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『どんな甘いものよりも甘(い)』2(アルマ32:42)シェリーL.デューSweet Above All That Is Sweet, Sheri L. Dew BYU Women’s Conference, May 1, 2014 『どんな甘いものよりも甘(い)』1 (Pictures from David Ikegami)

救い主の力にアクセスするために何をしなければならないでしょうか?

最近、ハーバード大学を訪れました。キャンパスを横切っただけで賢くなった気持ちになりました。その日の午後、私はボストン神殿に入りました。この世の最も優れた大学の一つと最も崇高な学びの場である主の宮との違いに驚嘆します。ダリン・H・オークス長老はこのように語っています。『世の中の教育機関では、私たちに何かを知ることを教えてくれ、イエス・キリストの福音は何かになることをチャレンジされます。』神聖な力へのアクセスは私たちが何になるかにかかっています

            私たちができることを全て行うということは、将来の方向性と将来どのような人になるかを示すものです。私たちができることを全て行うということは弟子になるという意味にほかなりません。

            弟子になるための基本は、聖餐を取るたびに約束することを実行することです。すなわち、主を『いつも覚える』ということです。(モロナイ4:3; 5:2)これは、私たちの霊をどのようなメディアに露出させるかを選ぶときに主を覚えておくという意味です。また、どのように時間を使うか、ポップカルチャーと神の言葉との間でいつどのような選択をするか、そのときに主を覚えておくという意味です。軋轢のさなか、誘惑が忍び寄るときに主を覚えておくという意味です。主の教会が批評されたり真理をあざけられたときに主を覚えておくという意味です。私たちが主の御名を受けるときに主を覚えておくという意味です(モーサヤ5:7参照)。

            誰もこのことを習得した人はいませんが、継続して努力すべきことです。なぜなら、主への回心は、主の福音へどっぷりとつかる必要があるからです。もし、私たちが、朽ちる世の中に常にひたっていれば、この世で本当にどの程度成長できると期待できるでしょうか?なにも私は、楽しみや周りに何も高揚させてくれる機会がないなどと提唱しているわけではありません。私は、球技や四輪駆動、かんじき、ブロードウェイでの観劇が大好きです。ただし、死すべきこの世ははかない人生です。誰も長く地上に留まりません。よって、亡くなるときに持っていけることにできるだけ熱心にエネルギーを注力することは意味がありませんか?

            弟子になることはたやすいことではありませんが、弟子にならないよりもたやすいことです。ハワード・W・ハンター大管長の言葉を言い換えてみると、もし私たちの生活をキリストを中心にすえるならば、永遠に間違った方向に向かうことはありません。しかし、もしそうでなければ、何一つとして永遠に正しい方向に向かいません。

            弟子として、私たちはより大きな力、より多くの示現、より強い忍耐、より強固な鍛錬、より明るい希望、より大きな愛、より多くの癒し、さらなる幸せを願い求めることができます。私たちは、奇跡、苦痛からの解放、許したいという思いを願うことができます。より強い信仰とより優れた弟子になれるように助けを求めることができます。そして、私たちとともに天使に歩んでもらえるように願うことができます。

            以前、教会幹部のシニアメンバーに向かって難しい内容のプレゼンテーションをするアサイメントを受けました。そのような機会はいつも神経を使います。できうる限りの準備をして、主の助けを請いました。その集会に天使に伴って欲しいと頼んだくらいです。その日のできごとは期待していた以上にうまくいったので、少々拍子抜けしました。事務所に戻り、『集会はうまくいったわ』と思ったとたん『集会でうまくいったのはあなたのせいではないことが分かってる?』と強く感じました。すぐに、私は主が確かに助けを与えてくださったことが分かりました。

            かつて頼まれたことに比類する能力を持っていたと考えることはできませんが、そこには、恵みと御業との見事な交わりがあります。どのようなときにでも、弟子が全力を尽くすときに、主はそれを大いなるものとして下さいます。

