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A willingness to keep coming back for more

We tend to get hung up on how hard God's personal requests to us are. That's sort of funny, considering the difficulty of his request is equivalent to its value, because that is the measure of the distance from us to him that it covers.

Anyway, it is important to think about how pleasing it is to the Lord that we come back for more. In fact, whether we come back for more is much more important than our reaction to the previous interaction.

God's voice is the voice of improvement. To the extent that a person is like God, contact with them will yield invitations of improvement--even when that person says nothing. As with God (but obviously on a lesser scale) their very presence will increase the intensity of the light of Christ within us, and cause an increase in the volume and content of God's voice inside of and to us through our conscience. This is why wicked people react so intensely to the righteous. They get really good turning the volume of God's voice inside of them through delusion, but the volume cranks up again one way or another when they are exposed to people more like God than them. Most of the time, they will do anything to shut it off!

When Jesus interacted with those who eventually crucified him, he said he could tell that they didn't have the love of God within them by how they reacted to his words, acts, and presence (see John chapter 5).

When we experience someone who is closer to God than we are, we can react in a variety of ways. It's almost never how we all imagine, and how it is diagramed in the too-often too-cheesy artwork depicting the Savior hugging people. People don't hug those who are better than they are. They nail them to crosses.

"The few who knew what might be learned,
Foolish enough to put their whole heart on show,
And reveal their feelings to the crowd below,
Mankind has always crucified and burned."
(Goethe, "Faust")

The most common way we end these interactions is to break them off as quickly as possible, by any means necessary. 

Sometimes, the contact endures for a bit of time before it is aborted.

Rarely, it keeps going. Interactions with God or his servants can be like repeated punches to the face.

Maybe that's why I like the Rocky movies so much: the main character is not the best fighter, but he is the one with the most heart, who wins because he keeps getting up again when others wouldn't. As he says in one movie: "it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done."

Rocky is a fictional character, but Abraham's grandson Jacob is not. Jacob was a fighter. That's why God renamed him Israel, which means one who contends persistently like God.

When the Lord appeared to Jacob, it didn't happen the way you will imagine through reading the Biblical account. Here is what the Lord showed me, as I wrote in "The Glory of God is Intelligence":

"Instead of appearing in a dream, where the physically impure body is protected from the glory of the Lord, Jacob physically saw the Lord in glory. Initially, the Lord appeared in an impulse of light and fire some distance from Jacob. It was so intense that it knocked Jacob to the ground with such force that it popped his leg bone out of his hip socket. As a witness to the force that hit him, this injury is most often seen today in intense car accidents.

"The Lord dwells in everlasting burnings, and this self-contained, non-extinguishing ball of fire was at once violent, loud, peaceful and beautiful. The overwhelming nature of the light at first pinned Jacob on his face. The light from glory is not like the light we see in the telestial kingdom. It is not just a visual phenomenon. Even with the brightest telestial light, the only physical effect is warmth on the skin. Light from glory pierces your body thoroughly. It is an utterly intense experience that permeates your being. In extreme pain from both his hip and the reaction of his flesh to the glory of God, he struggled to breathe as he attempted to shield his face from the light. The scene went on for what seemed like an eternity: Jacob struggling to hold on, and the Lord patiently waiting in silence. As the light penetrated his shielding arm and his closed eyelids, the glory began to purify Jacob's flesh. The pain started to gradually ease as the glory of God burned out his impurities. As he persisted in God’s glory, he became more and more sanctified and more and more comfortable in God’s presence. Eventually, he was able to remove his arm, then open his eyes. At first, the light was too bright to see clearly into. Then, his eyes adjusted enough that he could make out the shape of a man.

"Most men, knowing they were in the presence of God, would have long since recoiled and said, 'it is enough Lord.' Jacob was not like most men. Jacob was a man of great tenacity, physical strength, and courage. He mustered every ounce of strength left in his devastated frame, and he did the unthinkable. He inched his arms forward, and scraped his body forward along the rocky soil. He immediately collapsed from exhaustion. The Lord patiently waited. Recovering some fraction of strength, he repeated the process. His injured leg hung powerless by his side. He repeated the process again and again, each time using his last ounce of strength, then collapsing for some time, then pulling from some previously undiscovered reservoir of strength to inch forward again.

"Eventually, he came within arm’s length to the Lord. Still prostrate, exhausted beyond measure, he lurched up and grabbed the Lord's feet. Like a boxer at the end of the bout of his life, he clung tightly to the Lord, who permitted him to remain there for a great deal of time. Finally, the Lord spoke and announced that he must go. The Lord blessed Jacob for having wrestled with his glory all night and overcoming. Most men quit long before their prayer yields the presence of the Lord. Of those who don’t, very few indeed would endure God’s glory without pleading with the Lord to stop the experience. Jacob truly was exceptional, and yet he was not exceptional enough for the Lord to tell him his name, a special blessing reserved for a special few."

As you encounter more of God in any significant way, it will knock you down. That is not a surprise. What matters is how you react to it.

Peter gets undeservedly attacked for his supposed lack of faith by people who have never faced anything so difficult, and would perform far worse. I don't see Peter as an example of what not to do.  

How hard did Peter get punched seeing the Lord go through his trial and crucifixion? And how did he respond? When he saw him again, he jumped out of his ship naked and swam to shore. This man had been utterly eviscerated by the revelation of his cowardice in denying the Lord under pressure, ran back into his arms when he had the chance. He courageously faced many more trials, and gave his life for the Lord's name sake. After failing to walk on water, he tried again and again until he could do it.

Would to God there were more people like Peter!

No matter how hard you get punched in the face, keep getting up. 

No matter how long you've laid on the ground, get up again.

No matter how slow your crawl forward, keep crawling.

Learn that the punches are the very path to God. Ironically, as you do, they don't hurt anymore. You can actually get to the point where they cease hurting at all, and are completely positive experiences. Imagine that.

I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken. (2 Nephi 9:40)

Imagine loving correction so much that you rejoice in receiving it. You view it as the greatest gift that someone could give you--because it is.

Until you come to that point, you can't enjoy standing in the glory of God. Why? Because he will always be an unending source of suggestions for improvement for you, because he will always be more than you are, and he cannot hide how he is from those who know him intimately (that is the very definition of the word). 

There is no greater love than to dedicate your life to the benefit of those who will receive it (a better phrasing of John 15:13). And the only way the recipient can receive the value of that sacrifice is to perceive it as it is--as the greatest thing the giver could give to them--and to feel the greatest joy in having it.