For 46 years, Householder children have been determined to get to the presents without waking the parents.
But for the last two generations, the Dad has gone to great lengths to prevent it.
What do booby traps have to do with the true meaning of Christmas?
It’s a tradition too well established to throw away, so instead I’ve thought about what spiritual metaphor can be drawn from it. Turns out, I didn’t have to think very long:
Life is like these traps – nobody gets through it without making mistakes.
Nevertheless, we can be grateful that all of God’s blessings can still be ours (the presents are still under the tree waiting) if we keep moving, keep trying, and keep trusting in his grace.
Now for those who want to go deeper…
Success Principles and Religion
I’ve been studying success principles for 26 years and writing about them for 19 years. I’ve been impressed that they can make a person more effective at anything they do, whether it be sports, finances, relationships, health, or spirituality.
The principles are dependable and sure. They bring peace of mind. They increase our capacity for happiness. They turn disaster into good fortune, and heartache into healing. They are constant and reliable.
If success principles are this powerful and effective, what, then, is the purpose of religion? (Why, Leslie, do you still hold fast to yours?)
The short answer is because truth fits. If it’s really true, it will fit in with everything else that’s true.
Additional truth doesn’t replace the truth I’ve already found. On the contrary, it expands, magnifies, and amplifies everything I learned and believed before.
The reason I hold fast to my religion is because I believe the real power behind healing and true happiness is the atonement of Jesus Christ, and that the reason for being on this earth is to learn, grow, be tried, tested, taught and changed into someone who will be fit for his Kingdom in Heaven. With that as the overarching purpose, our daily struggles make more sense, and the more we learn, the more we discover that pain may be inevitable but suffering is optional.
As we learn and apply scripturally sound success principles (no matter where we learned them), we gain access to this power of healing and gift of peace. His blessings are predicated upon our obedience to the laws that govern his universe. We can learn obedience to law, practice it, and experience the rewards for it, even if we don’t understand exactly what it is or from where the rewards come.
For example, I don’t understand the electrical workings behind the wall of the light switch I flip, but I know that if I flip it, the light will turn on. I don’t know who manufactured the wires and connectors, or who placed them properly behind the sheetrock that make lighting my room possible, but I still use them effectively every day.
It’s the same with success principles. Believers and non-believers alike use them every day, and experience the power. But if you have an understanding of that which remains unseen, it’s easy to give the credit to God, because he is the creator and organizer behind the “wall”.
I hold fast to my religion because I cling to truth no matter where I find it. I add to it as quickly as I’m able to comprehend more. As Brigham Young, one of the early presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explained:
The gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth.
“All truth is for the salvation of the children of men—for the benefit and learning—for their furtherance in the principles of divine knowledge; and divine knowledge is any matter of fact—truth; and all truth pertains to divinity.
“Be willing to receive the truth, let it come from whom it may; no difference, not a particle…
“‘[Our church] …embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. … The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church… All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. … There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things…
“I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it.
“[The gospel] embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. It introduces a system of laws and ordinances.
“Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil; it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity, it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither.
“It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion…
“Our religion measures, weighs, and circumscribes all the wisdom in the world—all that God has ever revealed to man. God has revealed all the truth that is now in the possession of the world, whether it be scientific or religious. The whole world are under obligation to him for what they know and enjoy; they are indebted to him for it all, and I acknowledge him in all things…
“Truth will abide when error passes away. Life will remain when they who have rejected the words of eternal life are swallowed up in death. I like the truth because it is true, because it is lovely and delightful, because it is so glorious in its nature, and so worthy the admiration, faith and consideration of all intelligent beings in heaven or on the earth.
“I delight in this, because truth is calculated to sustain itself; it is based upon eternal facts and will endure, while all else will, sooner or later, perish.
“Every individual that lives according to the laws that the Lord has given to his people, and has received the blessings that he has in store for the faithful, should be able to know the things of God from the things which are not of God, the light from the darkness, that which comes from heaven and that which comes from somewhere else. This is the satisfaction and the consolation that the Latter-day Saints enjoy by living their religion; this is the knowledge which every one who thus lives possesses.
“How easy it is to live by the truth. Did you ever think of it, my friends? Did you ever think of it, my brethren and sisters? In every circumstance of life, no matter whether among the humble or lofty, truth is always the surest guide and the easiest to square our lives by.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 14–20)
This is why I have held fast to my religion, and also embraced the success principles, which I learned from other sources. They have contributed to my life, helping me solve many of my temporal problems and making this earthly sojourn a little more bearable. Even gloriously enjoyable.