            私たちにできることを全て行うことは主イエス・キリストの真の弟子になり、またそのように振る舞うということに他なりません。それが、私たちに課されていることです。

            救い主を皆さんの人生のより中心にすえるために、今日から始めることの中で、一つ皆さんが喜んで捨てることは何でしょう?主の力をもっと解き放つために、今日から始めることの中で、一つ皆さんが喜んで実行できることは何でしょう?福音のこの偉大な時満ちたる神権時代において私たちが生きている瞬間、救い主の恵みは、主が私たちに期待しておられることを行える力です。

            主は御業を早めておられます。そして、私たちはその渦中にいます(D&C88:73)。最近ヒューストンにおける扶助協会の集会で、開会のお祈りをしてくれた姉妹のお祈りが気にいっています。『私たちは、イエス・キリストの再臨に向けて世の中を備えている時代に生きることができて感謝します。』

            考えてみてください!過去の神権時代にあった人々の注目と期待が私たちに向けられているのです。私たちは救い主のためにこの世を備えるために選ばれました。今日というこの日は他の日とは異なります。今は、かつて行ったことのないことを行う日です。それには、救い主の力を解くためにこれまで以上に懸命に働くということも含まれます。なぜならば、誓約を交わした姉妹と兄弟の力の鍵を解く鍵は、誓約を交わした姉妹と兄弟がイエス・キリストの力を解く方法を学ぶことにあるからです

            私は、主の力が明確な形として表れることを知っています。30歳代前半、結婚する機会が一夜にして消え失せ、一気に悲観が落胆に変わりました。ある日、友人から電話をもらい、モーサヤ書の一節がその時の私にぴったり当てはまると言われ、電話越しに聖句を読まれました。『またわたしは、あなたがたの肩に負わされる荷を軽くし、あなたがたのその背にその荷が感じられないほどにしよう。わたしがこのようにするのは、あなたがたがこの後、わたしのために証人になれるようにするため、また主なる神であるわたしが、苦難の中にいる自分の民を訪れるということを、あなたがたが確かに知ることができるようにするためである』(モーサヤ24:14

            残念ながら、私はもっと落ち込んで電話を切りました。今考えるとおろかなことだと思いますが、私は自分の重荷を軽くしていただけるように主を求めていませんでした。私は、単に、夫を送って欲しいと主に嘆願していたのです。私は、もう一日たりとも独身でいることに耐えきれませんでした。祈り、断食し、十分神殿に行けば、主を説得して私の義しい願いが聞きとげられると確信していました。私は、主の証人になるとは考えていませんでした。私は、自分のことしか思いが及ばなかったのです。そのようなときにかぎり、私たちは自分たちの重荷を1人で背負おうとします。

            その後、長い年月を経て、祈り、断食し、神殿に行くものの、独身でみじめな気持に変わりはしませんでした。しかし、ある日、ルカ伝の中で救い主が心が打ち砕かれた人のもとに来て癒される箇所に気づきました(ルカ4:18)。打ち砕かれた心という言葉が目に飛び込んできました。なぜならば、私の心は打ち砕かれていたからです。数日間、その聖句について思いをはせていた頃、贖いの力についてブルース・C・フェイフェン長老(BA’66)が書かれた原稿についてミーティングをしていました。私は、その原稿を自宅に持って帰り、一言一句むさぼり読みました。かつて気づかなかった聖句や神聖な約束に目が開かれました。主はすでに私たちの苦痛を身に負い私を助けてくださっているということです(アルマ7:11-12;ヤコブ2:8)そのとき、私は救い主についてよく知らなかったことに気づきました。皆さんが知らない人の弟子になることは不可能ということです。

        あれから30年間。ある部分において、私の人生に大きな変化はありません。しかし、別の観点からみると、全てが変わりました。あの痛ましい出来事が転換点となりました。なぜならば、贖いと贖いからあふれる力を理解しようと心に決めたからです。もし、私が救い主の力にアクセスする方法を学ばなかったならば、とっくの昔に人生のできごとに押しつぶされていたことでしょう。主は私を背負い、何度となく私の心を癒してくださいました。

