I won't go into detail now, but if this week was any indication, I'm going to be pushed to my limits in every direction this year. I'm realizing I need to be strong and immovable enough to withstand the trials and temptations that come my way, while still being flexible enough to learn and grow. After all, if you want different results, you have to be willing to do things differently. I hope and pray that with the Lord's help, I'll be up to the challenge.
What I really wanted to say though has to do with 'Consecration'. That's what I've been studying and pondering about this week as a way to kick off my year.
1. to make or declare sacred; set apart, or dedicate to the service of God
2. to devote or dedicate to some purpose.
I found it particularly thought-provoking to consider what my real purpose is behind this year of consecration to the Lord, as well as how my extra service and study will help me more fully achieve my purpose on earth. The concept of 'The Sacred' is usually thought of as something demanded by God as an expression of our devotion to Him, but I think that like all of God's commandments, it is really a way that He tries to help us recognize our own devotion to Him--something which He's known all along.
Like with Abraham and Isaac, as a random example. At the end of the day, the Lord KNEW Abraham, and He knew that Abraham would obey in faith. But perhaps Abraham DIDN'T KNOW that he would obey no matter what, so the Lord provided (yes of course a test of his faith, but also) an opportunity for Abraham to learn a bit about just how much faith Abraham could have. I hope that makes sense.
Anyway, the point is that sacredness is kind of like Heavenly Father's way of helping us prioritize those things which are of most value to us both now and in eternity.
Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy spoke in the April 2012 General Conference about this very topic. It's an incredible explanation of so many things that I've learned, so I strongly encourage you all to read it here or re-watch it here:
Elder Pieper explains:
"Sacred means worthy of veneration and respect. By designating something as sacred, the Lord signals that it is of higher value and priority than other things. Sacred things are to be treated with more care, given greater deference, and regarded with deeper reverence. Sacred ranks high in the hierarchy of heavenly values.
"That which is sacred to God becomes sacred to us only through the exercise of agency; each must choose to accept and hold sacred that which God has defined as sacred. He sends light and knowledge from heaven. He invites us to receive and treat it as sacred."He ends by expounding on the blessings and consequences of those who choose to hold the right things sacred. His description rings so true for me, on both accounts:
"The sacred cannot be selectively surrendered. Those who choose to abandon even one sacred thing will have their minds darkened (see D&C 84:54), and unless they repent, the light they have shall be taken from them (see D&C 1:33). Unanchored by the sacred, they will find themselves morally adrift on a secular sea. In contrast, those who hold sacred things sacred receive promises: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24)."I definitely need to be more mindful of what exactly I'm holding sacred, and if my thoughts and actions are accurately reflecting my feelings and testimony of those things which I know to be true. I think this will be a talk that I return to every now and then as a way to prompt some self-evaluation throughout this next year.