a Christ centered life’ was amplified by the teachings on the principle of love expounded by John in the 4th chapter of his first epistle, especially when he boldly states God is love and then continues by saying a man who says he loves God whom he cannot see, but hates his brother whom he can see is a liar.

Another factor which contributed to my shift to love being the emphasis of my personal gospel plan, I am sure was due to the phenomenon that as I aged, the circle of people who made me feel ‘warm and fuzzy’ when I was around them, seemed to be rapidly expanding.

It was at this time of my life when I became convinced that the most important thing we do during our lives is to make sure we do all we can to have loving and kind relationships with all of Heavenly Father’s children, even those who seem bent on making it difficult to do so.

It was quite miraculous to discover that when I concentrated on having loving relationships be a major principle in my relationships and at the same time attempting not to cause my neighbor to stumble into negative relationships, I found myself surging to a whole new level on the happiness scale.

Just when I was feeling really good about finding the key to living a Christ centered life, while I was reading the words of Jacob, the brother of Nephi, in the Book of Mormon in 2nd Nephi the 24th and 25th verses of the 10th chapter, I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that all the other ‘keys’, which I had concentrated my life on during extensive periods, were but passages leading to what might, at least for me, be the Very Key to having a Christ centered life.

Wherefore my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine.

When I was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting near the end of my 77th year of my life, I was given the assignment to speak on the Plan of Salvation. As it turned out, and as I had suspected, I was only able to give a small portion of what I had prepared.

However, I was very grateful because it started a series of weeks when I was able to ponder and begin to formulate my thoughts on His plan. Hopefully, we all catch the significance of it being HIS plan based on HIS mercy and HIS grace and not on my will nor my perceptions.

During the coming weeks I will be sharing some of my ponderings and conclusions, as I have taken another, and hopefully a correct look at HEAVENLY FATHER’S ETERNAL PLAN.

(To be continued)

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