Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Measure of a Man

I remember a few years ago, an older man joined the church and became active in our Ward. His enthusiasm for the gospel and his participation in the activity of our Ward were a wonder to behold. He wanted to drink fully from the fountain of church membership. He attended his meetings. He went to all the socials. He jumped at the chance to serve. When the kids went to the Temple to do baptisms for the dead, being not yet endowed, he sought the chance to do baptisms. He was always there, smiling, enthusiastic, eager to learn.

Somewhere in this process I heard someone comment that, "he's trying to catch up for lost time." The observer had supposed that our friend, due to his late discovery of the church, was way behind in his progress. I beg to differ. I think he was keeping pace, if not just a little ahead of the rest of us.

The supposition that Billy, for that is his name, was somehow behind, presupposes that life long members of the church are somehow ahead. Ahead of what? Ahead of who? Hopefully, we're ahead of where we, personally, once were; but I'd be loathe to suppose I was ahead of anyone else.

Such a supposition also seems to exclude Billy's former (pre-membership) life as null and void. As if we only get credit for the way we live if we're members of the church. As if our progress begins only after baptism. Billy always lived a good life. He was faithful to his wife. He responsibly raised responsible children. He worked hard for his employer. He was generous with those in need. He was honest and forthright in his dealings with others. He was happy, gregarious, enthusiastic, kind, thoughtful and good - even then. In fact, if I were to take Billy's measurement, I'd say 95% of Billy's goodness, in deed and character, preceeded his baptism. He certainly lacked the ordinances and with the covenants those ordinances represent, Billy became perfected in Christ - then - on the day of his baptism. He had no catching up to do. He was as caught up as any member of the church anywhere. His accounts were paid in full because he'd humbly entered a covenant with the only one who could settle Billy's account, or mine, or yours.

Was Billy perfect? Am I? Are you? Billy came to mortality for the experience to be had in a body. He had that in full. He experienced what a body has to offer; pleasure and pain, sickness and health, vigor and exhaustion. He came to earth to learn, serve and grow. He also came to mortality to reaffirm his faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of the Father's Plan to bring us home to receive all that He has to give us. Billy did all of those things and in my view, he did them right on time. Billy wasn't catching up, he was drinking in. Absorbing every ounce of mortal experience he could soak up.

Good on ya Billy!

1 comment:

Love Life and Learning said...

Elder Dallin Oaks agrees with too!

You've written some great posts....I am working my way backwards through them. Love you Myke!


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