Cleaning

A picture of some dishes in a sink full of soapy water

The other day, my wife and I made a mess of our kitchen cooking dinner.  We love to cook together and it is a fun way for us to spend time together and also enjoy a delicious meal as the fruits of our labors.  However, as soon as I walked into the kitchen after our dinner was done my icky sense went off.  There were dirty dishes everywhere and the kitchen was a mess!  My wife and I went to work, this time cleaning instead of cooking.  After a short while our kitchen was clean, the dishes were done, and I felt loads better.  I love the feeling of a clean room and the satisfaction I get from working to clean a room–it is definitely worth it!

In like manner we can clean our souls, a much more eternal sense of cleaning, through the Atonement and repentance.  I have been reading the General Conference talks from this last General Conference (October 2010) and found a couple of talks that address the issue of repentance and how it fits into the Father’s plan.

The first talk is from Sister Mary N. Cook.  She talks about her recently born granddaughter: “[she] came to this earth pure, but as part of the plan, she will face trials and temptations and she will make mistakes. Through our Savior’s Atonement, however, [she] can be forgiven, receive a fulness of joy, and be pure again—ready to live forever in the presence of our Heavenly Father.” (Mary N. Cook, “Be an Example of the Believers,” Ensign, November 2010).  Heavenly Father did send us to this world pure and innocent–and that was made possible because of the Atonement of our Savior (see Moroni 8).  However, He knew that in this imperfect world where Satan runs rampant that we would make mistakes.  The truth of the matter is that it is okay to make mistakes–that is the whole reason we have a Redeemer!  Heavenly Father, as part of His perfect plan and because of the perfect Atonement of Jesus Christ, provided for us to make mistakes, learn from them, repent, and be forgiven.

President Boyd K. Packer also gave a wonderful talk (Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, November 2010) and I am afraid that some of his finer points on repentance and the Plan of Salvation were lost with all the media controversy.  Here are some thoughts that I really felt tied things together for me:

First of all, President Packer speaks of the grand council in our pre-mortal life and the purpose of our existence when he made reference to this scripture:  “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” (Abraham 3:25).  We were sent to this earth to learn.

Then President Packer explains the purpose of life: “It is intended that we be happy, for ‘men are, that they might have joy.’ (2 Nephi 2:25).  We were sent to this earth not only to learn, but also to be happy and find joy!

In order to have that joy and happiness, we must be free to act and to choose–in other words, we must have agency: men must be “free . . . to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day.”(2 Nephi 2:26).  We must be able to make decisions for ourselves if we are to find enduring happiness.  This is a true principle–just look at any toddler who chooses to help clean up and compare that with one that is forced to help clean up.

President Packer then teaches that “wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10) and makes reference to Isaiah with the warning, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). What this tells us is that, while we are free to choose, if we choose wickedness then we will also be choosing unhappiness.  Also, it is a mistake when we confuse what is really considered evil and call it good.  Ergo, if we want to fulfill our purpose on this earth we need to choose the things of righteousness or else we cannot be happy.

President Packer then brings us back to our Savior by reminding us of the power of the Atonement in helping us to find joy through repentance after we have made some incorrect decisions: “Nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance. Do you understand the consummate cleansing power of the Atonement made by the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer? He said, ‘I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent.’ (D&C 19:16) In that supernal act of love, the Savior paid the penalties for our sins so that we might not have to pay.”  We really can repent and Heavenly Father is more than willing to forgive us if we choose to exercise faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our Savior suffered beyond our understanding in order to provide for all of us, if we so choose, to rejoice in the cleanness that comes from repentance.  We can be clean again, we can remove that icky sense, and we can return to live with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, once more!

In closing, I want to quote President Packer once more: “I know of no more beautiful and consoling words in all of revelation than these: ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’ (D&C 58:42)”  I am grateful for the supernal gift of repentance.  I know that we can become clean and that Heavenly Father forgives those who truly seek this gift through the Atonement of our Savior.  Let us make our souls clean again, let us repent often, and let us turn to our Lord!

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