Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chemistry and the Gospel- Just Some Thoughts

Today one of the Sacrament Meeting talks was about kindness. This reminded me of Charity, which the scriptures tells us is the "pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47). As I was listening, I thought of the scripture in D&C 121:45. It says, "Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall they confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven."

The word "distill" caught my attention while I was reading. I thought about how in chemistry (esp. organic chemistry) we did a lot of labs with distillation processes. In case you don't know, a distillation process is basically a process used to separate mixtures based on the different conditions that are necessary to change the phase of components of the mixture-- basically, you separate mixtures based on their boiling points (that is rather too simplified and not completely correct but lets roll with it for a minute).
I remember that when I did my first couple of distillation labs, I was surprised, and actually a little worried, about how slowly things were occurring. Sometimes the accumulation is imperceptible at first. It is only after quite a bit of droplets have formed and joined together that you can begin to see some progress. This is similar to the gospel. We are given things "line upon line, precept upon precept" (2 Nephi 28:30). Then, Holy Ghost will testify of the truthfulness of these things to us. However, because we gain our testimonies and this further knowledge so quietly and sometimes in these small amounts, it can be hard to recognize our growth until we have accumulated quite a lot. In this last April's General Conference Elder Bednar said, "Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time...Such communications from our Heavenly Father gradually and gently 'distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven'" ("The Spirit of Revelation", CR April 2011).
In a distillation process, you have to bring the solution to a certain temperature in order to cause the mixture to separate. I thought about how this is like the "refiner's fire." The Savior is constantly refining us to separate the bad stuff from what He knows and wants us to become. It is "putting off the natural man." It is "becoming a Saint" and developing the Christ-like qualities that are essential to eternal life.
Ok, back to distillation. When the the mixture of liquids is heated, it forces them into the gas phase (because they have different boiling points). The gas is then condensed back into it's liquid state and collected. Now, you STILL are not finished because you still have to purify your product. To this, you can go back and perform the distillation process AGAIN to remove the impurities (this is sometimes called double distillation but you don't really need to know that). This is kind of like our lives. We are not perfect after one trial. In actuality, we are never really perfect! We will never be perfect. That is what just a fact of mortality. However, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can perfect us and remove the impurities and the sins from our lives. The neatest thing about this is that there is NOTHING that is too big and too hard or too awful for Him to fix. His Atonement covered every imperfect part of our mortality. He knows our pains, sicknesses, sins... EVERYTHING! It is so amazing and incomprehensible to me. I am so eternally grateful for His Atonement.
Finally, the conclusion to our analogy. Distillation would not even be possible without the proper tools. You need flasks, clamps, condensers, tubes, thermometers, heat, etc. In our lives, a loving Heavenly Father has given us the proper tools to become purified and perfected.. We have been given the scriptures, prophets and other leaders, Patriarchal blessings, prayer, the Spirit and personal revelation among other things. Now that we have the tools, it is our job to use them in order to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ-- to become perfected.
I know that this is not really something new. I just was thinking about it today and it really hit me hard. The gap between the temporal and the spiritual is narrowing. I know that this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true. I just wanted to share some insights in hopes that it can, in one way or another, touch someone else's heart like it touched mine.

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