            今日、私は主が苦難の中を訪れることを証します。神権の力は本物です。天使もしかりです。天使はほんの薄いとばりを通して務めを果たしています。救い主は、癒し、人が何でもできる力で満ちていて、私たちが弱さを感じるときに私たちの重荷を軽くし私たちを強めてくださいます。主の愛に終わりがないため、弟子になる道は実はたやすい道です。だから、木の実がどんな甘いものよりも甘いのです。

            イエス・キリストは再臨されます。全ての膝がかがみ、全ての舌がキリストと認めます。私はこれらのことが真実であると知っています。私たちが望む弟子になるために主の力を解く決意ができるようにお祈します。

How Does the Savior Make His Power Available to Us?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that “if it were not for the grace of God, there would be nothing—no creation, no fall, no mortal probation, no atonement, no redemption, no immortality, no eternal life. It is God’s grace that underlies all things [and] . . . that makes all things possible. Without it there would be nothing; with it there is everything.”3

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (BA ’65, MA ’66) added this clarity: “Much of the miraculous help we find in the gospel is just that—a miracle from heaven, the power of divine priesthood, the attendance of angels administering to us through a very thin veil. These are gifts from God, manifestations of His grace.”4

Every divine gift and every spiritual privilege that gives us access to the power of heaven comes from Christ or through Christ or because of Christ. We owe everything to Him and our Father in Heaven, including the privileges of receiving the gift and power of the Holy Ghost; of receiving personal revelation and gifts of the Spirit; of being endowed in the temple with knowledge and priesthood power; of learning the “mysteries of the kingdom” (D&C 84:19); of having the Lord on our right and on our left and his angels round about us (D&C 84:88); of receiving all the blessings of the Atonement; and of receiving eternal life, “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). We owe every divine gift and all access to divine power to the grace of Jesus Christ.

No wonder Eliza R. Snow said that Latter-day Saint women “have greater and higher privileges than any other females upon the face of the earth.”5 I stand with Eliza on this. The grace of Jesus Christ gives us access to the Holy Ghost, to angels, and to countless gifts of the Spirit, just to name a few.6

But there is one privilege LDS women likely overlook—the privilege of having access to priesthood power.7 Too many of us think we don’t have this privilege. But that is not true. Women who have been endowed in the temple have as much access to priesthood power for their own lives as do ordained men.

Four key points underscore this truth: First, priesthood keys are the manner through which the Lord authorizes the use of and distributes His power—for both women and men.

Second, there are distinctions between priesthood keys, priesthood authority, and priesthood power. Priesthood keys are required to authorize ordinances, priesthood authority is required to perform ordinances, and priesthood power is available to all who worthily receive ordinances and keep the associated covenants.

Third, both men and women who serve under the direction of priesthood keys serve with divine authority.8 Elder Dallin H. Oaks (BS ’54) has explained: “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? . . . Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.”9

And fourth, men and women have equal access to the Lord’s highest spiritual privileges. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the house of the Lord. Elder M. Russell Ballard declared that “when men and women go to the temple, they are both endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power. . . . Access to the power and the blessings of the priesthood is available to all of God’s children.”10

Though women are not ordained to an office in the priesthood, in the temple we are endowed with priesthood power and with knowledge of how to use that power.

Women have other privileges as well. We aren’t required to be ordained to enter the house of the Lord and officiate in priesthood ordinances there, though men are. Further, when women serve in any capacity under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys, we have full access to the power that flows through those keys, just as men do. Covenant women never lack for divine authority.

Further still, God’s highest ordinances are available only to a man and woman together. In this single doctrinal provision, God indicates His respect for the distinctive but vitally interconnected roles of both men and women.

