Friday, April 29, 2011

Rest Unto Your Souls

"Take my ayoke upon you, and blearn of me; for I am cmeek and dlowly in eheart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

Consider these words spoken by Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible--words that invite us to come unto him and find true peace of mind. His merciful invitation invites us to learn of him and follow His perfect example with the promise that we shall have repose. In an unforeseen lesson this evening, we visited a family recently ripped apart financially and spiritually by the claws of injustice. Their once comfortable life is now filled with unsurety, their bleak future slighted by the greediness of others. Yes, their situation is personal, and thus avoiding details I simply say that a sense of desperation has visibly enveloped them. Can we not all relate to their situation? Have we not all felt cheated, cast away, or forgotten at some point in our lives? Have we not all felt that initial rage or discomfort within us when the cruel hand of unfairness grasps us? Do we not at times feel extreme loneliness or abandonment? I have and do from time to time. Consider the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith at Liberty Jail when under similar circumstances:

"O God, awhere art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy bhiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? Yea, O Lord, ahow long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful boppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with ccompassion toward them? O Lord God aAlmighty, maker of bheaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy cpavilion be taken up; let thy dhiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine eheart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us. Let thine aanger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy bsword cavenge us of our wrongs. Remember thy asuffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever."

I could not relate to that family's ordeal but I could relate to the sense of hopelessness that my own personal trials and tribulations have brought me. The only thing my missionary companion and I could testify of was the Savior's gracious plea to come unto him and find rest, which I know to be true. I pray that we might give our whole souls as an offering to the God of Israel. Let us accept his help. If the Lord is with us, who against us? I know of myself the merciful power of His great atonement. It has brought me rest when my soul had none. It has quenched my hunger and my thirst. Of this I testify as one called to represent Him.

I end this blog with the Lord's response to Joseph Smith: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine badversity and thine afflictions shall be but a csmall moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy bfoes. Thy afriends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy afriends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job. And they who do charge thee with transgression, their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall amelt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun; ...How long can rolling waters remain impure? What apower shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Have Sinned Against Heaven

"And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more aworthy to be called thy bson."

I desire to share my testimony of the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ's atonement. It is not a gift uniquely available to me but to every living soul under the Sun, moon, and stars. The Bible tells us of the well-known tale of the "Prodigal Son." In a brief recap of the story, we learn of a man whose son withdrew his inheritance money and left his father's home--surely with big dreams and a sense of excitement. Unfortunately, as the scriptures say, he "took his journey into a far country, and there awasted his bsubstance with criotous living. "His money and his friends disappeared sooner than he thought possible—they always do—and a day of terrible reckoning came thereafter—it always does" (Jeffrey R. Holland). The story continues and tells of his poor and desperate state--how "he awould fain have filled his belly with the bhusks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." It is here that I wish to pause, but not linger too long. I pause at a moment that I dare say we have all encountered at one point or another in our lives. It is the moment where we realize that "wickedness never was happiness." A moment when we are engulfed head-deep by sin, dishonesty, and pride. There is a sudden emptiness, a lack of direction, and a rediscovered conscious filled with shameful remorse. Such an experience made the future prophet Alma cry out "Oh, thought I, that I acould be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my bdeeds. And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the apains of a bdamned soul."

In this terrible ordeal, we may wonder where relief will come from. Alma, continuing, gives us the all-important answer: "And it came to pass that as I was thus aracked with torment, while I was bharrowed up by the cmemory of my many sins, behold, I dremembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world." The answer is the atonement of Jesus Christ. We have all felt some version of these pains and I do testify that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can find true and lasting relief. Our minds need not be harrowed up by our memories. The Lord invited us to come and be pure through him when he said, "Come now, and let us areason together, saith the Lord: though your bsins be as scarlet, they shall be as cwhite as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Repentance and baptism by water and by fire are the means through which we can be cleansed, if we have faith in Christ.

We must have the courage to get up and realize that we are "better than our circumstances," just as the prodigal son "arose, and came to his father." A most heart-warming and inspiring scene then ensues and with that I close this blog post: "But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had acompassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more aworthy to be called thy bson. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."