"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mary Did You Know? Christmas, 2012

In the first chapter of Luke, we read
26-And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent 
from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27-To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, 
of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28-And the angel came in unto her, and said, 
Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: 
blessed art thou among women.
29-And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, 
and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

Today Lord, I commit to more fully trust in thy will for my life.  I choose today to live in faith and to move forward in thy strength and vision.  I want to be an instrument in thy hands. 

30- And the angel said unto her, 
Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 

How does one find favour with God?  Each soul is precious in the sight of God... precious enough that Christ suffered unfathomable grief and pain for each individual who has ever or who will ever come to this earth.  To be favoured is more than to be precious in His sight.  We learn in the scriptures that those who set their hearts upon the things of God are chosen of Him.  In Proverbs, we learn that those who have truth and mercy written on the tablets of their hearts are blessed and favoured of God.  I always tell my kids, 
"If you want to be chosen of God... CHOOSE (action verb) God!"

31- And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32- He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.
33- And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Clearly, up to this point in her life, Mary had no idea that she would become the mother of the Son of God.  She was troubled by what the angel revealed unto her.  In other words... she couldn't wrap her mind around God's vision for her life. 
How did Mary resolve her concern? 

34- Then Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
She asked for further light and understanding with the intent to have her vision expanded... not to talk God out of His plan for her life.
35- And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God

37- For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38- And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word...
39- And Mary arose...
Because of her humility, her willingness to be used by the Father, and her desire to have His will made manifest in her life, she was able to receive the further light and understanding He wished to bless her with.  We don't know if this completely resolved her "troubled" feelings or not, but we do know that at this point, she chose to move forward in faith.  Faith that her life was in God's hands, and faith that His infinite vision for her life was better than what she had previously imagined and planned for herself.
Each of us face times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed, confused, or downright fearful of what the Father is asking us to do.

As the time for the Savior to atone for our sins drew near, He felt the weight of what it was He was about to experience. He prayed,

Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: 
nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.
Luke 22:42

He felt the fear, yet chose to move forward in faith.  Because of His perfect love for and trust in His Father, and also His perfect love for each of us, he completed the incomprehensible mission He had been sent to accomplish.  I praise Him and honor Him for His courage, strength and sacrifice!

Father, I invite thy will into my life.  I glory in thy will and trust that thou knows how to best grow and develop me into the person worthy of thy promised glories yet unseen!  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where Can I Turn For Peace?

Last night for me, was a restless one filled with anxiety ridden dreams.  Yesterday's horrific news of the grade school massacre in Connecticut is brutally consuming.  The inner most pieces of my soul ache for the countless people whose lives are left forever changed.  I grieve for the parents and family members of those who lost their lives.  I mourn for those who were present and experienced the carnage  first hand, yet survived.  My heart swells for the first responders, who out of duty, came to rescue and assist  yet found themselves overcome by the nightmare scene.  I grieve for their community.  My soul weeps for my country and society which has so lost it's way and reels from yet another act of unthinkable violence.  My very being aches today.  I plead with the Father that He will pour out His peace and comfort upon all affected, yet I know that the healing may not ever completely come in this life time.

Yesterday was a happy and productive one for me.  I zipped from one store to another buying gifts for loved ones while enjoying my 4 year old's delight at the rare and treasured falling rain.  She carried her pink and yellow umbrella, wore her lady bug, rubber boots, and hopped and splashed through the parking lots.  It was an experience that filled me with gratitude for my beautiful life.  As we were racing  to pick up my son from school, the car was filled with the hope and love of beautiful Christmas carols.  I felt such warmth and peace.

In a moment of reverent communion with God, my grandmother came into my mind.  I felt compelled to pray for her healing and restoration to a place of peace.  I was overcome with emotion as I thought on her memory and unexpected tears filled my eyes.  I thought on my mother's childhood memory of being sent out into the frigid night by her father to find and retrieve her mom.  As she stepped outside, she saw the drops of blood in the snow and followed them to her neighbor's apartment.  There she found her badly beaten mother.  In this little child's future laid the brutal murder of her mother and subsequent suicide of her father.

I have lived with the fallout of my grandfather's violence my whole life.  These acts are not something that one just wakes up one day and is healed from.  I watched and experienced my mother's grief as she raised us.  She was married just 11 years following the devastating loss of her mother.  53 years have now passed since that horrible day and yet it's effects still ripple through my family.

Returning to yesterday... it was about an hour after I had this experience in the car that my younger sister called me, completely devastated by the day's events.  I was oblivious.  "What's wrong?", I asked.  She began telling me about what had happened in Connecticut.  We then talked at length about the feelings and emotions this sad news had invoked in her.

I still haven't turned on the news or seen a single image associated with the violent rampage, yet the many who find themselves in their worst nightmare today press upon my soul.  My restless night gave way to peace as I awoke with this beautiful scripture coursing through my mind.

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."
Ether 12:4

In processing tragedy, an eternal perspective is absolutely key. Belief in God combined with belief in His perfect plan, results in hope with surety for a better world and a place at His right hand.  The "better world" in this promise isn't meant for the here and now... but the hope is.   This is the future that those who are faithful can count on!  Paul says it this way.

The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:16-18

From this we learn that by suffering with Christ, as opposed to suffering without Him, we become joint-heirs with Him and receive His unimaginable glory.

My mom has been an incredible example to me of what it looks like to suffer with Christ.  Over the years, I have witnessed first-hand the depth of grief a victim of such violence must wade and work through.  As I have watched her struggle, I have also witnessed the constancy of her turning to the Savior to seek His grace, or enabling power.  She truly has taken His yoke upon her and sought His strength and assistance in pulling her heavy burden.  Bit by bit, and grace by grace, He has healed her overwhelming grief.  53 years later there are still the pieces of her soul which are wounded and broken.  I testify, however, that through her walk with the Savior, she has developed Christ-like qualities that could not have been developed any other way.  I KNOW that this pain and tragedy were part of God's perfect plan for her.  They have served as the catalyst to draw both she and her family back to Him.  I know that complete healing and glory await her because of her faithfulness!  Christ asks, "Hath the whole need of a physician?"  The answer comes, a resounding "No"!  

It is my testimony that as we each turn to the Savior and seek His will, strength, and direction in our lives... we WILL find Him.  His peace and hope for a better world will fill us. This is His plan.... this is His desire... that we walk with Him.  As we strive to do so, we will find that His love and good works will naturally flow from us.  He will guide us to strengthen and lift those around us.  He will use us as His instruments to comfort and bring peace.

Please pray for His companionship and guidance and then ACT where you feel inspired to do so.  There are so many who need the gift that you have been called to offer.

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