In fast and testimony meeting a sister bore her testimony of what she perceived to be a great spiritual battle waging in our time. All around, she said, the adversary threatened the spirituality of God’s children- and she wondered how we might more effectively wield our swords of the spirit; adorned in the armour of God. I thought of that imagery and had to agree with her. In fact, it had been weighing on my mind for a number of months. It was a question I likened to myself: was I a valiant soldier of the latter-days, or was I cruising through the destruction and allowing myself to get bashed and bloodied along the way? I thought of Peter’s sentiment- that in this time the adversary would roam the earth like a roaring lion. I thought of that noise– the contention and unrest in politics and society; the callous and popular theories of man that clouded doctrine; the ugliness of the absence of God-fearing men and women.
Lately I’ve been finding it hard to drown out the “roaring”. In the past three months, the UK has been hit by a number of major terrorist attacks that have injected panic and fear into our cities and societies. And beyond the drowning and almost constant news stories that suck away my monthly cell phone data allowance, I have to admit that the adversary knows just how to push my own personal buttons. Another sister bore her testimony of the great symbolism of the temple: that once inside, the noise of the outside world is silenced, and there, peace and stillness abides. I thought of my own temple- this body given to me- earned by pre-mortal self- to be a likewise refuge, centred in peace and certainty. Do I treat it that way? Or does the adversary succeed in bashing in the walls, breaking the windows, ultimately coaxing me into resenting that most precious gift he never qualified to have?
In a time such as this, both in the world and in my own little world, the need for holiness is critical. We used our presidency lesson to consider more closely the ways we could inject holiness into our lives.
Awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion… Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is His grace sufficient for you, that by His grace ye may be perfect in Christ.
Moroni 10: 31-32
We started with a harrowing task: to assess our current situation in the way we lived our day-to-day lives. Using the idea of a pie-chart, I challenged the women in our class to privately go away later that week and honestly assess where they put their time every day. What percentage of time did they allot to superficial or unnecessary things? What things were essential in their day? Where was God in their day? Could they see enough of Him, or did it shock and disappoint them that He was not there? What were our priorities on a day-to-day basis?
With this in mind, we chose to look at the hymn, More Holiness Give Me in three specific ways: we’d look at the virtues listed in the song that centred on (i) personal goals, (ii) overcoming adversity and (iii) anchors to our Saviour.
Personal Goals: Rooted in making and keeping Sacred Covenants
Covenants—or binding promises between us and Heavenly Father—are essential for our eternal progression. Step-by-step, He tutors us to become like Him by enlisting us in His work. At baptism we covenant to love Him with all our hearts and love our sisters and brothers as ourselves. In the temple we further covenant to be obedient, selfless, faithful, honourable, charitable. We covenant to make sacrifices and consecrate all that we have. Forged through priesthood authority, our kept covenants bring blessings to fill our cups to overflowing. How often do you reflect that your covenants reach beyond mortality and connect you to the Divine? Making covenants is the expression of a willing heart; keeping covenants, the expression of a faithful heart.
Bonnie D. Parkin
- Covenants coax us out of comfort zones and into new growth
- Covenants save us from needless suffering
- Covenants renewed invigorate and refresh a weary soul
- Covenants protect us from being “tossed to and fro”
- Covenants can keep us and those we love spiritually safe and prepared
Overcoming Adversity: Rooted in making and keeping covenants (again!)
Sometimes we are faced with keeping our covenants when there seems to be no logical reason to do so. I listened to a single sister tell of her experience of “coming to trust the Lord completely.” Her life had not worked out as she had expected. Sound familiar? This period of soul-searching was marked by changing jobs, new financial pressures, tugs from worldly philosophies. Now listen to what she did. She sat down with other sisters in her ward and found that they too were searching to find the peace the gospel brings. She asked for a priesthood blessing. She valiantly carried forward in her calling. She studied and tried to more fully commit her love, appreciation, and conviction to Jesus. She prayed. “I cried to the Lord,” she said, “and told Him I would do whatever He would ask of me.” She did all this despite those difficulties. And do you know what happened? No, her eternal companion did not appear on her doorstep. But peace made its way into her heart, and life got better.
Bonnie D. Parkin
Meekness is vital to becoming more Christlike. Without it one cannot develop other important virtues. Mormon indicated, “None is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart” (Moro. 7:44). Acquiring meekness is a process. We are asked to “take up [the] cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Our lifting should not be an occasional exercise. More meekness does not translate to weakness, but “it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindnessand gentleness.It reflects certitude, strength, serenity; it reflects a healthy self-esteem and a genuine self-control” (Neal A. Maxwell). More meekness will allow us to be tutored by the Spirit.
Anchors to Our Saviour: Testifying of the Saviour
Our hope for holiness is centred in Christ, in His mercy and His grace. With faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we may become clean, without spot, when we deny ourselves of ungodliness and sincerely repent. We are baptized by water for the remission of sins. Our souls are sanctified when we receive the Holy Ghost with open hearts. Weekly, we partake of the ordinance of the sacrament. In a spirit of repentance, with sincere desires for righteousness, we covenant that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ, remember Him, and keep His commandments so that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. Over time, as we continually strive to become one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we become partakers of Their divine nature… I testify that as we come unto the Holy One of Israel, His Spirit will come upon us, that we may be filled with joy and receive a remission of sins and peace of conscience.
Carol F. McConkie
We concluded the lesson with that ever-daunting and ever-encouraging challenge: “therefore, what manner of [women] ought ye to be?”, and we committed to prayerfully challenge ourselves to take the virtues of the hymn personally, and choose a couple that we might strive to improve upon.
I see the beauty of holiness in sisters whose hearts are centred on all that is good, who want to become more like the Savior. They offer their whole soul, heart, might, mind, and strength to the Lord in the way that they live every day. Holiness is in the striving and the struggle to keep the commandments and to honour the covenants we have made with God. Holiness is making the choices that will keep the Holy Ghost as our guide.Holiness is setting aside our natural tendencies and becoming “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.”
Carol F. McConkie
We emphasised that sentiment outlined by Sister McConkie: Holiness is in the striving and the struggle to keep the commandments and honour the covenants we make. In the struggle: think of that! How merciful our God is that our failings and our stumblings are sacred in His eyes. That that sorry state we dread is the very part of holiness that reflects our diving worth. We are children of a living God. We are designed to need a Saviour: we were created to struggle. At the beginning of the lesson I mentioned those words from Peter that described the adversary as a roaring lion. Further along in that chapter, the words are, “And then, after that ye have suffered a while…” (1 Pet 5:10) – how necessary is this refining and holy process of using the atonement in our lives. May we be reverent about that process, may we be patient with our flawed and struggling selves, and may we ever make room for holiness in our day-to-day lives.
You can download a copy of the handout here: more holiness give me