The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Christian Church UCC, Kansas City, Mo.: It’s human nature: testing the limits of God’s peaceful creation.
A man catches a look at himself in the mirror and smiles. His hair, which had been gray, is now blond and curly. He looks good with Alicia, 20 years younger, at his side. Of the new girlfriend and flashy car, a buddy remarks, “Nice midlife crisis.”
It’s true. The recent death of parents has left him feeling vulnerable.
It’s the first recorded feeling: vulnerability.
Adam and Eve are naked in the garden. At first they are good with it; they feel secure in the garden we call Earth. They have everything they need. They are not over-reaching, consuming wildly and depleting resources.
Then the serpent comes like an advertisement for facial fillers or male “enhancement,” creating needs they don’t really have, pointing out their limitations, stirring up their anxieties.
“Eat from the tree in the middle of the garden and you will not die. You will be like God.”
You will not get old and wrinkled. You won’t lose out to the woman in the next cubicle who is younger and more attractive.
They buy it. They test the boundary God established to keep the community in balance, to ensure future generations have clean air and water. So it goes; this is human nature.
It’s true for me. I’d be lost without a faith community that encourages, models and inspires: We have enough. We are enough.
Elder Donald D. Deshler, of the Seventy, Latter-day Saints, Kansas City, Mo.: As a part of God’s magnificent plan for the human race, he has sent us to earth to gain a body and to learn, grow and develop Godly attributes so we can return to live with him. To guide us during our mortal existence, God has given us commandments to live by and a savior, Jesus Christ, to teach us how to live our life by the example he set and to redeem us from our sins and mistakes.
During mortality, God wants us to show our faith by turning to him for strength, guidance and comfort when we encounter disappointments, setbacks, sorrows and struggles.
However, when we face challenging times and feel that we can bear no more, we may ask: Is God really there and does he care? Does God know what I’m feeling?
Why has God abandoned me? If he were really a loving God, why doesn’t he show me by giving me what I need?
I know that God does, indeed, know each of us perfectly. He loves and cares for us more than we can imagine.
It is against his character to ever abandon us. He wants us to become like him. He knows that in order for us to acquire God-like attributes, however, we need to experience things that will try us and stretch us, just as storms strengthen trees by causing them to take deeper root. As part of this stretching process, we are to learn to exercise faith in him and his son, Jesus Christ, and to trust their love.
Sometimes the loads or burdens we are carrying seem to be too much to bear, but to an all knowing, all loving, heavenly Father, they are exactly what we need to help us become the kind of person he would have us become.
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