Some lessons immediately bring in the Holy Spirit, fly off my tongue like water off a feather, and have the girls popping out answers left and right.
This was not one of those lessons. This is not to say the message presented nor the principles being taught were not of the utmost importance. It is only to say they are not the easiest to present, teach, and gain a testimony of.
Consecration and sacrifice. We know the term sacrifice well, though the true meaning behind it is sometimes lost. To sacrifice means to give up something we consider deeply important. It can be done with the hope of receiving something better, or it can be done for the mere sake of following the principle.
Consecration is a little harder to pin down. The definition is straightforward enough: to make sacred; to devote or dedicate. Our job is to tie consecration into sacrifice.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
"Sacrifice and consecration are inseparably intertwined. The law of
consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and our
property to the cause of the Church; such are to be available to the extent they
are needed to further the Lord's interests on earth.
"The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all tha twe have
for the truth's sake - our characterand reputation; our honor and applause; our
good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very
lives if need be" (Bruce R. McConkie, "Obedience,
Consecration, and Sacrifice," Ensign, May 1975).
Let's start with sacrifice. This law was instituted from the time of Adam (Moses 5:6-8). Adam was directed to make an animal sacrifice upon an altar, though at first he was not told why. It was asked of him at first to help him show obedience. It was the angel in the referenced verses that told Adam it was to be done in similitude of the sacrifice of the Savior.
It was only after Adam showed the necessary obedience that the reason behind the sacrifice was given. How many times are we asked to sacrifice something we dearly long to keep, sometimes without knowing the reasons behind it all? At times these sacrifices are easily given, in particular to those we love. Other times these sacrifices are grudgingly passed along.
There is another step we must take in order for the sacrifice to be, not just complete, but worthy.
"Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and
thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore" (Moses
When we acknowledge that the things of this world as well as all our talents are only given to us to be stewards over, to be given here and there as the Lord sees fit, to give all we can and do so in the name of the Lord will our sacrifices be considered worthy in His eyes.
This is not an easy thing to do. Let's repeat it: this is not an easy thing to do. Yet it is a principle that cannot be fully learned without first putting it into practice. Like faith, like tithing, like the Word of Wisdom, we cannot gain a testimony about sacrifice and consecration without experimenting upon it, putting it to the test.
Before I end, I want to change direction for a moment and discuss some things we need to sacrifice that can't necessarily be seen. In order to illustrate this point I want to talk for a moment about my parents.
When I was about 15 my dad was diagnosed with cancer, lymphoma. I truly know it is only by the grace of God alone that he is still with us today, as this is one of the deadliest and fastest growing forms. During the months and months of chemo and radiation therapy I watched him suffer silently. His health was, obviously, horrible. He had severe bouts of nausea and insomnia. Most of what he suffered I may never know, but he never uttered a complaining word in front of his children. Perhaps in the quiet hours, when he was desperately ill, he questioned why. It does not really matter to me now.
During this time I also watched my mother. She took on the load of parent, breadwinner, caretaker, housekeeper, and numerous other heavy loads. I had always known my mother to be a strong woman, but her vigilance during this time left a lasting impression on my heart.
My mother sacrificed a lot: her own health, her time, her energy, her talents, her very being to take care of my father and us kids. She and my father also sacrificed something a little more difficult to see: bitterness, self-pity, anger, and countless other dabilitating and consuming emotions that could have brought them far away from the Spirit of the Lord.
We are no longer asked to sacrifice the firstborn of our flocks upon an altar in similitude of the Savior. Instead we are asked to sacrifice that which the Lord Himself did: a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:19-20). We must be willing to submit ourselves to everything our Father asks of us, even if we don't understand why. The Savior was able to live this celestial law, and we must be willing to do the same if we hope to attain the celestial kingdom.