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They were losing until in the last few seconds of the game, through some extraordinary feat of skill or luck or brilliance, Jordan had single handedly won the game that would take them to the finals. But, now, how to convince parents that playing on Sunday was no big deal, and a duty owed to the team! Undoubtedly, humbly listening to a lecture, and then agreeing to pray about it would be a small price to pay so a championship could be theirs. The thrill was almost impossible to get over, the scholarships, the news media… b-u-t the lecture…awwgh…

“Jordan, can we talk?” (Dad said, laying his hand on Jordan’s shoulder)

“Yah, OK.…”

“What would you be willing to do to gain super powers?”

“Wha… super powers…like what?”

“Well, I don’t know…say the ability to fly, or super intelligence…something like that…”

“Dad, what does this have to do with the Sunday finals coming up?”

“Just humor me, Jordan, I know this is hypothetical but please take it seriously, OK?”

“Yah, well I don’t know…you mean like work or pay money…what do you mean?”

“OK, let me change perspectives… suppose that you had unlimited power and wanted to give it to someone. What would you want to know about them first?”

“Well, everything, I guess…why?”

“I would think that is a good answer because once you gave them power equal to yours, you wouldn’t be able to take it back. If they had any hidden weaknesses or allegiance to someone or something, then they could become a danger to all that you hold dear!”

“Yah, I get that… so how would you find that kind of stuff out?”

“I don’t know completely, let’s think it through because that is exactly what I was asking about your receiving super powers…what would you be willing to do to prove yourself and discover your hidden weaknesses and allegiances, so they could be strengthened and changed.”

“Wow, I would have to think about that. I would like to think that I am brave and all, at least the team thinks that I am. But if I had to face some awful danger or endure a tragic loss of a leg or something, I don’t know if I would be willing… I mean it would change my whole life and plans! It might even disqualify me for something that is really important… like… I don’t know…like children, or a mission, or I might even die!!!”

“OK, I see what you mean! But would the loss of a leg and the freedom to run, be a fair trade for…. Say the ability to fly? Could sacrifice of some very important things be worth it in the long term?”

“W-e-llll, I know that I would love to fly! I guess that would be better than just running, so yah, I could see that if I knew what the trade… cause that’s what you mean by sacrifice, right? If I knew what I was getting for what I was losing then I could see enduring almost anything to gain the right things… wait a minute…this isn’t about some hypothetical super powers, is it?”

“No, not the hypothetical ones…the real ones!”

“Dad, there aren’t any real super powers… lots of great talent but not real super powers… right?”

“Explore with me for a minute, please. Who are you really and what do hope for in the long run?”

“Oh, I get it… I am a child of God and hope to become like God! But what’s the terrible test?”

“Well, Father promises to give you unlimited powers to create universes, dimensions, kingdoms, powers, etc. But a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, you agreed to face memory loss, identity loss, a weakness for chocolate, a lost ability to fly, a gradually developing ability to think, blindness to all but physical materials, a controlling desire for attention, recognition, curiosity, entertainment, etc. You agreed to grow up under all those limitations AND face a powerful invisible enemy with a huge army that is dedicated to your distraction from your potential, your misery[i], as well as your destruction. They know how to use your weaknesses against you. They have weapons and armies, skilled in traps, and bait. AND since they are invisible, they have recruited mortals posing as friends and idols to get you hooked on anything from candy to fame.”

“Dad, you make mortality sound like an impossible test! I have been kind of enjoying it!”

“That is the point… without a memory of pre-earth life, we fall so in love with the telestial that we give up the celestial. Jordan, I am not trying to lay some kind of guilt trip. I know that there are legitimate reasons to do things on the Sabbath that don’t seem very spiritual. Some people have even agreed to work on Sunday for our protection, or utilities, you know. There are two biblical things and one restored principle that when understood make the Sabbath much more than just a day of self-denial. Not breaking the Sabbath is not the same thing as keeping it either. Can I share those three things with you before I leave you to your God and your agency?”

“Well, I don’t know, I didn’t really want a lecture about stuff I have heard so many times already. You are just supposed to say, ‘it’s up to you but be sure and pray about it.’”

“I know, but since the prophet has asked us to study The Sabbath last year, I have found some really awesome and empowering things I think that you are old enough to get excited about, if you will let me share them. I’ll make you a deal. If you begin to hear old stuff then you can fast-forward me, OK?”

“OK, thanks, Dad…will this be long??

“When you are ready, I will share the long-detailed version. For now, I will give you the highlights, but if you have questions, you have to ask them even if it risks going a little longer, OK?”

“Deal. What’s the first thing of the three?”

“The first is easy and something you already know but probably doubt sometimes. It comes from Moses 1:39. Can you quote that one?”

“Uh…, something like, “My work and glory is to exalt man.”[ii] Or, something like that.”

“That is close enough, good job. Now, if God is perfect, do you think that He is pretty good at exalting what He creates?”

“Yah, except for agency…I guess we can limit Him, in what He will do, if we just don’t want it.”

