No Small Thing….To Me
Tonight, I had an epiphany so exciting that I could hardly wait to get in front of my computer. It may not be a big deal to any other planet inhabitant. But, it is huge to this one.
Searching the Covenants
Great emphasis is placed on the importance of keeping the covenants we make in the temple. In the summer of 2015, as part of my faith journey, I carefully reviewed those weighty promises. Quickly, I found myself with more questions than answers. For the next 3 months, I diligently searched, studied, examined and prayed in an attempt to understand exactly what my commitments meant. Attempts were made to discuss them in the men’s meeting held every Sunday. No dice. Supposedly it’s forbidden to discuss temple covenants in public. I then asked church friends and leaders in private. Initially, everybody said they understood what these sacred promises meant. With the shallowest of interrogation, NOBODY had answers. In fact, almost without exception, as I continued to press, this response would eventually rear it’s ironic head, “Sam, why do you even care?” What??? Why do I care about what the temple covenants mean??? This experience was highly disappointing. I was left disillusioned and dismayed.
When I initially entered into these fateful temple covenants, I was not told in advance what the promises even were. They weren’t explained at the time I made them. Years later, I still didn’t understand them. Then, I’m told we can’t talk about them. The coup-de-grace…..nobody else knows what they mean, either.
A Lovely, Lovely Epiphany
I don’t know exactly how or why an epiphany finally bursts into view. But, it did tonight as I drove away from a family reunion. While ruminating on my covenant disappointment, it hit me. Not with a slow burn. Rather, like a distinct and sharp crack of lightning, right before my eyes.
Today, I don’t use the word “know” lightly. But, in this instant I suddenly “knew” what it means that nobody knows what my covenants mean. And, I love this revelation. My friends and leaders can’t possibly know the meaning of my covenants. I did not make the promises to them. I made them with God! Only God and I know what I have promised!!! Only I and God decide on the terms and their meaning.
How gorgeous! What freedom! Of course, the words for the covenants are the same for all. It’s the meaning of those words that are individual and perhaps unique. We are not told the meaning of the covenants in advance. Of course not. That’s because we can’t be told their meaning by others. Our promises are determined by us. We don’t study their significance in priesthood. Of course not. That’s because nobody knows their significance except the individual covenant maker.
I have struggled to get what the higher law of the temple is. I get it now. The higher law is simply this: I am a thinking, reasonable, & grown-up adult. As such, I am trusted by God to determine exactly what I can & will promise. He sets the wording. Both, and only, He and I determine the definition. YES!!! Nobody can tell me what my covenants mean…except me.
It has been over 18 months since my last temple visit. With my new epiphanific understanding, another temple visit may now be in my future.
To all my friends and leaders who had no answers, THANK YOU. And, I mean it!