Last night, in the dark night of the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was heavy in mind and soul, even unto death. He went a little ways off from his disciples and fell to his knees. He began his heartfelt prayer, the prayer, his contemplation, his meditation to commune with the Father within him. He uttered:
O, Abba, my Father, all things are possible unto thee, take away this cup from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
He sacrificed himself, gave himself as an offering, not in body, but in spirit, in soul and mind. He allowed his ego, his simulated constructed self in his mind, to suffer, bleed at every pore, and die, so that he might atone, at-one, become one with God. And it died. His ego mind died, completely and entirely. He gave it up. He surrendered it. He trusted. He let go. And angels appeared.
We too must become like Christ, take upon us his name and be like him. We must give up and put off the natural man, the egoic self that exists in our minds, that constructs everything we know about ourselves, our lives, and the world. We must surrender it. Let it go. Detach our Selves from it. Allow it to die. This can be excruciatingly painful. The ego may bleed, and not want to drink the bitter cup. It will plead and beg to not drink it. But we must drink. Not our ego’s will, but Thine be done. Only then will we see with our own eyes, and know with our own minds, the divine, and become at-one with God. We must atone.
But have we not repented? Jesus already suffered? Why must I (our ego)? Because the only way to repent, to turn back to God, is to become reconciled again to God, to become at-one. Jesus showed us the way home. The more we are attached to our ego selves, with all its cravings, desires, aversions, and hates, the more the ego will suffer, and not want to drink the bitter cup. It will refuse to die, and hell will gape wide its jaws after us, and we will shrink. But if we turn back to God, if we repent fully, if we trust and let go, surrender completely, and become at-one again with God, the suffering “ends.” In our mind we then know suffering, and it has no more power over us. Where is its sting? We know it, and we let it pass through us, cleansing us, purifying us, sanctifying us, as if by fire, drawing us ever closer and at-one with our Godliness.
Have we made an offering of our souls to God, our ego-centric simulated constructed selves in our minds? Have we offered up that self on the altar, to watch it die and then be born again? Have we allowed the ego self’s will to be swallowed up in the will of the Father that dwells within us? Have we consecrated that little self for our larger Self and God within? Has that self surrendered to our God Self? Have we lost that life, in order to save it? Have we saved our life? Does consecration make this self fear? Have we lost this old self, the carnal natural egoic man, to gain a new Self, become a Saint, our True Identity in God? When will we submit this self and its will? When will we be swallowed up? When will we gain the total victory?!
Elder Neal A. Maxwell understood. He knew what we must do.
“So many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God, we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is not giving up self, but selfish things—like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24, [“whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it”]). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but of finding his true identity! Ironically, so many people already lose themselves anyway in their consuming hobbies and preoccupations but with far, far lesser things…
“…the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give! Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!”
(Neal A. Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father”, General Conference, October 1995)
On this Good Friday, let’s meditate on the sacrifice and death of our own “natural man” inside of us, inside our minds, in similitude of Jesus Christ.