Monday, December 27, 2010

A Great Love

Alma 20

v. 26

I love reading the account of Ammon and his brothers as missionaries.  It always brings up the feelings I had while I was a missionary in France almost 25 years ago.

Verse 26 tells how King Lamoni's father was astonished at the love that Ammon felt for his son, and that his son returned.  And it brings back thoughts of Sr. Le Tendre, Marie-Cecile, Albanne, Julien and Patrice, and many more.  The reason I loved my mission so much was that I loved the people I met so much.  We shared so much joy as I taught them the things that I knew to be true, as I offered them the opportunity to come unto Christ and delight in His gospel.  I loved them.  I loved the work I was doing.  I felt closer to my Heavenly Father than ever before.

I think about the time when this life is over and we all meet again.  Hugs and tears and laughter, and thank you's, I'm sure.  Unnecessary thank you's, because I've been blessed over and over again, not the least by their love and association.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Learning of Jesus Christ

Alma 18

I wonder what it would be like to hear of Jesus Christ for the first time.  I can not remember a time in my life where I did not know Him.  I was taught in my home and at church from the time I was but a toddler.  Ours has always been a Christ-centered home.

What if it had been different?  What if I had led my life not knowing him at all?  Growing up, playing with friends, going to school, fighting with my siblings -- all the normal things and stages we go through in this life -- but minus Christ in my life.

I can't imagine making it through the trials I did without knowing He was there, loving me.  I can't imagine making it through the darkness of teenage years without being able to cry out for help.  I can't imagine getting married without the peaceful reassurance of the Spirit that this was the one for me.  I can't imagine figuring out those early married years on my own.  I can't imagine -- and I cringe at the thought -- trying to raise my children in this world without His help.  And I can't imagine making it through day after day of this chronic illness without His comfort, His love, His succor.

What a remarkable moment it must have been for King Lamoni to discover that he had a Savior who loved him so much He had died for him.  And then to try the experiment, to call upon the Lord for forgiveness of His sins, and to discover with a full knowledge that Ammon's words were true.  Yes, I can see how overwhelming it would be.  I can see how one might lose strength and be carried away for a period of time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Power In Christ

Alma 17

I've read these chapters many times, delighting in the stories of the great missionary, Ammon.  I wondered if there would be anything new for me to find in it this time.  Silly me, of course there is, because I come to the stories with different needs.

As Ammon faces the enemies, who are numerous, who try to scatter the flocks of the king, I am reminded of my own enemies that threaten my serenity and peace of mind, that try to place me at odds with my eternal King. 

By the power of Christ, Ammon was able to defeat every man who tried to harm him.  As they raised up their arms to smite him with their clubs, he smote off their arms with his sword.  He cut them off at the source of their power, rendering them harmless.

I, too, can turn to Christ to give me power to cut off my enemies at the source of their power, at the very beginning when they raise their weapons against me.  I come unto Him humbly, offering a broken heart and a contrite spirit, making myself worthy to receive the promptings of His Spirit.  Then, He will strengthen me, guide me, refresh me against evil.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Jesus Christ

Alma 7

v. 10 And behold, he shall be aborn of Mary, at bJerusalem which is the cland of our forefathers, she being a dvirgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and econceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. 

v.11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and aafflictions and btemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will ctake upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

v. 12 And he will take upon him adeath, that he may bloose 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 csuccor his people according to their infirmities.

I'm lucky it's the Christmas season with so many reminders to remember Him.  I also love how my Heavenly Father gives me just the message I need to hear when I need to hear it most.  A reminder and a testimony that He has taken upon Him my pains and my sicknesses.  That His bowels are filled with mercy towards me.  That He knows how to succor me.
v. 19 For I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness; I perceive that ye are in the path which leads to the kingdom of God; yea, I perceive that ye are making his apaths straight.

After yesterday's scriptures which were harsher in nature, calling me to repentance for allowing the ravenous wolves to enter my heart, here is God's reassurance.  He knows that I'm doing the best that I can, that my desires are righteous, that I am keeping the commandments and making progress.  He reassures me that through my faithfulness, I am indeed "His people," and that I qualify for the succor the Savior stands ready to offer me.

His arms are open.  Ask, and ye shall receive.  Go and find comfort there in His embrace.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Conquering Despair

Alma 5

I live with a chronic illness that keeps me pretty much housebound.  It is a constant, daily struggle to remain positive and upbeat.  Despair is waiting, every day, just outside the door.  And sometimes it seeps in and overcomes me.

Such was my day yesterday.  It settled in, and I wallowed in the darkness all day long.  I prayed.  I listened to conference talks.  I tried my mindless pursuits of watching TV and silly computer games.  I prayed some more.

It didn't lift.  I doubted my faith.  How could I keep falling back into despair?  Why was I unable to maintain meek submissiveness like a child?  Why was I not long-suffering and patient.  Why was I unable to carry this burden, shoulder this disease with grace and dignity?

I had no answers, and sleep was a welcome relief by the time night fell.  But I woke up today, and the feelings remained.

As my husband was giving me the sacrament at home yesterday, the words that stood out to me were "always remember him."  I realized that I had not remembered Him at all.  I didn't remember that my Savior had descended below all things, and more importantly, that He had already borne these particular burdens of mine.  Although I had prayed, I did not specifically come unto Christ and ask him to help me with this.

So, today I decided to try to do better.  I started my day with my scripture reading, which is focused on coming to Christ.

v. 6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in aremembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has bdelivered their souls from hell?

Ah, there's that word again, remembrance.

v. 13 And behold, he apreached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their btrust in the true and cliving God. And behold, they were faithful until the dend; therefore they were saved.

I'm a list kind of girl.  I like to know, step by step, what I'm supposed to do.  I so want a change in my heart, to lift the despair and let peace and joy reside there once again.  How am I to do it?  By 1. humbling myself, 2. trusting in God, and 3. being faithful.

Trusting in God is an important step.  Of course I'm humble, this illness compels me to be humble.  Trusting in God means that He knows the reasons behind this illness, He knows why I have not yet been healed, He knows exactly what I need to become more like Him and to become fit for the kingdom.  He knows the day and the hour of my deliverance.  I need to trust in Him and wait.

v. 16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye ablessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Well, right now, um, no.  How can my works be works of righteousness when my heart is darkened by despair?  There is no room for the voice of the Spirit to guide me.  There is only wallowing and wandering and a desperate attempt to merely survive the onslaught.

v. 40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is agood cometh from God, and whatsoever is bevil cometh from the devil.

I know the source of my despair.  It is not from my Heavenly Father, who wants me to find joy in every season.  Satan must laugh during days like these, because he has me bound.  I am no good, to myself or to others.

v. 59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his aflock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

v. 60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.

The Lord is my shepherd.  If I come unto Him, He will drive the ravenous wolves out of my heart.  He will not suffer that I be destroyed.
Today I will remember Him.  I will cry unto Him often, asking Him to let me take His yoke upon me, that my burdens will not feel so heavy upon my shoulders.  I will pray.  I will talk to Him.  I will share my pain, my frustration, my sorrow.  I will ask Him to help me drive the wolves away.  I will find some good to do.  I will let Him wrought a mighty change in my heart.