Sunday, July 3, 2011

Where Jesus Walked

by Carma Salvesen
From the November 2010 New Era

If I could go to Galilee
And walk where Jesus walked
And sit in tender grasses
On the hillside where He taught.
If I could sit and ponder
On a rock that knew His hand,
Or walk along the seashore
Where His feet had touched the sand.
My spirit yearns within me,
But it doesn’t seem my fate.
I’ll never walk where Jesus walked.
I’ll never see … but wait.
I worship in His temple
Where I know He’s walked before.
Have His feet been down this hallway?
Have His fingers touched this door?
Has He stood here in this very room
And looked at what I see?
In the beauty of His temple
I can feel His love for me.
I close my eyes and picture Him,
My worries melt away.
I don’t need to go to Galilee
Or travel far away.
For my tender heart is filled
With what He wants me to be taught
And my testimony burns within—
I’ve walked where Jesus walked!
Sharing Time: How have you walked where Jesus walked?

Friday, July 1, 2011

For God So Loved the World

John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This verse reminds us of the Atonement and how grateful we are that Christ died for us so we could return to Him. However, I do not think we understand the true depth of this scripture.

When we are enduring trials not brought about by sin, often the questions "Why me?" or "What did I do to deserve this?" are at the forefront of our minds. Many cease to believe in God on the basis that if He really cared He wouldn't let terrible things happen to innocent people. Such thoughts are the result of not understanding the plan of salvation, especially the Atonement.

Elder Richard G. Scott said in an October 1995 General Conference:
Now may I share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity, the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.
Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? . . .
They [Heavenly Father and Jesus] would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

Even with this knowledge, it still can be difficult to endure trials. That is, until we remember Christ paid the price of all our sins and suffered all our physical and emotional pains (Alma 7:11-13). This means that He experienced every horrific, evil, and hurtful situation possible. God loves us so much that He sent His Son to endure everything we have to endure. It was so agonizing for Christ that He literally bled from every pore and needed strength from an angel (Luke 22:43-44). It was so horrible that even the memory of it is harrowing (D&C 19:16-19; as a BYU professor noted, the em dash shows that He suddenly stops in the middle of His account and changes to a positive thought).

The next time we think "Why me?" we must remember that Christ suffered the same thing exactly as we suffered it; He is not asking us to suffer anything He hasn't suffered too. Heavenly Father wants us to return to Him so much that He let His Son go through excruciating pain for us. His one desire is for us to have eternal life (Moses 1:39). And Christ loves us so much that He "[drank] out of that bitter cup" (3 Nephi 11:11) so we could obtain that eternal life. Also, He did it to be an empathetic comforter while we live and a merciful judge when we die (Alma 7:12).

We must also remember that Heavenly Father gave us the precious gift of agency, meaning the ability to choose our actions. Sometimes trials come as a result of other people's wicked actions. God allows this because He will not take away our agency. But in the end, justice will be served, and the wicked will experience much worse than the innocent suffered by their account (Alma 14:10-11).

A world without agency and trials is in accordance with Satan's plan. Satan's plan was rejected and he was cast out of heaven, along with the third of God's children who agreed with Satan. They will never experience the joys of mortal and eternal life; thus, they tempt us to have doubtful and negative thoughts about Heavenly Father's plan. They do not want us to be happy because they are not happy (2 Nephi 2:27). But we can be happy even amid trials because we understand the plan of salvation and the Atonement.

Elder Scott said, "It is a singularly marvelous blessing to have faith in the Savior and a testimony of His teachings. So few in the world have that brilliant light to guide them. The fulness of the restored gospel gives perspective, purpose, and understanding. It allows us to face what otherwise appear to be unjust, unfair, unreasonable challenges in life. Learn those helpful truths by pondering the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Try to understand those teachings not only with your mind but also with your heart."

I testify that Christ suffered all our sins and pains so we could repent, find strength and comfort in Him, and return to our Heavenly Father clean and righteous to be exalted with Him. I know that if we have faith in the plan of salvation and remember it was designed by an omniscient, omnipotent God, we can endure any trial that comes our way.

Discussion: How does the Atonement show Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love for us?