CAPAX DEI (Come Join With Us Part VI)

[This is part VI of the Come Join With Us Series that starts here]

There is a phrase used by early Christian mystics: “CAPAX
DEI”—it means creating capacity for God. 
The premise for this is that all our religiosity and spiritual striving—in
the Mormon world, that long list of ACTIONS—is simply the act of creating a
space for God—to enter in, change us, and make us whole and one with Him. 

These early Christians used the analogy of the sailboat, that
in our religious practice we set our sails, essentially tuning them to the wind
of the Divine.  But it is God that fills
them and moves us.  Without Him, all the
sail-setting will come to naught and we won’t move an inch. 

We are all called upon to open up ourselves for God and allow
Him to work in us.  As Ezra Taft Benson
said, he makes more of us than we can make of ourselves.  We must cooperate with Him, we must clear out
our baggage and get out of the way.  Prepare
ye the way of the Lord into your heart.

We are wise to search ourselves to discover what other things
are filling the places that God is ready fill.

Consider the lamp of the ten virgins—these are Church
members—what are the lamps? Testimonies, knowledge, actions, but they represent
outward performances.  Yet half of them
neglect to notice there is no oil in them?

LAMP +      ?      = LIGHT

Do we spend our time polishing our empty lamp, our
religiousness—a tidy, clean vessel for the world to see?  Could it be that we imagine that somehow having
the vessel of ACTION is sufficient, and we need no light now, here, in this
dark world, we will simply be judged at the end on how nicely we cared for our
lamp? What comfort is treasuring an empty lamp? Why not allow God to fill us
and have light now?

It’s human tendency to mistake the symbol for the thing
itself.  It’s like eating a picture of a
pineapple in lieu of the fruit itself, or holding a map instead of going to the
actual place. 

But the best analogy for this Capax Dei vessel is simply our
heart—the scriptures say so much about this. 
The beautiful empty lamp is our lips that draw near while the heart
wanders far from Him.

So again, what is in my
vessel that takes room that could be filled with God—filled with his

I’ll tell you—Pain.  I
hold on to my pain like a prized ribbon (or a germy teddy bear)—same with my sorrow, anger, self-pity,
disappointment, regret.  I can let go of
them and let God fill those aching places, but I can’t will my clenched fists
to let my noble story of suffering go.

A long time ago I asked God to make me His.  Repeatedly this prayer has been answered by a
broken heart.  I have always wondered why
my loving Savior asks this of us.  I’m
starting to see that this is simply part of the work of Capax Dei: as I have
requested, He is simply breaking up my will to make space for His. 

A beautiful thing here is that His will for any of us can be
carried out perfectly in any circumstance imaginable, in any place in the world,
and at any time, with any person—it simply requires us to allow ourselves to be
filled by him.  To look for His
light.  (Remember–the eye is the light
of the body, look and live.)

So, what does all of this have to do with going to Church?  

I went back and analyzed the list of Uchtdorf’s promised
blessings for those who “Join With Us.” 
I sorted them into like categories and saw they fell neatly into four


I then saw that these four areas fell neatly into a sort of
yin and yang of God/Man, Spirit/Body, Oil/Lamp.  In the blessings he lists, there is a clear
division between things we can ACT on and do for ourselves (works/external
actions) and things God must do for us (sanctification/saving/grace), back to
my aunt’s original comment of finding out what was God’s job and what was my
job.  Of course we will feel empty if we
have one without the other, yet a large portion we cannot earn or force or
create for ourselves.  If we want to be
independent on this, we will never be finished.

Our ACTIONS, our works, are where we simply create a space
for Him to come in.  Capax Dei.  We then simply look, ask, trust and believe that
he will do the rest—we allow him to do His work in us. 

Just as we personally can mistakenly look to an empty lamp
for light, perhaps I have been looking for the outward commitments of my Church
observance to deliver the healing, and was sorrowing that I wasn’t finding them. 

The Church
can symbolize the healing, ritualize the healing in ordinance, teach us about
the healing, persuade us toward the healing—but only Christ can do the

As Uchtdorf said, this is a church with a Divine mission carried
out by a group of flawed mortal humans.  It’s
very apt that people suggest you “stay in the boat” when testimonies waver—as
the Church is just that—a vessel being created to complete a destiny.

The Church is Capax
Dei—it is setting the sails for Christ to fill and carry us to the finish of
His work here—to prepare the earth and build Zion for Christ to enter.     

But the capacity of the Church to be filled with God begins
with the hearts of the members.

“It is deeply damaging to the church and its members to suppose that we
can transform the world if we are unwilling to be transformed personally.” 
 (Marjorie Thompson)

Capax Dei—making a place for God to enter—it’s our hearts,
our homes, our meetings, any place or group we inhabit, but especially our
Church as a whole.   Capax without Dei is
emptiness.  Everything is an opportunity
to open our eyes and hearts to the direction of Divine wind, to see the gifts,
to trust that He will fill us. 

“What could happen if an entire congregation or community became a
faithful doorway into God’s living presence?” 
 (Marjorie Thompson)

Think on that.  We have
an exciting road before us as a Church. I hope to get out of my pity party and
join with you for it.

So the variable in this divine algebra—solve for X: the wind
in the sails, the oil in the lamp, the only thing our hearts are really designed
to hold, the essential extra ingredient required to fill the emptiness and
attain the promised blessings: THE LOVE OF GOD.
 1 NEPHI 11
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the aLamb of
God, yea, even the bSon of the Eternal cFather! Knowest thou the meaning
of the dtree which thy father saw?
 22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the alove of
God, which bsheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore,
it is the cmost desirable above all things.
 23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most ajoyous to the soul.

There’s that joy again.

Those first two great commandments
that everything hangs upon and boils down to—receiving and reflecting the Love
of God—that is what will save us, our Church and this world.  It is what has saved me and is saving me.

Because I have felt that love I see now how Jesus Christ is mighty to save—He has felt everything I ever have
felt or will feel.  He understands me, and understands you, with a perfect and patient empathy.  He is your personal and intimate advocate, He
is never your accuser.  He has already
paid all of your debts from your birth to your death.  I have felt His saving power and witness that
he can transfigure pain and suffering and sin and brokenness and darkness, even
all of it in this whole crazy world, into light.

And even better, He can do it now.  Not just in the end,
but every day.  We do not
have to wait until this life is over or put in a certain number of actions or
hours to feel the cleansing and transcendent power of the Love of God.  It is right here, right now, and ready to be felt at any moment if we simply
look for the light.  

A Savior doesn’t
watch you drown here only to save you in heaven after death.  Our beloved, dear Savior can and will save us—you—HERE.  


Simply look to Him—and live.   

Not sure how?  Here’s the practice I started with that helped me to start to see God’s hand in my life. 

Post by Valerie Wise Christensen.


One thought on “CAPAX DEI (Come Join With Us Part VI)

  1. Valerie, you are an amazing woman and I still think you are the best RS teacher I have ever had. This is a beautiful journey that you have shared and come to a conclusion that I have reached in a different way and would not be so eloquently able to express. Thank you for being willing to share.

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