This is my devotional address given at BYU-Hawaii, May 27, 2014. I try to give a vision of the place Latter-day Saints believe marriage has in our discipleship of Christ. The link goes to a transcript and a video of the address. The video has my wife’s introduction, plus a couple pictures not in the written text.
Concerning doubt and faith: One of the things that has helped me is to remember to be honest both with questions and with doubts (and they aren’t always the same, though sometimes they might be or they might be related), but to also be honest about the truth or faith that you do have (however inexplicable or even indefensible to others). We rarely have full certainty and light (and with some things it’s honest to say “I don’t know” or “I’m uncertain” though I’d like to believe or be more certain), but what we must do is to be true to the light we have, whatever degree of light that is. Being true to the light one has includes, but is not limited to, intellectual and personal honesty. It is more profoundly marked by a life of loving, faithful living in Christ, who is the Light.
It might be with that kind of understanding that the Lord’s admonition to “Doubt not” would make sense. At the very least, in all the doubt and uncertainty that may arise, Christ is asking us not to doubt him (which implies we have something of knowledge/light of and from him). Doubts may/will show up. He asks us not to have a doubtful heart. I don’t know all that he means by telling us not to have a doubtful heart, though that implies that what we do, how we approach things, can have an influence with some aspects of doubt. The wise counsel “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your beliefs” may be one way, though not the only way, of saying be true to the light you have and work to not have a doubtful heart, to not receive what God sends with a doubtful heart.
“You can’t have resurrection on Sunday without crucifixion on Friday,” said one of my teachers, Arthur Henry King, years ago. I believe the thought behind this and have tried not to gloss over the meaning of Good Friday, not to gloss over the negative to get too quickly to the triumph (which, without real suffering and real death, is a triumph over a straw man).
I was looking for something to read for Good Friday, some Christian thinker who could help me reflect and reconsider Christ’s time upon the cross—the meaning of it all. Ready to go, once again, and plumb the depths of his suffering and, by extension, the implication of that for our own suffering in general, and for my personal state and the state of the world around me. I had only searched my bookshelves for a moment when, out of a kind of despair, sadness, laziness (not certain what to call it), I realized I’m truly not willing or ready to go there. Not now. Maybe later. That this would happen on this day of all days. On the day when I should remember.
Let this cup pass from me.
Nevertheless. Thank God for Christ’s nevertheless and its meaning for me and for those times when I’m not willing to say the same.
A Moment on Good Friday
Christ died on a Friday afternoon. They buried him before the Sabbath. When he died – that moment he gave up breath — the world around him continued. In Jerusalem, a relative few would be aware of his death. For all that they may not have understood its meaning, they knew the reality, the concreteness of his crucifixion. They saw the wood, the nails, the blood, the nakedness of his suffering. They heard his words from the cross. They saw him die. At that moment, across the globe, people would be sleeping, waking, working, eating, waiting, fighting, sinning, suffering, playing, worshiping, being born, living, dying — all the things, from great to small, that make up life — these all continued as he died.
I don’t know that all on earth should have been made to pause at that time, or that those asleep should have been awakened. Let life go on, he might say. He had this to do alone– the wine press that only he could tread. This was the solitary working out of our salvation. “My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross,” he would later say.
“I am come that ye might have life, and that more abundantly.” He suffered that moment that we might have life—tangible, abundant, and eternal—and so that every life turned to dust and death might be repaired and renewed. For this he was sent. For this he died.
On Good Friday we deliberately pause to remember that moment. The world and life continue on as they did then. But now the difference because of Him and the cross he suffered. Now it is fitting that we who have heard his gospel should take a moment to remember the life he gave and in our own way take up the cross in imitation.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
(“Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee” verse four to six–Frances R. Havergal)