I remember hearing a story once of a famous movie actor. After achieving some fame, he became entangled with all sorts of problems including illegal drugs. His life tailspinned into darkness and despair. One day while standing next to the ocean, he realized he could continue on this destructive path and die or he could turn his life around. He was at a crossroads and time demanded a decision. He threw the drugs into the sea and walked away. He chose to change.
Many of us probably remember the scene from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where they are trying to determine which is the cup of immortality. After one of the characters chooses wrongly and evaporates into dust, the guarding knight states the obvious, “He chose…….poorly.”
Alma tells us that “this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24). More succinctly put: this life is a day of decision. Every day we are faced with choices. Many do not have lasting significance—like what to have for breakfast (unless the choice is between oatmeal or chocolate cake!), but every day you will choose between right and wrong, good and bad, light and dark. These options are before each of us, every moment, every day, forever. And it’s not easy.
I was sitting in the adult session of Stake Conference when the Stake President quoted a compilation of scriptures that say “men [love] darkness rather than light” (John 3:19) “having eyes full of adultery” (2 Peter 2:14). I came home after the meeting that night and could not stop thinking about our bodies and how we can use them for good or ill. Think of your hands. With your hands you can beat and slap or you can lift and love. Think of your eyes. With your eyes you can look at lustful images or you can read the word of God. Think of your feet. With your feet you can walk into places of sin or you can walk into the temple. Think of your tongue. With your tongue you can belittle and criticize or you can compliment and bless. Think of your mind. With you mind you can doubt and fear or you can believe and trust. And what we choose will show if we are lovers of “darkness rather than light.”
I also had a powerful realization that night about the love of God. We live in a fallen world, but God has not left us comfortless. I remembered how in the sacred buildings different parts of our bodies are blessed for righteousness. With these thoughts in mind, I jotted down the first two sections of this poem. I wanted it to feel kind of staccato and raw to showcase the contrasts. The next morning I thought that more than just showing the contrasts, I wanted to put a feeling of action into it. Like Joshua of old said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). We need to decide where we stand, so I wrote the final section before and after the Sunday session of Stake Conference.
My hope is that each of us, no matter where we are today, will throw our carnal natures into the sea and walk away. Those that do so will one day hear the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. . .enter thou into the joy of the lord” (Matt 25:21). And those who still choose “darkness rather than light”, will one day feel the full anguish of the words “you chose……..poorly.”
The choice, as it always has been, is ours.
Written: December 11, 2016