I have been fond of saying that the eyes of your own children are the closest thing to a Urim and Thummim you are ever apt to look into.
There is something right about that statement.
There is intense joy that is meant to be part of the gospel. We do things that cloud our vision, and cut us off from the joy and delight the gospel is meant to bring.
I wish I had power to convey the meaning of what I am saying.
In our big bureaucracy busy world we tend to pass by the joys of the gospel. And those joys are not only, well, joyful, they are critical aspects of a spiritual life. Sadly, we bring that big business philosophy into our chapels. We make mountains out of molehill callings to improve our spiritual resume. We sacrifice time with our family and children to accomplish things of no particular spiritual value or moment, and we do it wearing a spiritual badge of honor that we are being so righteous.
One of the most extreme, and to my mind, disturbing examples, was a couple who were certainly very kind. They were very devoted to doing service for others. But they decided that they were going to limit the number of children they had so they could devote their lives more fully to serving in the church.
What an upside down perversion of the gospel. They will be ministering angels in the celestial kingdom if they don’t repent.
D&C 88:33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.
How can God give them a gift in eternity that they openly rejected in mortality? Will he accept an offering from their hand other than the one he requires? It doesn’t matter that they violated the sealing covenant for the sake of doing yet more church service. They may have just as well have done so for the sake of building an ark. They lost their reverence for family, and for their actual covenants, thinking they knew of themselves. They have somehow forgotten what it means to be God, as if they were praying every night to a Heavenly Bishop. Have they addressed God every night, every morning, every evening by the name Father, and still not learned the first thing, namely that what defines him, in his own mind, is that he is our Father in Heaven?
My wife and I have tried to ensure that we always have at least an hour, and preferably two hours, to spend together at night. Just the two of us. Not time next to each other ignoring one another on cell phones or laptops. It has to be time together. I look back on that decision as being critical in my life.
I think in the wards I have been in many of the leaders felt they were living a higher law by doing their calling and having very little time to spend with their family members. They spoke as if having an hour, much less two, to spend with one’s wife every single night was a luxury of sorts. They had great big callings that made that impossible. Or so they felt.
I don’t think that I agree.
Our greatest covenant is our marriage covenant. The joy of that gift replenishes and strengthens it.
But there is more to it. The joy of the gift also slowly transforms us spiritually.
Maybe that is what it is.
Taking in the joy of the gifts God bestows upon us transforms us spiritually over time.
I do not believe being too busy doing good things to delight in the joys of wife and children is actually the more spiritual route.
I find that when I spent less than an hour a day specifically spending time with my wife that things became tense between us easily. There is meaning in that. It tells me that I was falling below the danger level. I was falling below the bare minimum. It is not a safe place to be close to.
Now, it is true that God must come above our spouse. God must come first. Period.
But enjoying our greatest gifts: our wife and children, and taking delight in them full of gratitude to that God who pours out such delight on our souls as is to be found in the eyes of our children and in the presence of our loving spouse ties our souls to his.
That happiness is not available to the world. In that joy there is naturally gratitude. In that gratitude the Holy Spirit dwells, and he transforms us as we partake.
The practices of the world, found largely among the saints as well, give the adversary influence in their lives. The world’s wicked practices anger the Lord against them, and against us as well, insofar as we partake.
When we are partaking of anything that is offensive to the Holy Ghost then we do not experience the full joy of our family. We then see our children dimly, as the world sees their own. Sure, even in the world, there is some joy many parents take in their children. But compared to the joy God grants to us as we come out from under the adversary’s influence and come more and more under God’s influence, the joy found in the world are a tap water faucet compared, as it were, to the Missouri river in its decreed course . The world’s happiness does not exceed their willingness to hearken to the light of Christ, which would inspire them down the path of happiness and perfect peace.
Maybe this is the lesson.
1 Nephi 8:12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
There were those who arrived at the tree and began eating the fruit, but still heeded the mocking of the world. Of them we read:
1 Nephi 8:4 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.
But of others we read that, having arrived at the tree, they “fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree”. They partook fully of the joy of the tree. We may think it is selfish to do something that makes us happy. But when it comes to the joys that God bestows, he feels very differently that we are inclined to. There is spiritual safety in falling down and feasting on the joy that he offers us. And to do so is his intention for us, as there is no greater question in mortality than whether we will earn exaltation, and those who fell down and feasted were those who were later exalted.
There is a lesson to be learned in the fact that those who partook of the joy that God offered them were safe. These people were spiritually transformed in time as they partook freely of the joy that God offered them.
We must live to free ourselves from the adversary’s influence, and in these days that particularly means refusing to look at, listen to, or read that which is immodest, or which means to entice, or seem seductive, even by innuendo. If we will do so we will come more and more under our Father’s influence in time. And those joys which he bestows will blossom and flourish and fill us with joy that his hidden from the wise, and the rich, the proud, and the learned. They will become a beacon to our feet. They will fill us with gratitude and light. The joy God bestows on us through our own wife and children will become a guide to us and a means of coming to know him as the Holy Ghost settles upon us in our gratitude to our Father in heaven for bestowing such delight and happiness upon us.