Tonight’s discussion revolved around Mercy, Grace, and Covenant.
Each of the terms Mercy and Grace has an independent meaning, but the two words are often used interchangeably. Mercy refers both to an attribute of deity and to a universal law that allows a specially qualified third party to pay the penalty of justice on behalf of one who is subject to such a penalty.
Grace, on the other hand, is the means by which mercy enacts many of its miraculous effects, particularly the blessing of the atonement. Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ” and is “Made possible by his atoning sacrifice.”
In my life, as sobriety goes, from the very beginning, I know this is true; I would hear a topic, I would listen to a share, I would get to talk about it in discussions, then, God would say, (as if He spoke this) now go home and put this topic or concept into practical use. As in, see how this applies to your life, an figure out how it works for you.
That has been the way it has always gone for me, all these years later. And from the very start, I made covenants to people, and in a way God, because, God as we understand Him, speaks to us in our group conscience.
But let me backtrack first before I explain further.
I have had a handful of “All In” moments in my life. Where I had to make a decision, to throw everything I had at God, my life, my will, and my fears and my pains.
When I entered Seminary at age 19, I believed that a life serving the church, (read:God) was what I was called to do, and so did the men who got me into that seminary. At that young age, I knew that I was ALL IN. Sadly, a man made institution was not ALL IN with me.
Life went on. I would not enter another covenant for many years to come.
When we make a promise, or we speak a vow, or we find ourselves in a situation where, we must rely on another human being for our survival, (read: God) we make a covenant.
For me there are specific instances where I see, in Hindsight, that I made a covenant with someone greater than me, for my survival.
That someone would have been Todd (read: God).
The days prior, when everybody ran from the fire, when sickness came, Todd, in his wisdom ran right into that fire. The only person that walked into that fire, and said that He would care for me. The caveat was, that I would throw everything I had at him, throw my sickness up in the air, and trust that Todd, had my back, which he did.
I believe in my heart of hearts, that on that day, and the days, weeks, months and years that followed, I had made a covenant with God, that I would give Him all I had, and in return He would give me all He had to give me.
I was ALL IN.
I know what that felt like. Practical experience with Mercy, Grace, and Covenant.
God had Mercy on me, I received God’s Grace, through the vehicle of the covenant. I made a solemn declaration to Todd (read:God) that I would trust to my death, everything that I was asked to do, without fail. Neither abandoned me in my time of need.
That was the most important covenant I had ever made with Him.
I survived. I am still alive. By Heavenly Father’s Grace, Love, and Forgiveness
I also know what happened when I broke that covenant with Heavenly Father.
I made a decision, based on greed, the desires of the flesh, and what I felt was my own good. I stepped off the beam. And into the pit of hell. I was there, I know what happened.
I was unrepentant, until the day, Heavenly Father stepped back into my life, not of my own choosing, but because I needed Him, and that decision was made for me, because I did not know any better.
I began my long journey back to Heavenly Father. And it took a LONG time. I don’t know that I had begun to atone for my sins, but that was coming.
When I got to that pivotal day, that I uttered the name of God, and I got on my knees and Prayed for the first time in a long time, that covenant was renewed.
I asked Heavenly Father for help. I threw all of me on the table. I gave it all up to Him. And I swore an oath to Heavenly Father, that I would do whatever He told me to do, and to go where ever He wanted me to go.
Once again, I was ALL IN.
When that covenant was renewed, Heavenly Father opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He put people in my life who led me here. And in thanks, the first thing I did when I got here, was to go to Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal and say Thank You.
When I met my then boyfriend, we knew, we were both ALL IN. Even before we hit that church on the 20th of November 2004, Heavenly Father tested us both to see how ALL IN we really were. We got married and have been ALL IN from the very first moment we spoke.
Fifteen years later, I am on my way, to making the biggest covenants with Heavenly Father I will ever make. Last week, I was given that list. And I came home with that list. And over the last week, Heavenly Father is whittling away everything I need to get rid of in preparation for when those covenants must be made, which will lead me to the day when I reach the Waters.
I told my Missionaries tonight that I was All In. I’ve been all in. And they, in turn, have said that of all the men, in my specific situation, that they have had discussions with, I have come the farthest, in the shortest amount of time.
I know Heavenly Father, (read: GOD) I have heard his voice. And I know that He exists.
I am told, after conversing about Sunday’s observations, people who have been in the church for so long, tend to forget, why they go to church on Sunday and to keep the Sabbath Holy.
They tend to forget about Mercy, Grace and their commitment to covenant.
Getting sober is an act of penitence. It is an act of rehabilitation. It is an act of, in time, of letting go and letting God.In the process of the Steps, we begin to atone for the wrongs we have done, and they people we have hurt.
Twenty two years ago, I made that first covenant that saved my life, I wasn’t so connected to healthy sober people, and I failed in that attempt.
But Heavenly Father was there, I just turned my eyes away from Him.
I began the slow journey back to health. I began to restore my spirit. I began The Work that has continued into my fifteenth year of sobriety. I wanted and prayed for a new experience.
Becoming a Latter Day Saint IS a new experience for sure.
It was Elder Sorenson, who approached me on that platform, he had thrown it all in, and struck up a conversation, which led to Elder Christianson, which led to discussions, which led to tonight.
Joseph Smith had this revelation:
“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be they constant companion.”
Doctrines and Covenants 121:45-46
I read this scripture to Elder Christianson. He laughed. He told me a story about himself, and said that my reading this to him was a sign from God. That it was his favorite Scripture.
How does an Elder know that Heavenly Father is at work ?
There are no coincidences. But since we first met, there have been many.
So they are taking their time guiding me to the waters. Sadly Elder Christainson, will leave Montreal on the 22nd of this month. We only have one more discussion together, before a new companion enters the stage.
We are ALL IN.
When you give it all to Heavenly Father, and you do all that you can, Heavenly Father will give you all that He has in return. Mercy comes, Grace is provided, and covenants are blessed, as long as we keep up our end of the deal.
A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things …. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.
When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make his sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not, seek his face in vain…