Sunday, October 23, 2011

Encircled About in the Arms of Love (my talk)

Long ago in a beautiful garden filled with peace and love, a man and a woman were created; a paradisiacal creation. They were immortal and were able to live forever. They could talk to their Father face to face any time they wanted. However, they were not able to age or gain wisdom, have children, or understand true happiness because they were unable to understand sadness. They were not able to fulfill the commandments given to them. Their creation needed a change.

That change came when the man choose to partake of the forbidden fruit. This man and woman were now a mortal creation. They were not able to see their Father when they talked to him. However, they were able have children, laugh, cry, run and get out of breath. They were able to fall and break a bone and then heal. They were able to die. They knew they had to keep the commandments given to them here on earth so they would be able to see their Father again.

Now, this man and woman did keep their commandments and when they died here on earth, they entered their immortal creation. Their bodies became perfect. They were reconciled with their Father.

When I think of the word reconciliation, I think of accounting and balancing my checkbook. But if you know any Latin, or remember your grammar, you will remember that ‘Re’ means ‘again’, ‘Con’ means ‘with’, and ‘Sella’ means ‘seat’. So, the word means ‘to sit with again’. So, to say that they reconciled with their Father, it is saying that they were able to sit with their Father again. After all that time on earth in their mortal existence, all that time when they suffered and had sorrow and were unable to see Him while communicating with Him, I can only imagine the joy they felt when they were able to sit with their Father and see him face to face.

Now the main character of this story has not been mentioned. Why hasn’t he been mentioned? Because He is so good and so loving; Because he is always there even when you don’t know he is there; and because He wanted to be the One to make this man and woman’s happiness possible without recieving any credit. From the beginning, He was willing to give us His life, so we could have ours. His name is Jesus Christ.

The word Atonement is often defined as at-one-ment, meaning, to be at one with God. In Hebrew, the word for atonement is kaphar which means ‘to cover’ or ‘to forgive’. In Arabic the word kafat means ‘a close embrace’. I like that one. Lehi taught his children ‘…I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.’ When someone is having a bad day, isn’t an embrace, isn’t being encircled about in the arms of love what makes everything better? Because of the Atonement of our eldest Brother Jesus Christ, we are ‘encircled about eternally in the arms of His love.’

Elder Russell M. Nelson says, “To be redeemed is to be atoned-received in the close embrace of God with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind.” ‘Oneness of heart and mind.’

Most often, when we hear the word Atonement, we think of the sacrifice the Savior made for our sins. President James E. Faust reminds us that, “The Atonement not only benefits the sinner but also benefits those sinned against- that is the victim.” When we pray each day and while we take the sacrament, after we have repented, do we thank our Savior for atoning for our sufferings; for enabling us to be encircled about eternally in his arms in our times of needs? President Faust continues, “The Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort to those who have been innocently victimized by the sins of others. The basic source for the healing of the soul is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” I think that statement has strong words with a strong meaning. I have met many people who have had tragic events occur in their lives. Those who have a testimony of the Atonement and understand that the Atonement applies to their sufferings have that comfort and peace.

In the April 2010 Ensign, Elder Jean A Tefan, former member of the Seventy, shared an experience he had when his wife became ill.

It was at the height of my wife’s suffering that I came to better understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by what Gis√®le was experiencing. What had she done to deserve such an affliction? Hadn’t she served the Lord faithfully? Hadn’t she lived the Word of Wisdom? Why couldn’t He have prevented this illness? Why?

One particular night I let my heart and my feelings burst in prayer as I recounted to the Lord all of my frustrations. “I can no longer stand to watch my dear wife endure such pain!” I told Him. Then I decided to turn to the scriptures. I found these comforting verses about Jesus Christ in Alma 7:11–12:

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

The Lord knows how to help us when we are suffering. He knows because he has felt those pains.

In April of this year, there was a reprint of an article by ELDER BRUCE R. MCCONKIE (1915–85) Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Ensign. It said, “Two thousand years ago, outside Jerusalem’s walls, there was a pleasant garden spot, Gethsemane by name, where Jesus and His intimate friends were wont to retire for pondering and prayer. There Jesus taught His disciples the doctrines of the kingdom, and all of them communed with Him who is the Father of us all, in whose ministry they were engaged and on whose errand they served.

This sacred spot, like Eden where Adam dwelt, like Sinai from whence Jehovah gave His laws, like Calvary where the Son of God gave His life a ransom for many, this holy ground is where the sinless Son of the Everlasting Father took upon Himself the sins of all men on condition of repentance.

We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.

We know He sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as He drained the dregs of that bitter cup His Father had given Him.

We know He suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.

We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, His suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in His holy name.

We know that He lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused Him to tremble and would that He might not drink the bitter cup.

We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen Him in His ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be.

As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours.”

Now, I cannot comprehend His ability to do this, but I know He did.

As a child, I never went to any church. But seeds were planted because sometime in my teen years, I fell in love with the poem Footprints. I didn’t know then the significance of the meaning found within that poem.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."

He does carry us. He is with us every single step of the way.

During the General Relief Society Meeting this past Conference, President Uchtdorf said, “Whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you “(Sept. 2011).

“Allow His divine love into your life, It can dews any wound, heal any hurt, and soften any sorrow” (Sept. 2011).

“We long for the ultimate blessing of the Atonement—to become one with Him, to be in His divine presence, to be called individually by name as He warmly welcomes us home with a radiant smile, beckoning us with open arms to be enfolded in His boundless love.” (Faust, Alma 26:15; Morm. 5:11; Morm. 6:17; Moses 7:63)

Those reading, know that I have a testimony of my Savior and all that he has done for me and continues to do for me. I know that He volunteered before the earth was created to suffer the pains that I have so I can have peace and be comforted. His arms are open and waiting to embrace me at all times. When I am finished here with my earthly experiences, I can and will be greeted by a Loving Father and Loving Brother in Heaven. I am and will be encircled about in their arms eternally. I say this in the name of my Savior and Redeemer, my Eldest Brother, Jesus Christ. Amen

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mix Matched

Before you read this, please know that today I was working in a garden, pulling weeds in holey jeans, a baggie t-shirt, with hair in a not so great braid, and on the way home, I stopped to shop at Costco. With NO lipstick on (don't tell my mother).

Today at Costco I saw so many women nicely dressed. Their hair was done, make-up looked fresh, clothes all pristine! And next to them were these grungy, unkempt men. It was amazing to me the number of couples I saw. She was on her way to the runway and he was on his way to homelessness. I laughed. Later I was writing this post in my head and it occurred to me that I have had this observation before. Actually, I have had this observation before, but backwards. On Sunday, the men wear suits, with coats, and ties, and are all clean shaven. The women wear knit t-shirt type shirts with jean skirts and flip-flop sandals. Does anyone else find this match-up strange?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Atonement

I have been asked to give a talk on the Atonement in church this Sunday. Now, if I were a missionary giving a 5 minute definition, that would be ssssoooo easy (or so i think). Instead, I get to talk for 15 minutes, I think, about how to apply the atonement to our lives. SSSSSOOOOOOO not easy =) I am think that I will take the approach of how the atonement is also meant for those who have been hurt by the sinner, not just the sinner. There, that one sentence summed it up =) Now I need a bunch more!

Might Be Worth Something

Occasionally I have experiences that trigger thoughts. Sometimes I just have thoughts =) Either way, I am going to try and take some time to share these thoughts. One in mind has really made me ponder on a personality trait that could use some tweeking.