“How Can I Withstand the Presence of the Lord?” Tambuli, Dec. 1988, 13
How Can I Withstand the Presence of the Lord?
During a priesthood leadership session of our stake conference, the question was asked: “What would you ask the Lord Jesus Christ if he showed himself in this meeting?” I pondered the question. In my mind, and deeper in my heart, I felt my real answer would be to ask him—even beg him—not to come close to me.
I would ask to be excused, for how can I withstand the presence of the Lord, even the Son of the Living God. He who is all might and power. He who created the heavens and the earth. He who holds power over death. He who holds all flesh in his hands. Who am I to be able to withstand the glory of the Son of God?
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord? He planned that I would have the opportunity to live a mortal probation, that I may be tested of faith and experience things I could not do in the pre-existence. He wants us to be like our Father in Heaven. Yet, now that I have accepted his plan for my salvation and partake in its implementation, I complain about my circumstances in life.
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord? I shouted for joy in the pre-existence when I came to know that it was my turn to be born, yet the first thing I did after coming out of my mother’s womb was to cry. As soon as I was able to see and recognize things I started complaining about my circumstances and started comparing myself with others. I ask myself, “Why was I born in a house made of bamboo and of parents who are not rich?” Yet, the Son of God was born in a place where animals are kept for the night, laid not on a bed, but in a manger where animal’s food is placed.
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord? He is the light and life of the world, he has commanded me also to be a light, yet I am the one who is in the dark.
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord? He is supreme, he is the King of kings. He desires that I should be patient and humble. How can I withstand his presence when I feel bad when someone misspells my name? I feel offended when I am not acknowledged. I feel angry when I am criticized. I shout when my requirements are not met. Yet, he who sits at the right hand of the Father, he who commands leagues of Heavenly hosts allowed himself to be spat upon, to be mocked, ridiculed, and stripped of his clothing.
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord, he who gave the greatest sacrifice of all? He took upon himself all the sins of mankind. His every pore shed precious blood because of my transgressions. He allowed himself to be nailed to the cross for my sake. He asks me now to love my neighbor … yet I do not even know who most of my neighbors are. Or if I come to know that they are in need of my help I am most busy. If one I know is sick, I stay away from him. His sickness may be contagious. If somebody I know is hungry, I thank God for blessing my table with plenty of food. When I see an extended arm begging for a few centavos, I am very sure that he or she is a member of a syndicate and that he or she is just taking advantage of me. When someone dies, I think of my health and schedule for a medical check-up. When I give a party the orphans and the widows are the last on my guest list.
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord, even the Lord Jesus Christ. None other name is given whereby man can be saved. He desires that I take his name upon me and use it with a full purpose of heart to serve him with all my might, mind, and strength. But yet I could find time to serve him only a few hours on Sundays. It is even difficult for me to visit my neighbor once a month. It is difficult for me to do his will if my car breaks down. If I get an assignment I say, “why me?”
How can I withstand the presence of the Lord, even Alpha and Omega, the great I Am, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world? He accomplished the will of the Father. He subdued all things unto himself, retaining all power even to the destroying of Satan. He will judge every single man according to the works he has done. He suffered because of my transgressions, “which suffering caused [him], even God the greatest of all to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore and to suffer both body and spirit.” (D&C 19:18–19.) Yet I continue to sin. I continue to justify my transgression because I am “just human.” I continue to defend my name and my pride. My knees are stiff and difficult to bend and to kneel. My neck has many strong bones that make it difficult for my head to bow. My tongue is tied which makes it difficult for me to thank and praise my Lord. My attention is focused on all that glitters in the world. My ears listen for the sounds of merry making. My mind is filled with desires and dreams of instant wealth and fame. My heart is numb to the needs of my neighbor.
If the Lord shows himself unto me, I will beg that he will go away from me. But, in the deepest chambers of my heart, I know that I need him. My soul cries and seeks for my Redeemer. He is my Savior. I will beg that he will be concerned about me, that he may mention my name unto my Father in Heaven, even just in passing. I know that my Redeemer loves me. I know that in my condition, I need a savior, a savior who is just and merciful, a savior who is forgiving.
I have not seen the Lord. I may not see him in this life, but I pray that when the opportunity comes, I will earn the privilege to meet him. I have instructed my knees not to wait for my command to bend and kneel down in reverence, that I may give praise and thanksgiving to my Savior and Redeemer, even the Son of the Living God, even Jesus, the Christ.