I realize that I am supposed to be writing a relationship blog, and somehow my writing has morphed into more of a free-for-all, but sometimes there are so many thoughts and opinions swirling around in my head, I just have to get them out.
So again, another day, another dollar, and another article that isn’t quite about marriage. But it might still be relevant to life anyhow.
After a weekend spent in personal reflection, I was left with three main thoughts that have since coalesced into one firm belief.
- Over the weekend, the high school quarterback at the school my nieces and nephew attend died after being sacked under the Friday night lights. It was a shocking wake up for Warren Hills Regional High school students, and many of them are left asking “why?”
- After reading a posting on a social media website questioning the need for paying tithing, I did a little reflecting myself.
- My husband was asked to teach the gospel doctrine class this Sunday and the topic was ‘Jesus Christ: “The Author and Finisher of our faith”’. His preparation led to a better understanding of where I want to focus my life.
Let’s start with number one.
- Losing a loved one is hard. It is even more confusing when the one that passes on is young and had a full life to look forward to. Without time to prepare for the devastating outcome of death, friends and family are left to question “Why?”
Often the cry goes out: “Why would God do this? Doesn’t He care? Doesn’t He know?”
But that is just it. We do view this life with mortal eyes. From our vantage point, we define life as it applies to us, even though all around us others are defining their own life themselves. Life on Earth is as different as there are people-everyone has their own reality.
That, I believe, is why when we are faced with challenges, it is so hard for us to comprehend them. We cannot see the forest for the trees, as the old saying goes. From a greater vantage point, however, we can determine that not only is there a forest filled with trees, but there is beauty in the life cycle of birth, growth, death, and decay as well.
I know that my nieces and nephew are struggling right now to understand how their friend could be gone. They will feel emotions that they have only toyed with before. It will take time for them to understand and grow from this turning point in their life.
But I have already begun to see the beauty from the ashes.
- In no time at all, my nephew and his friends printed off shirts to sell as a fundraiser to support the young man’s family.
- The community has come together to remember the example their friend has set.
- And many friends have said they are more determined to be like him.
Sometimes the answer to “Why?” is just “Because”. Tragedies strike every day that we are not aware of, but God is. While he cannot take away the pain felt by those closely connected, just knowing that there is Someone out there can give us the courage to climb out of the rubble and move upward.
- Tithing, why pay it if the Church doesn’t really need it?
I understand this question. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it stands today, is by no means lacking in resources. Much of the resources the Church brings in do come from tithing donations.
This would be hard for me to swallow for one reason, and one reason only:
If the Church began asking for tithing in these modern times.
As it stands, and if my scripture studies have not led me astray, tithing has been a part of Christ’s church since the beginning of time. He has always asked for a tenth of one’s increase as a way of expressing obedience and gratitude for all that He giveth.
In Malachi 3:10 we read:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove me now herewith,
saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing.”
A quick search on the history of the Book of Malachi, as found in the Old Testament, suggests that it was written between 500 and 400 B.C. If my calculations are correct, and they quite possible could be wrong as math is not my strong suit, this puts this particular commandment well before our current 21st century.
As with any commandment, it is up to us what we make of it.
“Your attitude is important in paying tithing. Pay it because you love the Lord and have faith in Him. Pay it willingly with a thankful heart. Pay it first, even when you think you do not have enough money to meet your other needs. Doing so will help you develop greater faith, overcome selfishness, and be more receptive to the Spirit.” -LDS.org
As with the passing of a loved one, paying tithing is something that we might not understand at first. But overtime as we look for the beauty in the results, we will begin to determine what the outcome means for ourselves.
You do not have to understand something to believe that good can come of it, even when we question “Why?”
What matters is where you allow your heart to dwell.
- It is possible that there is actually an answer to “Why?”
But understanding that answer requires us to look further than our own front door. If there really is more to life than just this mortal experience, than we must adopt an eternal perspective. We must focus on why we have come to earth, what we are doing here, and where we are going after.
Death and tithing seem incomprehensible when viewed through a worldly lens. Giving up life and money just goes against the grain. Right?
After reading through the Sunday School lesson, entitled Jesus Christ: The Author and Finisher of our Faith, I am convinced otherwise. I believe that there is more to life than just this mortal experience. And I believe that if we do not keep Christ as the focus of our lives, than we are in danger of losing our eternal perspective.
The lesson focuses on Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews during a time when members of Christ’s church were doubting whether Jesus Christ was really the Messiah. They did not believe that the Law of Moses had really been fulfilled. In fact, they wanted to continue on just as they always did.
It is my belief that when we lack in understanding, delving deeper into the “Why?” helps us to understand the “Because.”
Paul explained to the Hebrews that the Law of Moses was symbolic of all that Christ would come to earth to do. Practicing the Law of Moses was supposed to draw their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and to make them realize that there was no other way to gain salvation and eternal life.
It is only through Christ that we can be saved.
And because Christ came to earth and fulfilled all that He said He would, He gets to determine what comes next. It is by faith and obedience to His name and His commandments that we will gain all that He offers in the next life.
There is no other way. His game, His rules.
Choosing to have an eternal perspective keeps our mind firmly fixed on His game and His rules. It provides an answer to “why?”
There are times that I too forget the answer to “Why?” I wonder about obedience, commandments, tragedies, and life. When I focus on only what I can see before me, I don’t have an answer for “Why?” and “Because” seems way too harsh.
It is only when I remember to look up, and focus on the world around me–the sun, the moon, the stars, and the vast expanse of land and people all around me, that I suddenly remember that it is not just me on this earth.
I know that my trials are just a small portion of the many that way our world down.
I know that the confusions I have are just as important as the conundrums of others.
And I also know that there is a way out of it all. Christ has already overcome our sins, our sadness, and our pain. If we are obedient and rely on His name, we can move onward and upward.
Choosing to be obedient should not come from a place of fear or persuasion, but from a place of choice and love.
If you are questioning Christ’s role in your life, ask yourself this question:
Have I been putting on the Whole Armor of God each day?
Honest prayer, scripture study, and reflection on answered prayers will help you to regain your eternal perspective and to remember the role Jesus Christ plays in your own life.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.