Monday, July 23, 2018

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on living in the holy present

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"One of the most cruel games anyone can play with self is the 'not yet' game—hoping to sin just a bit more before ceasing; to enjoy the praise of the world a little longer before turning away from the applause; to win just once more in the wearying sweepstakes of materialism; to be chaste, but not yet; to be good neighbors, but not now. One can play upon the harpstrings of hesitations and reservations just so long, and then one faces that special moment—a moment when what has been sensed, mutely, suddenly finds voice and cries out with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.' (Mark 9:24.)
"The truth is that 'not yet' usually means 'never.' Trying to run away from the responsibility to decide about Christ is childish. Pilate sought to refuse responsibility for deciding about Christ, but Pilate’s hands were never dirtier than just after he had washed them.
"The past of each of us is now inflexible. We need to concentrate on what has been called 'the holy present,' for now is sacred; we never really live in the future. The holy gift of life always takes the form of now.
"Besides, God asks us now to give up only those things which, if clung to, will destroy us!"
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Why Not Now?", General Conference October 1974
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

As I pondered Elder Maxwell's description of "the 'not yet' game," I realized how accurate his description is. I have seen that tendency in my own life, clinging to some things just a little longer than I should, postponing resolving a question or concern. What a great warning and reminder; we just not assume there is a future to resolve the issue, since that future may be denied us. And the longer we postpone, the harder it is to resolve—since "The truth is that 'not yet' usually means 'never.'"

We life in "the holy present" and we should do all we can to make sure not only that we preserve the holiness, but that we take full advantage of it.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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