I've pondered recently on something I can relate to about our beloved Savior Jesus Christ. He was a carpenter. All through high school I worked at a furniture and cabinetry shop and learned a ton. I also competed in competitions for cabinetry and it taught me principles and a new perspective on the Savior's grace.
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So these competitions I did consisted of the photos below. At the beginning of the competition they'd give us this pile of material. Just enough to complete the designated project. Then they'd call everyone over and they'd have a finished product made and painted and allow us to look around it. To study it so we had a vision of what we were to do with our own material.
We'd then get a big sheet of plans on how to create this project. They were like reading a different language! They'd begin the competition and you'd have about 6 hours to complete this project as best you can. I'd sit back that first time I competed and think how nuts it was to somehow decipher these plans. Well first I'd begin tackling the plans, understanding what it was that they wanted me to cut to what size and such. After I'd get an idea of what to do, I'd begin. Cutting and routing, gluing and nailing. As I went I thought I was doing pretty good, my spirits rose. But then as I went, I had realized I made a wrong cut.
My heart sank, the vision of my cabinet looking like the one at the beginning crumbled. But it wasn't too bad, I thought 2nd or 3rd was still well within reach. Well I continued to work hard. Within in another hour, another mistake. Then another, and another. Miss nail here, wrong cut there, things began failing. I continued on just to be able to say I finished. But at the end of it all, I didn't even get to that. I looked around and many did finish. How bad I felt to have done so terribly, I wanted to try again but that was it. I would just have to wait for next year. With frustration and anxiety I watched the winner be awarded the grand prize. I wanted to be there.
I reflected on these competitions this week, and thinking of how they are much like our life. We get here, placed before us is an array of tools, materials, and plans. We are told to make a perfect product and we can come back home. So we begin. We feel around the tools, look at our material, wondering what on earth it is we are suppose to build. Many begin making whatever they can. But there are many who heed the voice of e prophets of God, calling to look unto the perfect example, to study and learn from Him. The Savior Jesus Christ. Exemplar of perfection, of how our lives should be built. Of what we are to create for ourselves to be able to return home, to gain the grand prize of life eternal with our families and our Eternal Father. Those who follow this course begin, a vision in mind of their own raw material being something great some day.
With sweat on our brow we labor. We feel like we are doing pretty good. Oh but soon we see, we made a mistake.....our plan ahead alters a bit. Man okay well maybe it isn't so bad. We can still be pretty good right? That can still count for something? We continue on, another mistake, one after another. Well dang maybe we can finish at least? Come time we feel haven't. We look how others are doing, excelling, looking so flawless. How could we ever be that? Can we even make it back? That perfection required was long gone with the first mistake, where's the retry?
What is the difference here? The difference is, the competition is over. The Savior already did it. The outcome is decided. You've won, the grand prize is in your grasp, its for you to claim! So why must we too build our own? Hasn't Christ already made the perfect one for me? Of course He has, His grace holds claim upon you. What we must build is not to put forth as a decider. No the Savior asks us to do so that we may learn from each cut, each mistake, to learn to create the perfect cabinet. There is no limit of materials from Christ, we can retry, through Him we always can try again. No matter how many mistakes, there is no limit to His supply. It is infinite, His Atonement is infinite. We make our own, in the words of Brad Wilcox, not to "earn heaven. But to LEARN heaven." By grace we are saved, and through it we may be changed. We can learn what this competition has to offer without fear of throwing it all down the drain at each mistake. We can progress and learn the skills with every chance to try and try again. All we must do is try, go to our Savior when we mess up, show him what we have done, and he lovingly supplies a new piece to give it another go.
This is called repentance. Stop hanging on to broken and imperfect pieces. Stop hanging on to heart ache and sorrow. To shame and guilt. Stop looking at others and comparing yours to theirs, the competitions already been decided enough of that already. You're here for the knowledge and experience and you can rejoice in others progress just as they can yours. Stop trying to cover it up, trying to fill it with glue and sawdust desperately trying to hide the inevitable. Just go ask for a new piece!! Try again, if you mess up....repent and give it another go! The Savior's Atonement is there, it has no limit. So stop hanging on to broken mistakes. Just get a new piece and try again. Learn the joy that can be found in progression and improvement. The plan of salvation has been restored in full, we have all the means to claim our prize. So repent and learn the value in what the Savior has won for you.
Of Him I testify in His Holy Name, even Jesus Christ, Amen.