During church last week, I was reading a “Jesus book” to one of my daughters. One of the pages shows the Savior holding a child on His lap (pictured above) with the words, “He encircles me in the arms of His love.” I love that visual and the feeling it gives.
After she hung up, I had a pit in my stomach that didn't leave for a number of days. I was so hurt by her accusations, and it was affecting me and my work. I remembered the scripture where Alma prayed that their afflictions would be “swallowed up in the joy of Christ.” As I knelt in prayer that night, I asked that my heartache would be swallowed up and that I would feel the love of the Savior. Almost instantly, I did and never looked back.
I found inspiration in the following quotes from Elder David. B. Haight’s talk “Love All.”
“Love is this divine ingredient. It alone describes what can be our perfect relationship to our Heavenly Father and our family and neighbors, and the means by which we accomplish His work...
“God does not love us because we are lovable, have a pleasing personality or a good sense of humor, or at rare times show exceptional kindness. In spite of who we are and what we have done, God wants to pour out His love on us, for the unlovable are also precious unto Him...
“Love of God is the means of unlocking divine powers which help us to live worthily and to overcome the world.”
We can share the gift of our Savior by loving those around us, not judging them, and encouraging them to draw nearer to the Savior.
"Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
One of my favorite talks about control, deferring our will, and subduing the desires of our heart is “The Inconvenient Messiah” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. To sum it up, Elder Holland uses the story of when Jesus was taken into the wilderness after fasting for 40 days and was tempted multiple times by Satan himself. The Lord is tempted to turn stones into bread and cast himself down from a high pinnacle. Both were things he could have easily done, but they were an abuse of His priesthood power and not the will of the Father.
Elder Holland said in a 1989 BYU Devotional “The Will of the Father in All Things”:
“Frankly, I am a bit haunted by the thought that this is the first and most important thing he may want to know about us when ‘we meet him one day in similar fashion.' Did we obey, even if it was painful? Did we submit, even if the cup was bitter indeed? Did we yield to a vision higher and holier than our own, even when we may have seen no vision in it at all? … Even as we rehearse this greatest of all personal sacrifices, you can be certain that with some in this world it is not fashionable nor flattering to speak of submitting—to anybody or anything. At the threshold of the twenty-first century it sounds wrong on the face of it. It sounds feeble and wimpish. It just isn't the American way.Our Father in Heaven has always given us the ability to make our own choices, even before we came to the earth. It shows real strength and faithfulness when we willfully choose to follow the will of our Father.
This gift of our agency and will and choice is the only thing we can give to the Lord. He has given us everything, and can take it away at any moment, except for our will and ability to choose. By choosing to follow Him and His teachings, we can reach new heights and have a heartfelt joy. This Christmas season, I hope we follow the Savior’s example and choose to do the will of the Father.
"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors."
This earth life is has been given us to prepare for the eternities. How we use our time can determine our destiny.
Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy said in his October 2011 General Conference talk:
“Time is never for sale; time is a commodity that cannot, try as you may, be bought at any store for any price. Yet when time is wisely used, its value is immeasurable. On any given day we are all allocated, without cost, the same number of minutes and hours to use, and we soon learn, as the familiar hymn so carefully teaches, 'Time flies on wings of lightning; we cannot call it back' (“Improve the Shining Moments,” Hymns,no. 226). What time we have we must use wisely. President Brigham Young said, 'We are all indebted to God for the ability to use time to advantage, and he will require of us a strict account of [its] disposition.'”I learned a great lesson about time from a former missionary companion of my father. He was serving as a Stake President in Arkansas in the late 1960’s when President Spencer W. Kimball, then Elder Kimball, gave him the assignment to visit some people in his stake that lived a great distance away. To fulfill this responsibility would take a great deal of time and travel. Elder Kimball returned a few months later to follow up.
During that interview my father’s friend, who hadn’t fulfilled the assignment said, “I just haven’t had enough time.” Elder Kimball, frustrated, said, “God doesn’t use time. It’s made up by man and we need you to do a better job using it to do God’s work. Time is all we have in this life.”
Serving the Lord takes time. I know that many of us are very busy. I help manage the schedule for one of the leaders of the church in my area. His schedule is very busy, but I have yet to hear him complain when it comes to serving others and fulfilling his calling. And I am so very grateful for his example to me.
Our Father’s gift of our Savior has given me more blessings than I feel I deserve. For that I am eternally grateful and indebted. I hope and pray that we will remember Christ's example of love and obedience and look to give more of ourselves this Christmas season as a springboard to giving more of ourselves to the Lord and his work in 2015.