Jerusalem is, of course, full of spiritual moments. What I’m learning here though, is that we can choose to let these spiritual moments affect us, or choose to only recognize them superficially. I’m trying to get better at recognizing these moments, and getting as much out of them as I can. The following post is void of any pictures, but is rather aimed at sharing one of these occasions.
I had one of these moments in the Orson Hyde Park. The Orson Hyde Park is on the Mount of Olives, a along with the Jerusalem Center, and is thus only a fifteen minute walk. More importantly, it is one of the possible sites of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus Christ took upon Himself all the sins of the world – a feat completely incomprehensible to me.
On Saturday, our Sabbath, a group of ten of us went to the Park after church. We took a few pictures, and then sang half an hour’s worth of hymns. After that we spread out and took twenty minutes to do some personal study and contemplation.
A few days ago I had read a verse in Romans that really hit me, so I began my study by proceeding to Romans to mark the verse. On my way looking for it, however, I found myself in Romans 6 – one of my favorite chapters, but one that I’d forgotten about until then. It speaks on being dead to sin, but alive in Christ. Romans 6:11 “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And 6:18 “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
These verses are powerful on so many levels. Obviously, they let us know that sin no longer has power over us. Christ died for ours sins, and thus we have been promised eternal life. We are not enslaved to our past mistakes, instead, we are now in the service of righteousness. This last part really stuck with me. There is a thin line between learning from our old sins, and letting them affect and infect our daily lives. Guilt is an important emotion in that it helps us to realize when we’ve done something wrong, so that we can learn from that experience and grow from it. But guilt should not be allowed to rule our lives. Through Jesus Christ and His atonement, we have been made free from sin. Not only free in eternal terms, but free while in this mortal realm as well. The chapter ends with a beautiful observation in 6:21, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?...” These sins and trespasses that we commit never have any lasting “fruit.” They are simply temporal pleasures or unkind reactions, from which we get no lasting reward. But, when we are “servants of righteousness,” we do receive those lasting benefits.
I then continued my search, and found the verse I was looking for in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” I like this verse for a number of reasons.
“Be not conformed to this world” –many young believers, but BYU students especially, are very different from their counterparts. A Friday night at BYU will be easily distinguishable from a Friday night at almost any other college campus. Obviously, it’s not always easy make decisions that sometimes alienate you from others. But just because choosing to honor God and His commandments is hard, doesn’t mean that it’s any less vital. We might be different, but we’re different for a reason. God has called us all unto Him to be different, and in doing that, we need not conform to this world. We are citizens of an Eternal Kingdom, and we have a responsibility to act that way.
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” We are lucky enough to have knowledge of Christ and His incredible atonement. This should transform our mind and the way we think about life. And finally, “That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” In the end, that’s what it’s all about. Following the will of God, which is good, and acceptable, and perfect. Focusing our lives on these things are important, and not worrying about the other things that the rest of the world may deem important. But since we need not conform to them and their agendas, we are free to follow God.
I then finished my studies on Romans 12:12. This verse really resonated with me. Not only is it in one of my favorite books, but it has my lucky number (x 2!). “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” This verse basically sums up the past three years of my life. And upon reading it, I knew that I was getting the message I was supposed to that day. I know this sounds strange, but I could literally feel God’s presence upon my heart. Tangibly feel it. It was exactly the reassurance that I needed. Life is never easy, and especially when I’ve had many, many unanswered questions and pleas. So to feel His presence then, stronger than I have in years, was precisely what I needed to know that God has not forgotten me and my needs.
I know that He still cares for me and is with me every day. I have witnessed firsthand His healing power, and sometimes forget all He has done for me because my vision gets so clouded with other things that I need. I have tried my best to rejoice in hope, to be patient through my tribulations, and to be continually in prayer. This verse affirmed that I need to continue to do these things, and to not lose my determination. That verse was exactly what I needed to hear. In that moment, and still, as I write this, I can say, without a doubt, that our God lives, and that He loves and personally knows each and every one of us. And I am so grateful for that testimony.
God Bless You All-