…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

To Him That Overcometh

A Tribute

By Rex Goode


Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

In my new calling in my stake’s Sunday School Presidency, I have the opportunity to visit Sunday School classes in other wards. Today, I visited a Gospel Doctrine class in a neighboring ward. The teacher was someone I knew many, many years ago.He gave a good lesson. The topic of discussion was the first two chapters of the book of Revelation. It covers the beginning of a vision had by John the Beloved of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the vision, John described Christ and was commanded to write seven letters to seven churches and their leaders.

I have always found these seven letters to be meaningful in my life. They follow a great pattern that I wish I could master in my own life.  The letters have four basic parts, or maybe even five depending on how you read them. Not all of the elements are in all of the letters. I would like to point out the four I see:

  1. He introduces himself in some way, for example, “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true… (Revelation 3:7)”
  2. He praises them for something, for example, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil… (Revelation 2:2)”
  3. He brings up a problem, as in, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:4)”
  4. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)”

I particularly wish that I could train myself to always praise before criticizing. It’s a bad and selfish habit to think first of myself and how I feel before I consider how another might feel.

What caught my ear, eye, and heart today was the phrase, “To him that overcometh.” As many times as I have read these passages, I have never thought of that phrase in the light I thought of it today. I think that all points of the gospel are multi-layered, filled with meanings both shallow and deep, personal and universal, physical and spiritual, and about me and about God.

As the teacher today asked the rhetorical question, “Has anyone ever overcome anything?”, my thoughts immediately went to one thing in my life that was the most threat to my future happiness that I abandoned in one night on my knees in prayer.

That prayer was more of a wrestle than a prayer, much like the story of Jacob wrestling with the messenger and God and receiving the name, Israel, as described in the 32nd chapter of Israel. Jacob was confronted with the possibility that his brother, Esau, could destroy him and his family before he could possess his inheritance in the land of promise.

As with Jacob, what I struggled with could have destroyed my family before it ever got started. As Jacob did, I prayed until I thought I might weary God with it. A stronger prayer I have never said before or since. As I imagined God getting tired of the question and wanting to leave, I declared a sentiment like Jacob’s when he said, “Not until thou bless me.”

Now, four decades later, I look back on that event as the pivotal event of my life, where I changed course for the life I have now, a life I treasure beyond anything I might have otherwise done. While it seemed at the time that I was promising God that I would change my ways, there was one moment where I refused to quit until I felt assured that God would overcome that problem in me.

We Latter-day Saints talk about grace in terms of it being what happens “after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23). We tend to treat “after” as a statement about time rather than something broader and multifaceted. “After” can mean “behind, later, of less consequence, of lesser rank, and in imitation of something, as in after the fashion of. ”

I like to think of grace and salvation as a complex mixture of all of these. What is essentially true for me is that when it is all packaged up, salvation is something of a partnership between God and an individual with God being the greater partner. I can never do things with the perfect position, timing, priority, and respect as God can. I can never completely imitate him.

When it comes to overcoming, I believe that rather than me overcoming things, God overcomes them in me. What is required of me is that willingness that the scriptures speak of, the yielding of my heart to God who then does the work in me.

I can never quite make a promise to be good stick without the power of the Spirit to back me up. In that sense, when I think of the good things in life I have done, the turning away from evil, the improvements in my character and behavior, I cannot with integrity claim them as my own accomplishments. They are the work of the Spirit in my life as I make surrender myself to its promptings.

Today, when I read on the chalkboard, “He that overcometh,” I did not think of myself as he that overcometh. I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ, who overcame all that he might own me and overcome all things in me.

Therefore, I say to Him that overcometh, “Thank you.”


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