Saturday, January 19, 2013

As a Child

Since this is my 100th blog post on The Good Report, I want it to be special.  As I have reviewed some of the topics that I have chosen to write about, it occurs to me that I have barely begun to scratch the surface of things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy.  The words of the hymn come to mind:

"1. If you could hie to Kolob In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward With that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever, Through all eternity,
Find out the generation Where Gods began to be?"

That is a good question. It is definitely a question worth pondering, one that the author of this poem, W.W. Phelps, certainly pondered.  It is also question that gives rise to other good questions.  But W.W. Phelps was inquiring, like a child, because he wanted to know the answer.  The poem continues: 

"2. Or see the grand beginning, Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation, Where Gods and matter end?
Me thinks the Spirit whispers, “No man has found ‘pure space,’
Nor seen the outside curtains, Where nothing has a place.”

3. The works of God continue, And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression Have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter; There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit; There is no end to race.

4. There is no end to virtue; There is no end to might;
There is no end to wisdom; There is no end to light.
There is no end to union; There is no end to youth;
There is no end to priesthood; There is no end to truth.

5. There is no end to glory; There is no end to love;
There is no end to being; There is no death above.
There is no end to glory; There is no end to love;
There is no end to being; There is no death above." (If You Could Hie to Kolob, Hymn 284, William W. Phelps)

Quite an answer indeed.  Moses was another who, like a child, inquired of God for real answers.  Speaking face to face with the Lord, Moses asked about God's creations:

"And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: aTell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?" (Moses 1:30)

Moses received answers directly from God, and he was bold enough to inquire further:

"And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and atell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content." (Moses 1:36)

Like Phelps, Moses inquired of the Lord and received answers.  Joseph Smith was another, who, like a child, was full of questions:

"10 In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be aright, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (JS-H 1:10)

Like Phelps and like Moses, Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord to discover truth.  His humble inquiry opened the way to the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

These three examples of asking questions remind me that the God also has questions for us, his children (see also D&C 50:40-41).  One author has penned a beautiful meditation on such questions in a book called The Lord's Question.  Among these is the poignant question that the Lord posed to Peter on the shores of the sea of Galilee, one that Elder Holland has recently paraphrased as: "Do you love me?"

Here is the heart of the matter.  Jesus asked Peter this very question not once, not twice, but three times.  This great disciple of Christ was able to answer in the affirmative, not just then, but throughout the rest of his life, with deeper loyalty, and with devotion more dear than his own life.  Certainly, his life was a resounding "yes" to the Lord's question, "Do you love me?"

The examples of Phelps, Moses, Joseph Smith and the Lord as model inquirers lead me to my conclusion.  In my personal library there is perhaps no other book that is closer to my heart than Antoine de St. Exupéry's Le Petit Prince.  Le Petit Prince has been translated into many languages and it has also been adapted to film.  In the dedication of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), Antoine de St. Exupéry reminds the reader that "toutes les grandes personnes ont d'abord été des enfants" ("all grown-ups were at first children").  He then writes of an encounter with an extraordinary and extraordinarily inquisitive little boy in the middle of the Sahara Desert.  This Little Prince, as he is called, never gives up on a question once he asks it, and he asks questions because he sincerely wants to understand the answers.

Perhaps this is one reason why the Lord commands everyone to repent and to become as a little child.