Have you ever wanted something you didn’t deserve?
I had a wonderful science teacher in junior high. He taught a summer course I was enrolled in. He taught many basic scientific principles, but what really caught my fancy were the animals he kept. There was the rattlesnake that he would allow us to feed whenever a child brought in a live mouse. The serpent invoked a sense of respectful horror when observed in action. It was always unnerving to think of that snake escaping.
At the other end of the spectrum were the chinchillas. These friendly little critters were like super-soft puff balls. A cotton-ball feels like sandpaper when compared to a chinchilla. I loved these furry grey creatures and so, when one day the teacher indicated that he would give one of the chinchillas away in exchange for a bag of feed, I could hardly contain my excitement. I immediately pressed my dad about the offer and he agreed to help. In my youthful mind, I didn’t really understand the nature of the exchange. I somehow justified in my mind that my teacher really wanted to see that we could take care of the chinchilla and so he wouldn’t mind if we kept part of the feed. My teacher was a bit disappointed in my offer, but seeing my excitement he agreed to the discounted exchange.
I was pretty poorly set up for this furry creature. The old cage I had wasn’t ideal, and I soon found that he wasn’t as friendly as I had thought. Being alone in an unfamiliar place in a back shop area made him nervous. He escaped me when I took him out and he disappeared into the debris of the shop… and so ended my days as a pet chinchilla owner. I didn’t deserve the gift because I hadn’t really paid for it, and now I had lost it.
The point of this cautionary tale is that special gifts require special preparation. In Step 7 we ask our Heavenly Father for a gift:
Step 7: Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
This request drove me to my knees in tearful humility. I so wanted this gift, but I am so overwhelmed by weaknesses, but something changed deep in my soul when I asked with my whole heart, holding nothing back.
As I sat in the Salt Lake Temple waiting for a session to begin, I sought guidance in where to read and my fingers were led to section 76. The only scriptures that held my gaze were verses 92-95, where it tells of Celestial Glory excelling in all things, where all things bow in humble reverence and give God, even the Father glory forever and ever… where beings see as they are seen and know as they are known. “And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.”
As I pondered a world with perfect discernment of all things, the spirit nudged me to move forward to D&C 78:18
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
This was given me of the Spirit and felt I was washed completely clean as the day I was baptized. I gained faith that I could eventually make it. I have to watch myself in my thoughts, heart and action (there are more steps!), but it gave me hope.
Seek this gift with your whole heart! None of us want what we deserve! With repentance, this gift that we could never claim on our own merits will be freely given.