Friday, July 11, 2014

Crown of Thorns, Crown of Glory

The prophet Brigham Young taught  "All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. If we obtain the glory that Abraham obtained, we must do so by the same means that he did. If we are ever prepared to enjoy the society of Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or of their faithful children, and of the faithful Prophets and Apostles, we must pass through the same experience, and gain the knowledge, intelligence, and endowments that will prepare us to enter into the celestial kingdom of our Father and God. … Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation" (http://goo.gl/7Lt9en).


In other words, in order to gain the crown of glory, we must first be willing to wear a crown of thorns. And we are.

When first created, this earth was in a paradisiacal state. Fruit and things which were good to eat sprung forth spontaneously as weeds do in our world. There was no hard toil to keep them thriving, and there weren't anything that could harm Adam or Eve save it be the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When they partook of the fruit, the earth was cursed for our sake. (For in a world where sin is capable, it's a good thing we have to work, for it gives us less time to sin.)

When Adam fell, the Lord came to the Garden of Eden, "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;" (Genesis 3:17-18). 

Thus with thorns, the world came into being. We have been born into the world where thorns are a reality. There is no getting around it: some have thorns of poor health, some have thorns of lost loved ones, some have thorns of addictions, and others have thorns of depression. Some of our thorns are big and bulky and the entire world can see them, and others have thorns so fine, not even their closest friends know. But we all have them!

The trick is, what do we do with our thorns? Some people will put the thorns under their clothes, and act as though they have none before the world. Others will carry thorns in their hands to put in the faces of everyone, so they can have pity. Still more will wrap them around their arms to push others away. The best thing we could do is make them into a crown. 

We begin to make our thorny trials into crowns, as we let them draw us to He who bore the crown of thorns on Golgotha. We weave our sins into our crown as we repent of them. Each new thorny branch we get, we have a choice on what to do with it. No matter what we do with it, tho, it will hurt. 

There is a seldom sung hymn in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' 1985 Hymnbook: "O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown". From the title we get, it seems that it might be about His resurrection or His Second Coming, but that's not what it's talking about. Instead, it focuses on the crown of the Atonement.

O Savior, thou who wearest
A crown of piercing thorn,
The pain thou meekly bearest,
Weigh'd down by grief and scorn.
The soldiers mock and flail thee;
For drink they give thee gall;
Upon the cross they nail thee
To die, O King of all.

The crown of thorns is a necessary step in obtaining the crown of glory. The Savior won the ultimate crown of glory when He took upon His head, every single thorn that has been borne by you, by me, and by each person who has ever walked this earth. Indeed, "No creature is so lowly, No sinner so depraved, But feels thy presence holy And thru thy love is saved. Tho craven friends betray thee, They feel thy love's embrace; The very foes who slay thee Have access to thy grace." (http://goo.gl/VkLIKy).

We can only become what He is by doing the things that He did. If the Savior of the world could not make it to glory without having to wear a crown of thorns, why do we think we can do it? Oftentimes, without realizing it, when we complain about the thorns rather than make them into a crown, we presumptuously (and often unwittingly) place ourselves as better than the Savior, by demanding to know why we must live with these thorns.

When we get to the other side, I am confident that we will take a look at our thorns, and the thorns of others, and realize that we could have dealt with our thorns. We would see the absolute beauty that people were able to make of their thorns. If we looked closer, we'd begin to see the various types of thorns fit together to allow the person to make their crown, their life, a masterpiece, even with the sharpest thorns.

I'm sure in seeing all of that, we will wish we had made our crowns better. I'm sure we'll wish we had been more diligent, especially when we see that what are thorns in this life get burned off and refined to gold in the next life. We never really lose our crown of thorns, it just becomes a crown of glory.