As we look a little farther down the road, there is an even greater purpose for learning and understanding the principles:
A common phrase in my religion is, “All things testify of Christ.” One of the most powerful explanations I’ve found for what this means was given by Todd D. Parker in a speech called, “True Doctrine, Understood, Changes Attitude and Behavior.” He puts it this way:
“When we can grasp the ideas that Christ is the Master Teacher, the universe is His classroom, and the curriculum is the Atonement, we will never read the scriptures the same way again.
“I believe you can find types of Christ in events, travels, topography, seasons, people, names, and so forth. …Israel’s journey typifies our journey toward eternal life. Israel left Canaan, went to Egypt, and fell into bondage. They were led from bondage by Moses, were purified in the desert, and then returned to their home in Canaan. Likewise, we leave God’s presence, enter a fallen telestial world, are delivered from spiritual bondage by Jesus, pass through a purifying terrestrial millennium, and return to God’s celestial presence.
“Let’s look at Moses as a symbol or type of Christ… Moses was Israel’s physical deliverer. Jesus is our spiritual deliverer. Moses’s first plague to get Israel out of Egypt was turning water into blood. Jesus’s first miracle in His ministry was turning water into wine. Moses’s last plague was the death of the firstborn. Jesus’s last miracle was the resurrection of the Firstborn.
“…Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1–2 that Israel passing through the Red Sea was a symbol of a baptism by water and a baptism by fire. Israel was saved by water. That is why there had to be a wall of water on each side. …The fire held the Egyptians back. Hence Israel was also saved by fire. It is the same with each of us. We need to be saved through a baptism of water and a baptism of fire…
“When Israel went into the promised land, they went through the Jordan River. Why go through a river? You have to be ‘born again’ (see John 3:1–5). Who led them through the river? It was Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew name for the Greek word Jesus. It was ‘Jesus’ who caused them to be born again and led them through the Jordan River back home to the land of their fathers. …All things testify of Christ…
“The sun itself is a type of Christ. It comes from the east. Christ will also come from the east. The sun gives light and life to all things. Its heat can also consume all things. …The Light of Christ gives ‘life to all things’ (D&C 88:13). Christ’s glory will also consume the wicked at His Second Coming (see D&C 5:19). People whose lives are filled with darkness will be destroyed by the light. People whose lives are full of light will be saved by that light—’as by fire,’ to use Nephi’s words (1 Nephi 22:17). Doctrine and Covenants 88:25 states that ‘the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom.’ Well, what does the earth do? The earth revolves around the sun (s-u-n). What should we do if we are to abide by the law of a celestial kingdom? Our lives should also revolve around the Son (s-o-n).
“The universe was designed to testify of Christ. Consider hibernation. Every creature—every squirrel, insect, snake, or bear—that hibernates and lies dormant during the winter appears to be dead. Each one that comes alive again in the spring testifies of Christ and His Resurrection. Every tree, every plant, every leaf that becomes green each spring—all testify of Christ. Do you think it was by chance that all of these things come to life after appearing to be dead at the same time of year when Jesus came alive again? I don’t think so. All things testify of Christ.
“Why do you go to bed at night? Because you are tired? No. You symbolically die every night. Why do you get up in the morning? To go to school? No. You symbolically resurrect every morning.” (Todd B. Parker, BYU professor of Ancient Scripture, given on 20 January 2015.)
Food for thought.
And I’m convinced now that even the principles of success are a “type” (symbol) for Christ. As I said before, the principles are dependable and sure. They bring peace of mind. They increase our capacity for happiness. They turn disaster into good fortune and heartache into healing. They are constant and reliable.
Do they make you think of him as I believe they are intended to? Or you they make you think you don’t need him because you’ve got the power within yourself to make anything happen that you need?
Related: Human Empowerment in Perspective
Where some may see the principles as a replacement for Christ, I think it is wise to see the principles as a “type” or symbol that helps us learn of Christ, understand him, and experience his power in our life.
Some rejected Christ because they didn’t recognize Moses as a “type” (symbol) of things yet to come. Let’s be careful with success principles. They can take us away from Christ, or they can bring us closer to him.
This is why I hold fast to my religion.
I’ve always tried to keep my studies of the success principles inside the context of eternal, spiritual truths. To always remember that Christ is at the center, remembering that no earthly success could ever compensate for what would be lost by forgetting him. I believe that true happiness, the kind that lasts forever, cannot be achieved in any other way.
How I Apply Success Principles to my Faith Practice
I cannot achieve seemingly impossible goals without faith, and I cannot achieve the ultimate goal of eternal life with God without faith. In practicing faith in the little things, I gain experience and understanding that helps me understand how to apply faith in the Ultimate Thing.
When my children are old enough, I explain that we keep Santa alive so young children can practice believing in something they cannot see. It builds the faith muscle. It teaches them to love something they cannot hold, and to trust something about which they have only scant evidence. In practicing faith in Santa, they gain experience, understanding, and neural-pathways that helps them understand how to apply faith in Jesus Christ. I also tell them that as long as they keep believing, Santa will keep coming, so if you ask them if they believe, they will always say yes. And some of them are in college now. 😉 We can choose to believe.