And finally, women have claim to all blessings that emanate from the priesthood. Again, from Elder McConkie: “Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness . . . —in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord.”11

Most important, we live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, when no spiritual blessings are being withheld from the earth (see D&C 121:27–29). No women living anytime, anywhere have had greater access to divine power than we do. If we seek for a lifetime, we won’t plumb the depth of power and breadth of spiritual privileges the Lord has given us. Through His grace, He has made His highest spiritual privileges available to us. That is our doctrine. That is the truth.

What Must We Do to Gain Access to the Savior’s Power?

I recently visited Harvard and felt smarter just walking across campus. But later that day, I went to the Boston Temple, and the contrast between one of the world’s elite universities and the Lord’s house, which is the institution of highest learning, was striking. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said that “in contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.”12 Our access to divine power hinges upon who we are becoming.

I doubt we quote any scripture on grace more often than Nephi’s, that “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). Covenant LDS women have a tendency to zoom in on the “after all we can do” part of the grace-and-works equation, but this scripture is not about sequence, and it is not about feverishly working our way through an exhaustive list of good works. Jesus Christ is the only one to walk this earth and do all that could be done.

Doing all we can do is about the direction we’re headed and what kind of people we are becoming. Doing all we can do is all about discipleship.

At the heart of becoming disciples is doing what we promise to do every time we partake of the sacrament—which is to “always remember” the Lord (Moro. 4:3; 5:2). This means remembering Him when we choose what media we’re willing to expose our spirits to. It means remembering Him in how we spend our time and when choosing between a steady diet of pop culture and the word of God. It means remembering Him in the middle of conflict or when temptation looms. It means remembering Him when critics attack His Church and mock truth. It means remembering that we have taken His name upon us (see Mosiah 5:7).

None of us has mastered this, but it is our quest, because conversion to the Lord requires immersion in His gospel. If we constantly immerse ourselves in a fallen world, how far can we really expect to progress in this life? I am not suggesting that there aren’t fun and even inspiring opportunities all around us. I love ball games and four-wheelers and snow-shoeing and Broadway plays with the best of them. But mortality is a short-term proposition. None of us will stay here long. Doesn’t it make sense to devote as much energy as possible to things we can actually take with us?

Discipleship is not easy, but it is easier than not becoming a disciple. Paraphrasing President Howard W. Hunter, if our lives are centered on Christ, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. But if they’re not centered on Christ, nothing can ever go permanently right.13

As disciples we can ask for more energy, more revelation, more patience, more self-discipline, more hope, more love, more healing, more happiness. We can ask for miracles, for freedom from pain, and for the desire to forgive. We can ask for more faith and for help in becoming better disciples. And we can ask for angels to walk with us.

Not long ago I was assigned to make a sensitive presentation to a group of senior General Authorities—which is always a little nerve-racking. I prepared the best I could and sought the Lord’s help—even asking if angels could accompany me to the meeting. Things went better that day than I had expected—which should have tipped me off. As I walked back to my office thinking, “That went pretty well,” I had an immediate impression: “You don’t think you’re the one who did that, do you?” I realized instantly that the Lord had indeed sent help.

I can’t think of a single thing I’ve ever been asked to do that I’ve been equal to. But therein lies the beautiful intersection of grace and works. When disciples do their best, whatever that is at a given moment, the Lord magnifies them.

Doing all we can do is about becoming and behaving like true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.That is our part.

What one thing would you be willing to give up, starting today, to put the Savior even more at the center of your life? What one thing would you be willing to do, starting today, to unlock more of His power? The Savior’s grace is what will enable us to do what He is counting on us to do in the twilight of this great, culminating gospel dispensation.

The Lord is hastening His work, and we are right in the middle of the hastening (see D&C 88:73). I loved it when a sister opened a recent Relief Society meeting in Houston by praying, “We are grateful to live in this day, when we are preparing the world for the return of Jesus Christ.”

Think of it! The eyes and hopes of every previous dispensation are upon us. We have been chosen to help prepare the world for the Savior. Because this day is unlike any other, it is timefor us to do things we have never done before. And that includes working harder than we’ve ever worked to unlock the Savior’s power. Because the key to unlocking the power of covenant women and men is covenant women and men learning to unlock the power of Jesus Christ.