“Well said… I have found that the gospel only becomes sufficiently enticing by investing in the daily small things like scripture study, prayer, Sabbath keeping, tithing, and temple attendance. Then service to others is a natural result of the gift of charity given to all true disciples[iii]. Missing the small things makes covenant keeping a heavy religious burden that interferes with our worldly agendas. Father knew we were coming to a very dangerous world. He even said that through agency we would condemn ourselves.[iv] So, He placed us into this potentially fatal testing situation, with some powerful protections; some armor and shielding. Here is the principle; Everything God asks of us is meant to protect and exalt us, to change us, not burden us but to bring us joy.”[v]

“OK, but I know that it doesn’t feel like that sometimes. If life is meant to be all about joy, why do religious things keep you from doing things that are fun and bring joy? Whether religion asks us to sacrifice time or money, it is still sacrifice, which isn’t fun at all!”

“I get that… our natural man, or natural appetites that live for fun, are part of a physical body that, like getting a new puppy, can be awesome, cute, and precious unless left untrained. Then it becomes demanding, distracting, and destructive. That is what I meant by ‘the little things’ which help us train our bodies into instruments of light. Did you know that the scriptures seem to equate the feeling of joy with the reception of divine light?[vi] Fun things are certainly enjoyable but without divine light that brings joy, fun things ‘taste’ good but then they can demand, distract, and destroy.[vii]

“So, are you saying that our test isn’t just a bunch of trials that God inflicts upon us but rather are just part of our satan infested fallen world and our natural man?” If so, it makes me see Father in Heaven as this powerful being that is on my side, working to help me through this mortal maze!”

“Jordan, that is brilliantly stated… are you sure you are just eighteen?”

“Come on, Dad…” So, in your list of small things you included the Sabbath. All my life, I have been limited in what I could do on the Sabbath… and here I am again being kept from a championship. Before we talked, I admit that I wanted to play for all the great benefits it would bring me, but I also felt a responsibility to the team. If I don’t play, I become the butt of the school; the one that let religion ruin our chances at a championship. So, I hope you have some great stuff on the Sabbath because it is something I have endured not something I enjoyed! I just don’t see how it helps me get exalted.”

“OK, but no pressure, right? You probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I just said, ‘have faith’?

“Yah, that’s what they always say when there is no really good answer!”

“Well, I don’t feel that is fair. Sometimes answers come only when you are willing to act on your hope, as if it were reality…faith should lead to personal discovery and understanding. But I know that we have had this discussion before and you have prayed and taken various actions in the past. So, maybe the answers that I have been led to over this last deep study on the Sabbath won’t be as meaningful to you as they are to me. After all, paying the price includes those sacred revelatory moments with Father in Heaven. It makes the insights and understanding secondary in importance to that nurturing, personal relationship with Him, that develops in these questioning moments. Let me give you two clues and then give you a couple of days to perhaps enjoy that same experience that comes with divine discovery, then we can talk again.”

“Aww, Dad… I guess it comes down to whether I really want to know more than I want to just go win a championship!” This is not how I hoped this would go.”

“No, Jordan, this is about your real happiness not about what your puppy is barking about. Father is a miracle worker, but I don’t know what He will do with this. I am on your side and hope that there is a way to satisfy everyone but… So, do you want the two clues?”

“OK… I guess… I’ll think about them.”

“First, the Sabbath roots itself in understanding how God has chosen to tell us about the creation story. Genesis 1-2 or Moses 2-3. Either one is good. We know this connection because of what God told Moses during the thundering of Sinai in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Yah, this needs to be fast forwarded. I know that God rested on the seventh day, so we are supposed to as well. That doesn’t inspire me, Dad. Why should I rest just because someone else felt a need to rest? Besides, I don’t get that an omnipotent being needs to rest…that just doesn’t make sense!”

“Good question, Jordan. Use the online Hebrew dictionary and pray about this creation story. Then read what modern follow-up revelation tells us in DC 59 and God’s definition of rest in DC 84:24. This is really cool for those of us who are struggling through the dangerous probationary state that is supposed to be a joyous preparatory state.

Then secondly, to understand the Sabbath, one also has to understand how God works to penetrate our natural man defenses and appetites. He uses stories and symbols whereby we can measure our daily progress. The Sabbath is really a coded message. We will talk more about that in a couple of days but for now read, Exodus 31:13 with Moses 5:59 and Mark 2:27. Here is a paper with all those references. I love you, and I am on your side, Jordan!”

“I sure hope this will be worth it, Dad…”

<You may wish to go with Jordan and experience divine discovery and the accompanying revelatory companionship with Father. > Jordan’s sequel study of these principles was published here: https://ldsmag.com/his-day-to-perfect-us/ and then here: https://ldsmag.com/sabbath-a-sign-or-a-token/

Notes: 

[i] 2 Nephi 2:18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.

Helaman 7:16 Yea, how could you have given way to the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls down to everlasting misery and endless wo?

[ii] See Moses 1:39

[iii] Moroni 7:48 this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ

[iv] DC 93:31 Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.

[v] See “Razor Wire” by Craig Frogley, Meridian Magazine

[vi] See DC 88:51-59; or Alma 19:6 this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul

[vii] See 1 Nephi 18:9-15 Fun -> rudeness -> spiritual amnesia -> exceeding rudeness -> anger -> power struggle -> violence -> consequences