Santa is a “type” (symbol) that points us to Christ.
How it’s done
To achieve seemingly impossible goals, we must first imagine how it will feel to experience the success we seek. If we can see it in our mind, and feel it as though it is accomplished, then something in the world around us shifts, and all things combine to help us achieve it. The resources we need are there when we need them. The inspiration we need for overcoming the obstacles becomes easier to detect. The tenacity we need to see it through becomes a more instinctive part of us.
We must test it, and prove it to ourselves. By doing this, we build the faith muscle until faith is replaced with knowledge.
(Read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with your Money Matters — free— to find out how you can test it this week.)
The same goes with the ultimate goal of eternal life with God. I never thought of it before studying success principles, but I am convinced that achieving that Ultimate Goal must also begin with imagining how it will feel. Testing, practicing, and eventually figuring out how to successfully apply the principles caused me to consider that.
So it should make us wonder: What would it be like?
Imagine meeting your Maker and hearing him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
What would that feel like? Can you imagine it?
If you can, and if you let yourself FEEL it, I’m convinced that you shift something in the world around you, and his holy angels gather to help you achieve it. The resources you need to do his will are there when you need them.
“In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you must remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed…
“‘And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. … I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left … and mine angels (shall be) round about you, to bear you up. … The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.’ (D&C 78:17–18; D&C 84:88; D&C 78:18.)”(For Times of Trouble, Jeffrey R. Holland)
If you allow yourself to imagine and feel that victorious day, the inspiration you need for overcoming the obstacles becomes easier to detect. The tenacity you need to endure faithfully to the end becomes a more instinctive part of you. You begin to love and serve as Christ did. You become the kind of person who would feel comfortable in the presence of God.
Jesus taught us by his example to believe in the impossible. He turned water into wine. He fed the five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes. He healed the sick. And it wasn’t just for show—it wasn’t just to impress us. It was to show us what faith can do.
It was also to show us what man can do:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12)
When Peter tried to walk on the water but was overcome by fear and began to sink, Jesus caught him and asked, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:28)
We practice faith in our daily challenges, so that one day we may have enough faith to believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in spite of how terribly short we fall in our life’s performance. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10)
Talk about believing in the impossible.
So if we struggle to believe that faith can help us pay our $200 bill, where will we find the faith to believe that Jesus can save us in the kingdom of heaven after we messed up so often and so badly throughout our life? A price far greater than a measly $200.
“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom,” (3 Nephi 27:19)
The good news of the gospel is that He provided a way. Truly, if the dream (faith) is big enough, then the facts (even our worst sins) don’t have to count.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
As we practice faith, optimism, hope, and belief, relying on the Lord for our daily bread, and acknowledge God’s hand in all things, we develop that muscle of faith, and our confidence grows in our ability to rely on him also for the saving of our very soul:
“…let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; …The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion…” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)
THIS is what I hope to remember at Christmastime, and always: that with God, nothing is impossible, even my salvation.
Faith is a muscle that is strengthened with practice, but it can also atrophy when neglected. It must continually be exercised. So thank heavens if you have a daily struggle to make ends meet. You get to have lots of practice exercising faith, and it very well may become your salvation. You can’t get to heaven without a strong faith muscle.
So practice the principles of success—faith, hope, optimism, eager anticipation—and alway believing that something wonderful is about to happen!
If you are comfortable, set goals that stretch you. Keep your heart and desires centered in Christ, and always give thanks for that which you receive—the good and the bad.
And never lose sight of the ultimate goal—returning to your Father in Heaven in a joyful, victorious reunion.
It is because of this potential victory, this incomparable triumph, that we celebrate Christ’s birth, because without his birth, life and sacrifice, the possibility wouldn’t even exist.
Let’s remember that the reason for the season is Christ, but also that we celebrate it for the hope and possibility of that glorious moment when we return to our heavenly home with honor. For the hope and possibility of the embrace, the joy, the tears, and the exclamations of praise to God that he showed us the way.
So think on it. Imagine it. Honor Christ by longing for it (after what he went through, it’s the least we can do), and then take whatever next step comes to mind for putting your life on to the straight and narrow path toward it.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
Bonus: by putting him first, you demonstrate obedience to another law connected to yet another blessing:
“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:19)
“…and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means [without forcing it] it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)
So there is much to celebrate. There is much to hope for. And it’s all because Christ was born, lived, ministered, taught, forgave, comforted, healed, loved, atoned, and died for all of us.
Here’s wishing you a very, merry Christmas.
Originally published January 4, 2012