I know how tangible the Lord’s power is. I was in my early 30s when an opportunity to marry evaporated overnight and the heartache plunged me into depression. One day a friend called to say she’d had an impression that a verse in Mosiah was just for me, and then she read the verse over the phone: “I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, . . . and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14).

I’m sorry to say that I hung up feeling even more discouraged. As foolish as it sounds now, I wasn’t looking for the Lord to ease my burdens, I just wanted Him to send me my husband! I could not face being single one more day. I was sure that if I prayed and fasted and went to the temple enough, I could convince Him to bless me with this righteous desire. I wasn’t thinking about standing as a witness. I was far too preoccupied with myself—which is what happens when we try to lift our burdens alone.

Weeks stretched into a year, and with all of my praying and fasting and temple-going, I was still single and miserable. But then one day I noticed a verse in Luke where the Savior declares that He has come to heal the brokenhearted (see Luke 4:18). The word brokenhearted jumped out at me, because my heart was broken. I was still pondering that verse a few days later, when I found myself meeting with Elder Bruce C. Hafen (BA ’66) about a manuscript he’d written on the enabling power of the Atonement. I took that manuscript home and devoured every word. It opened my eyes to scriptures and divine promises I had never seen before: that the Lord would heal our wounded souls, that He had already taken our pains upon Him, and that He would succor us (see Alma 7: 11–12; Jacob 2:8). I realized that I didn’t know very much about the Savior, and it simply isn’t possible to be a disciple of someone you don’t know.

Fast-forward 30 years. In some respects, my life hasn’t changed much. But in other ways, everything is different. That painful episode was a vital turning point, because it launched me on a continuing quest to understand the Atonement and the power that flows from it. Life would have crushed me long ago if I hadn’t learned how to access the Savior’s power. He has carried me and healed my heart again and again.

Today I do stand as a witness that the Lord visits His people in their afflictions. Priesthood power is real. Angels are real, and they really do minister through a very thin veil. The Savior really is filled with healing, enabling power, and He can ease our burdens and strengthen us when we feel weaker than weak. The path of discipleship is actually the easiest path because the Lord’s love for us has no end—which is why the fruit of the tree is sweet above all that is sweet.

Jesus Christ is going to come again. Every knee is going to bow and every tongue confess that He is the Christ. I know these things are true. May we be determined to unlock His power to help us be the disciples we want to be.

This article is adapted from a BYU Women’s Conference address given May 1, 2014, by Sheri L. Dew, president and CEO of Deseret Book Company. The full text and video of the address are available at womensconference.byu.edu.

Notes

1. Bible Dictionary, s.v. “grace,” p. 697; emphasis added.

2. David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign, May 2014, pp. 89–90.

3. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), p. 149.

4. Jeffrey R. Holland, For Times of Trouble, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), p. 45; see also Ps. 18:36 and 94:18–29.

5. “Great Indignation Meeting,” Deseret Evening News, Jan. 15, 1870, p. 2.

6. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that spiritual gifts “are infinite in number and endless in their manifestations because God himself is infinite and endless” (New Witness, p. 270).

7. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that the “doctrine of the priesthood—unknown in the world and but little known even in the Church—cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone . . . . The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Doctrine of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1982, p. 32).

8. See Sheri L. Dew, Women and the Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), especially chapter 6.

9. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2014, p. 51.

10. M. Russell Ballard, “Let Us Think Straight,” BYU Campus Education Week devotional address, Aug. 20, 2013 (available at speeches.byu.edu); see also D&C 109:15, 22.

11. Bruce R. McConkie, “Our Sisters from the Beginning,” Ensign, January 1979, p. 61.

12. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, p. 32.

13. See Howard W. Hunter, “Fear Not, Little Flock,” BYU devotional address, March 14, 1989 (available at speeches.byu.edu).

Copyright 2011 by Brigham Young University.