Saturday, October 1, 2011

Elder Callister's Book

This is a repost from our old family blog, January 2010. Given that Brother Callister was just sustained as a member of the Presidency of the 70, I thought some people might be interested to know more about his book:

Two verses from the Doctrine and Covenants usually get some good play teaching US teenagers about irony:

"59:13 - And on this [Sabbath] day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14 - Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer."

Fasting is joy and rejoicing? Going without food is not fun. What is this? A counselor in my stake presidency back at BYU (Litchfield) helpfully pointed out that one of the things God is saying is that fasting is like kissing: if you're doing it right, you'll enjoy it. God made them both to be enjoyed.

Today, I'm doing it right.
I prayed last night to know what I should be fasting about and felt a Spirit-ual nudge in one direction. I read my scriptures, which by odd coincidence were about fasting and the blessings that come to people who diligently and regularly fast, and then went back to trying to finish Elder Tad R. Callister's book The Infinite Atonement that I received 6 years ago for graduating from the church institute program.

In Chapter 23, he moves from a discussion of God's grace as a power that is both redemptive and exalting to a discussion of the gifts of the Spirit. I had well known one of his early points, made by Elder Orson Pratt, that the gifts are not primarily there to convert others, though they may assist in accomplishing that. When the scriptures then refer to the gifts being there for the perfecting of the saints, though, I had largely assumed that they were there to enable us to do specific things. Missionaries call on the gift of tongues to learn the language. We ask for the gift of healing so we can be healed. We ask for gifts of revelation to know how to do a part of our calling or to bless our child or something else. The gifts are there to do something.

What then-Bro. Callister emphasizes is that the things to do aren't the point. The point of the gifts is to change us, to enable us to become like God, to perfect us little by little. He cites Pres. George Q. Cannon, who tells us that the gifts of the Spirit will "eradicate" our imperfections. "He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts ... notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection." Callister speaks about an "orderly, persistent persuit," of a God who, "in his unbounded kindness anxiously seeks to shower these spiritual gifts upon us" but "we must ask. We must want the gifts so fervently that this pursuit is a constant, unending struggle."

And I realized that the answers to the things I have been struggling with at the end of last year are in the gifts of the Spirit. By prayerfully identifying and dedicatedly seeking for specific gifts that will eradicate weakness - not just vaguely praying to overcome - the way will be open. And, oh, how I rejoiced to feel the love of God for me and for each of us in that thought! Fasting is joy and rejoicing!

I got some great gifts for Christmas. I'm enjoying them. I think I'm going to make 2010 the Year of Gifts, earnestly coveting the best ones.